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Under-population  (UNDER-POPULATION)

Consideration of the relation between population and resources leads to the concepts of over-population 1 aud under-population 2. These terms are, of course, defined only at a given fixed level of development 3. There is said to be over-population when the elimination of a number of inhabitants would yield certain advantages to the remainder. Under-population, on the other hand, implies that such advantages would accrue from a rise in numbers. When neither an increase nor a decrease would yield advantages, there is said to be an optimum population 4, sometimes briefly called an optimum 4. The advantages yielded may be economic in character and in that case it is an economic optimum 5. The discussion of economic optima generally proceeds in terms of economic welfare but as this is difficult to ascertain empirically, the level of living 6 or standard of living 6 is sometimes substituted. This is approximated by the real national income per head 7, i.e., the total amount of goods and services produced in a particular period (or its equivalent in money income adjusted for variation in purchasing power) divided by the total population during the period.

  • 5. Some writers have used the concept of a power optimum and a social optimum as well as of an economic optimum.
  • 6. The expression "standard of living" is restricted by some economists to mean an accepted goal or recognized set of needs, as contrasted with the level of living actually attained. Others use these terms interchangeably.
  • 7. The erroneous term per capita is sometimes used.


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