The growth and development of the human race has over the centuries grown exponentially. This can be attributed to the various social, cultural, economic, political and anthropological factors that influence man’s perception and course of action. Additionally, in a bid to ensure the survival of the race and also satisfy their need to procreate, the human population has been on the increase at an alarming rate.
Consequently, this population growth has come with its own advantages and disadvantages depending on the prevailing situation. One of the problems arising from population growth is that if unchecked, it may lead to overpopulation which over the years has caused more harm than good to many States.
With this in mind, this paper shall set out to evaluate the impacts of overpopulation to the political, cultural, anthropological and economical perspectives to various economies and societies. The causes and effects shall be discussed and possible solutions and recommendations made. This shall aim at analyzing the extent to which overpopulation is beneficial to the various aspects mentioned in this paragraph.
According to Bommes & Morawska (2005) human overpopulation refers to the overcrowding of people in one area, location or region leading to the exhaustion of natural resources, environmental degradation and impairment to the quality of life.
The impacts of overpopulation have in the recent past influenced the political, social, economic and cultural aspects of human development. It is to this accord that I embark on this study in order to further analyze the positive and negative implications that have and may arise from the same.
Overpopulation has been brought about by various factors. Such factors include the massive immigration and movement of refugee, internally displaced persons (IDPs), expatriates and immigrants, irregular economic development, cultural beliefs and poor population control policies.
As a result, this has led to over exploitation and destruction of natural and human resources, starvation due to inadequate supply of food, overcrowding, high rates of unemployment due to shortages of employment opportunities and finally, political and social unrest experienced in many nations (Bodley, 2005).
In order to study this complex aspect of the human race, I shall implement the various theories and principals developed by credible scholars that try to explain the causes, effects and solutions pertaining to overpopulation. However the concepts vary depending on the field of study and I shall categorize them and provide empirical evidence on each area concerning the influence and magnitudes to which overpopulation is either a threat or an asset.
My main focus shall lie mostly on the social sciences approaches devised to examine overpopulation as an area of study. The theories used in this field have been known to suffice in dealing and examining the various social problems that occur in our day to day lives and overpopulation is no exception.
The various disciplines developed in social sciences, provides the researcher with an opportunity to narrow down a specific problem to its root cause as opposed to general causes and ideas. This shall be helpful in this research as I intend to analyze overpopulation as regarding to its effects on different fields which require different approaches and methodologies.
According to Hunt & Colander (2009), overpopulation can be cause of many advantages and disadvantages. On a psychological perspective, it leads to competition and novelty amongst the people who employ themselves physically and mentally in order to acquire the scarce resources. This in turn improves self efficacy amongst the individuals who over time develop survival instincts in differentiated situations.
However, to some, it may cause feelings of frustration, deprivation, and to a large extent aggression amongst the members of a particular region. This is mainly attributed to the various conflicts that crop up due to scarcity of crucial amenities such as land, food, employment and security. Such inadequacies increases the stress factors and as a result, individuals are most likely bound to vent out such feelings on their societies which they feel that they have failed them or are against their success in their fight for survival.
Overpopulation may also lead to behavioral and moral changes amongst members of a particular group. This is mostly so because each human is distinct in character and in order to co exist, they have to adapt and synchronize with each other. Consequently, if the number of interactions is high, so is the level of influence towards an individual’s personality which eventually leads to a total or partial change in personal traits and behavioral patterns.
According to a web article “Social Impacts of Overpopulation” (2003), there are some major reasons as to why population growth ought to be monitored. The author states that there is an increasing shortage in clean water supply globally due to the rapid drop of water tables mainly due to human consumption. In addition to this, ther is evidence of overfishing and coral reefs which sustain water species are also dying at a very fast rate.
Cities are developing at a high rate which in turn is increasing the levels of pollution to the atmosphere leading to respiratory diseases. Also, an estimated 800 million people globally are said to be malnourished as farmlands succumb to soil erosion and pollution. As a result, there has been an increase in environmental degradation and destruction as man clears forests to make more space for development.
Also, people are constantly relocating due to overpopulation and the technological advancement (industrialization) is causing air pollution which affects the climate leading to such vices as global warming which is threatening the existence and survival of the human race. Spielvogel, 2008) acclaims that due to overcrowding; there has been an increase in criminal activities and moral decadence worldwide.
On the same note, there has been an increase in the emergence of diseases due to poor living and sanitary conditions. At the same time, the rate at which the spread of diseases such as the H1N1 virus (swine flu), bird flu, AIDS and cholera has been alarming mostly due to overcrowding in specific areas and overpopulation worldwide.
Since the wake of time, it has been within man’s knowledge to multiply and fill the earth. The human race is characterized by diversity in terms of cultural norms and beliefs. In as much as most communities have ever since adapted to the changes facing them, most of them still instill and adhere to the various cultures that are followed by their communities.
This especially applies to African countries where overpopulation is rife due to various cultural beliefs and norms evolving around reincarnation, polygamy, and having many children as a sign of wealth and social status (Becker & Vanclay, 2003).
