In India, a sharp decline in birth rate is the need of the hour. The death rate is already low at 9 per thousand and is expected to decline further. In such a situation, if the birth rate doesn’t fall then it will further increase the population of an already over-populated country. The following arguments are made in favor of a low birth rate.
1. Birth rate and Per-capita Income:
A high birth rate reduces the per-capita income of a country, as the per-capita income is found by dividing the total annual income by total population. This per-capita income is considered an indicator of quality of life. Though national income has increased significantly in India, after independence, the per-capita income did not rise proportionately due to rapid growth of population. While the national income in India grew at a rate of 3.96 percent per annum between 1950-51 and 1990-91, the per-capita income increased at a rate of 1.77 percent per annum during the same period. This reveals that unless we significantly reduce the birth rate, the gains from increase in national income will be eaten by the growing population.
2. Birth rate and burden of unproductive consumers:
In India, children below 15 percent constitute 42 percent and people above 50 constitute 8% of the total population. These children and the old are unproductive consumers and dependent on the workers. Thus 50 percent of the population are parasites and a higher birth rate will further increase their number. Therefore, it is essential to control the birth rate in order to reduce the number of the unproductive consumers.
3. Birth Rate and Economic Devolvement:
A high birth rate stands as an obstacle to the smooth development of an economy. Economic development mainly depends on capital formation and capital formation on savings. Saving is the excess of income over consumption. In India, consumption expenditure is high due to a large population. Further, public expenditure on social infrastructures like schools, hospitals also increases due to rapid growth of population. Thus, more is spent in consumption and proportionately less is available for saving, capital formation and investment Consequently, the economic progress is adversely affected.
4. Birth rate and Employment:
A growing population creates unemployment in an economy. When population grows, the supply of labour also increases. Since our agriculture has already been overcrowded, it cannot provide any further employment. The opportunity to create employment in the industrial and service sector is also limited. In such a situation, if birth rate is not controlled, it will accentuate the problem of unemployment in the economy.
5. Pressure on Environment:
The present environmental degradation is the outcome of population explosion. A high birth rate brings more pollution, more toxic wastes, more green house gases and damages to biosphere. Growth of population has reduced natural resources, like forests, air and water. Further, it increases the world’s temperature. Unless we check this growth of population through a lower birth rate, the damage to environment will be irreparable and the human race will ultimately collapse.