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Population & Employment

The apprehension that high population growth is responsible for unemployment is baseless. The West did not experience long term mass unemployment during its period of rapid population growth. The world’s economic recession and mass unemployment was recorded in the 1930s, which is also the period of birth dearth. Pakistan was facing scarcity of labour in key sectors of economy during the ‘60s, which is the decade of highest population growth (3.6 percent) in its history. During the ‘70s, when population growth rate dropped to 3 percent, we had fewer jobs for our labour force and had to beg the booming Middle East economies for its absorption.

Looking for the real factors of unemployment anywhere and any time of the history, one always comes across the underlying political causes; minimum wage laws, wage rigidities produced powerful labour unions, centralisation of authority and control, which ultimately ends up into decreased economic activity and many more such government restrictions that do not allow the labour market free hand.


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Those who argue that population growth brings unemployment fail to understand that they contradict themselves. On the one hand, when they emphasise the amount of resources each person uses, they appear to believe that people only consume and do not produce ideas and goods. Yet when they warn that “over-population” causes unemployment, they seem to believe that people only produce and never consume. In fact, it is the question of demand; people demand things as well as produce them, and additional people create new production and employment opportunities.

 

Source: Poverty Alleviation in Pakistan: Present Scenario and Future Strategy, Mohibul Haq Sahibzada. Republished with permission.