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Pakistan’s Burgeoning Population

Pakistan's Burgeoning Population

A Ticking Time Bomb?

On October 17, 2018, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released its report on world population trends. Titled “The Power of Choice: Reproductive Rights and the Demographic Transition,” the report suggests that the world population is growing at an exponential rate and it is highly likely that this growth will outstrip its development gains. The report has also revealed that Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world, with 208 million people and an annual population growth rate of 2.4 percent. It is flabbergasting that the country’s population is projected to increase to 285 million by 2030 and, at the present rate, will be doubled in the next 30 years, when compared with the normal time of 60 years for other South Asian countries.

Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world with 208 million people and a population growth rate of 2.4 percent per year. The growing population is likely to outstrip developmental gains and continue to adversely affect the economy, environment, health, education and quality of life of all citizens.

This is the crux of the report titled “The State of World Population 2018,” published by the UNFPA. The report warns that Pakistan’s population annual growth rate of 2.4 percent could overtake any developmental gains the country is able to make.

For Pakistan, population growth at the rate of 2.4 percent has eroded fruits of higher economic growth. In a ‘capital poor’ and technologically backward country, rapid growth of population reduces output by lowering the per capita availability of capital and diminishes the availability of capital per head which reduces the productivity of labour force. As a result, income is reduced and capacity to savings is diminished which, in turn, adversely affects capital formation. Due to higher population growth rate, investment requirements are beyond the investing capacity in the country. Rapid growth in population increases the requirements of demographic investment which at the same time reduces the capacity of the people to save. This creates a serious imbalance between investment requirements and the availability of investible funds, hence the entire investment is absorbed by demographic investment and nothing is left for economic development.


In 1950, Pakistan was a nation of 33 million people and it was 14th in the world. Today, the population has touched the 208 million mark and continues to grow at an exponential rate of 2.4 percent. We are now the 5th most populous country after China, India, USA and Indonesia.

As to why Pakistan has come to such a sorry pass there are multiple causes, the most telling being poverty, poor contraceptive use, high unmet need of family planning, high fertility and declining mortality, gender-based discrimination, son preference, early marriages and sociocultural and religious taboos.


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