Causes of Overpopulation

Overpopulation is one of the most serious threats to mankind. It's high time we identify what's causing it and take concrete steps to stop the overgrowth of population.
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Causes of overpopulation
By definition, overpopulation is a condition where the number of organisms exceeds the carrying capacity of their habitat. The world population has crossed 7 billion and we are having to deal with the adverse effects of this excessive growth. Overpopulation leads to scarcity of resources and economic inflation. The day is not far when we won't be left with sufficient resources to meet life's basic needs. Overpopulation is a serious issue, more serious than it seems to be. To nip it in the bud, we need to understand its root causes. The main factors contributing to excessive growth of population are:
  • Increased birth rate
  • Increased longevity
  • Reduced infant mortality
  • Decreased death rate
  • Lack of education
  • Cultural influences
  • Immigration/Emigration
Another reason behind growth in human population is that there is no particular breeding season in human beings. They can mate and have children any time of the year, unlike other animals whose mating season is restricted to only a particular period of the year. Also, developments in the medical field have increased the average lifespan of human beings, thereby boosting population growth. Let's take a closer look at the different causes of overpopulation.

Decline in the Death Rate: Reduced mortality rate is one of the leading causes of overpopulation. Due to medical advancements, many of the once incurable diseases have cures today. Owing to advances in both preventive and curative medicine, diseases have either been eradicated or have more effective treatments now. There are effective ways to control epidemics and there are better measures to treat critical health ailments, thus leading to a drop in death rates. Developments in medicine have led to reduced mortality and increase in the average life expectancy of humans. Infant mortality rates are very low and cases of deaths during childbirth are less frequent. Good prenatal care has improved the chances of survival for both the mother and the baby.

Rise in the Birth Rate: Once again owing to advances in medicine, the average birth rate has gone up. Due to various fertility treatments available today, there are effective solutions to infertility problems, which increases chances of conception. Due to modern medicine, pregnancies are safer. In case of conception after a fertility treatment, there are chances of a multiple pregnancy, further contributing to increasing birth rates. In addition to this, there is a social pressure to have children. This further contributes to overpopulation. Early marriages also contribute to population growth as getting married at an early age increases the chances of having more children. And especially so with the uneducated class where family planning is not adopted.

Lack of Education: Illiteracy is another important factor that contributes to overpopulation. Those lacking education fail to understand the need to curb population growth. Modern methods of birth control and family planning don't reach the illiterate sections of society. Furthermore, due to lack of awareness there is resistance in adopting such methods. The illiterate are unable to understand what impact overpopulation can have. The educated class can make more responsible decisions about marriage and childbirth. Thus education is an effective tool to curb overpopulation.

Cultural Influences: The concept of birth control is not widely accepted. Adopting birth control measures is considered taboo in certain cultures. Some cultures foster beliefs where marrying at a certain age or having a certain number of children is considered to be ideal. In some cultures male children are preferred. This indirectly forces couples to produce children till a child of the preferred gender is conceived. Plus, there is a pressure from the family and society to have children. Social norms influence decisions of starting and extending one's family. In cultures where a woman's role is considered to be that of a child-bearer, large families become the norm.

Migration: Immigration is a problem in some parts of the world. If the inhabitants of various countries migrate to a particular part of the world and settle in that region, the area has to face the negative effects of overpopulation. If the rates of emigration from and immigration to a country do not match, it results in increased population density in that country. The area becomes thickly populated. People inhabiting the area experience scarcity of resources. This leads to uneven distribution of natural resources which is a direct consequence of overpopulation. Though migration of people between regions does not affect the world population figure, it does lead to something that can qualify as localized overpopulation.

Increase in population is an increase in the number of human resources which means more working hands. But we cannot ignore the fact that an increase in the number of producers implies an increase in the number of consumers too. We need to strike a balance between population growth and resource consumption. Resources are limited, population growth needs to be controlled. We need to take steps, now.
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Last Updated: July 11, 2012
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