In addition to this, some religions have instigated the presence and development of this problem. For example, the Muslims allow polygamy while some Christians (Catholics) oppose to the use of contraceptives. Such beliefs and norms have led to increased population levels worldwide.
Hunt & Colander, (2009) reiterates that overpopulation has had detrimental effects as well as benefits to the various economies worldwide. They claim that due to overpopulation, there is ample supply of human labor, constant and a large market for products, increased demand which has raised the GDPs of nations and increased competition which has led to competition and technological advancement on a global scale.
However, there have been some negative effects arising from the same. High inflationary rates are being experienced globally due to shortage in supply and increased demand for various goods and services, unemployment has also been on the increase due to lack of sufficient jobs to satisfy the labor market, over-exploitation of resources and unequal distribution of industries and resources.
In addition to this, overpopulation has further widened the inequality gaps as regarding to income and standards of living as well as a rise in the overall cost of living between individuals and nations.
Due to the severity of the situations, many governments have established policies designed to regulate the population growth and limits of their countries. This is mainly because the disadvantage of overpopulation far outweighs the advantages.
In a country like China which holds most of the world’s population, the government has imposed a law which dictates the number of children each family should have and the preference given according to the sex of the child. In addition to this, many nations have invested highly in educating their citizens on family planning and the use of contraceptives.
Accreditation policies have also been implemented in order to regulate the number of immigrants or refugees coming in or going out of a country in order to avoid overpopulation. On the other hand, countries such as Canada whose local population is too low have set incentives to encourage reproduction among its local population. Such incentives include free educational sponsorship by the government or free medical cover to all indigenous new born.
However, there are some policies that have led to the increase of this problem. For example the US offers support cheques and funding to all its citizens who are unemployed or earning little wages. This has contributed to the increase in population because most of the people living in poverty are the ones with large families as opposed to those who are rich and able.
In addition to this, the policies supporting interracial and intercultural marriages has further contributed to this problem due to the fact that the couples adapt to the various cultures or even develop a new one as pertaining to procreation.
Political instabilities and insecurities have also contributed their fair share in this problem (hunt & Colander, 2009). Due to these factors, there has been an increase in rape cases, unemployment, poverty and movement of refugees and IDPs. Additionally, these factors have led to poor administration of population policies and inaccurate census figures in various countries making the regulating and monitoring process nearly impossible.
Each perspective presents a very noble case towards the existence, causes and effects of overpopulation to human beings. However, the anthropological perspective holds more weight than the rest. This is because the human existence is purely based on morals and beliefs which act as guidelines to all that we do. Overpopulation evolves around procreation which is core to man’s culture as regarding to the continuity of their lineage (family name) and generally the human race.
According to the information gathered, overpopulation cannot be confined to any one of the mentioned disciplines. This is due to the fact that each perspective has different causes and effects to overpopulation. However, overpopulation as is with all other social problems is caused by a series of events which interlock within the political, social, economic and cultural aspects affecting the human race.
This means that a combination of these disciplines would provide more insight on the problem as opposed to isolating each. For example, due to the unison cultural and personal belief that we should procreate, the human race has over the years been increasing in numbers as a result, there has grown an interest and need for land forcing others to relocate in order to meet this need while others clear natural resources to gain more land to accommodate them as a result of this, there has been an increase in the emergence of cities and industries leading to soil and air pollution which has affected the climate.
As a result, farmlands have become less productive and the food provided cannot suffice the population requirements causing malnutrition and starvation of many people who end up feeling deprived, frustrated and being aggressive.
This aggression culminates into violence leading to political and social instabilities and insecurities among the citizens. This example shows a combination of the various perspectives as a single chain of events that best explains the causes and effects of overpopulation.
Overpopulation is indeed a force to reckon with its impacts and effects have proven to be detrimental to man’s survival in this planet. Its effects have managed to slip into all aspects that govern the human race leaving us in a chaotic and dangerous setting. The various perspectives that are influenced by overpopulation have been highlighted and the weaknesses and points of strength therein discussed.
Something ought to be done in order to curb this ever growing menace before it goes beyond control. In so doing, we shall have secured a safe and peaceful future for the oncoming generations with a unified culture based on self sustenance and balance.
Becker, H, A & Vanclay, F. (2003). The International handbook of social impact assessment: conceptual and methodological advances. Edward Elgar Publishing
Bodley, J, H. (2008). Anthropology and contemporary human problems. Rowman & Littlefield
Bommes, M & Morawska, E, T. (2005). International migration research: constructions, omissions, and the promises of interdisciplinarity. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd
Facstaff. (2003). Social Impacts of Overpopulation. Retrieved 15, March, 2010 from
Hunt, E, F & Colander, D, C. (2009). Social Science: An Introduction to the Study of Society. 13/e: Pearson Education
Spielvogel, J, J. (2008). Western Civilization: Alternate Volume: Since 1300. Cengage Learning