A country is said to have optimum population when the size of population enables maximum per capita output & highest possible living standards under the given economic and technological conditions.
Historically concerns about population were more regarding population size and population growth. Some of these ideas of problems were related to resource scarcity. These ideas had root in Malthusian theory where we can have food/hunger crisis. Both Malthusian and DTM theory focused on size and number. But today optimum population is better understood when evaluated against all type of resources and not just land resources. Optimum conditions can only be maintained if exploitation of new resources keeps pace with increasing population.
Currently with about 7 billion population, there are concerns about planet’s carrying capacity. However what exactly is the carrying capacity of the planet and what size of population is the right size to effect the best possible development is much of a debate.
The concept of over/under/optimum population is related to resources. i.e. in the concept of optimum population or otherwise there is no absolute number which can be aimed for because over population or under population depends not only on resources but also on society’s ability to use the resources.
Therefore optimum population is a dynamic concept, it can change with identification of new resources, it can change with technology and the ability of society to use the resources.
If the population becomes too large the law of diminishing returns begins to operate i.e. after reaching optimum population, further increase may increase production but at a decreasing rate so that output per capita declines.
Optimum population is a planning concept, the figure that society aspires to achieve depends on the way the society chooses to define development itself.
As a consequence the optimum population for the world is not easily agreed upon. While the earliest estimates suggested that the world can support 4-5 billion population with all round achievements. The world is capable of holding 9-10 billion population, may be not at the level of development which is possible for smaller population.
Optimum population is a figure that policy makers seek to achieve in converting ‘J’ curve into ‘S’ curve.
Zeliensky, Carr and Saunders were among the first demographers who suggested possibility of optimum population. Zeliensky added an innovation where he considered population itself as a resource.
Optimum population is also a concern for India while many consider India to be over populated at its present level of development. The concept of demographic dividends has changed our perception in terms of population number adequacy. The same population, if skilled and trained, has vast potential to contribute and farther India’s development looking at global labour shortages particularly across the developed countries.
Some appreciation please!