Overpopulation in Pakistan: Causes, Effects and Measures to Control Population


Overpopulation in Pakistan: Causes, Effects and Measures to Control Population


Overpopulation is one of the major social problems of Pakistan. Population growth rate since 1947 has been increasing at an alarming rate. Merely a large number of people do not constitute a population problem; it is the quality of population, which reflects the nature of problems in comparison with existing resources.

Pakistan is endowed with vast human resources, which have a tremendous developmental potential. Unfortunately, on account of inadequate pace of growth of the economy, paucity of capital resources, faulty manpower planning and inappropriate choice of techniques of production, the country has not been able to optimally utilise this vast resource with the result that it is confronted with a serious unemployment problems. The extent of unemployment has a great bearing on the poverty and the equitable distribution of income. Hence providing adequate and increasing employment opportunities and ensuring a reasonable living standard for all the people in the country remain the paramount aims of our effort in this sector.

Pakistan’s population suffers from high birth rate, low per capita income, high dependency ratio, underemployment, low participation of labour force, poor health, and hygiene and literacy standards. While the crude death rate came down from 30 to 10.1 per thousand since 1947 the crude birth rate declined only slightly from 50 to 39.5 per thousand, thereby pushing the population growth rate from 2% in 1950 to 2.6% in 1990s.

Causes of High Population Growth in Pakistan:

According to 1998 population census total population of Pakistan was 130.6 million showing an overall increase of about 55% over the last census and in 1981. Now the population of Pakistan is expected to reach the level of 220 million. Some of the causes of high population growth in Pakistan are enumerated as under:

Control of infant mortality:

Number of maternity centres, child clinics, trained dais and midwives has increased considerably since independence. New methods for caring and rearing of children are being adopted by the people. Moreover, general health education has also increased. All these factors have helped in decreasing infant mortality i.e., the number of deaths of baby belonging to age group of 0-11 months.

Introduction of modern medicines:

In the modern age there are patent medicines for various diseases, which were previously considered incurable. The insecticides have also helped a lot in decreasing the death rate and indirectly affected the natural increase in population.

Highly fertility among Muslims:

If we analyse the pre-partition data Indo-Pakistan subcontinent regarding the fertility rate classified on religious basis, the rate of fertility among Muslims was higher. A few reasons for higher fertility among the Muslims are enumerated as under

  • Polygamy: For an adult Muslim four wives are allowed (under Family Laws now there are some restrictions) if he could treat them equally. This factor has been enhancing the chances of more children in comparison to other Monogamous groups.
  • The remarriage of a widow is in vogue among Muslims which gives them a chance to again enjoy a matrimonial relation and then have children. On the other hand, among Hindus the widow is not allowed to remarry (nowadays they are becoming liberal).
  • It is one of the sacred duties of the parents among Muslims to get their children married as early as possible. Thus, the children get married in their most fertile age, produce large number of children. Celibacy among the Muslims is also disallowed.
  • Antagonistic attitude of the Muslim clerics towards family planning further enhances the rate of population growth. A large number of children in Muslim families are considered a blessing from God.
  • Misinterpretation of religious values pertaining to reproduction and attitude towards the new population among the Muslims have similarly stimulated the birth rate.


Illiteracy of the masses and specifically among the womenfolk further aggravates the situation. There is lack of knowledge about the effectiveness of contraceptives and such other methods to control the birth rate.

Geographical Environment:

Geographical environment also plays a significant role in giving stimulus to the high birth rate. The climate of Pakistan is hot and pleasant which is quite favourable for higher rate of fertility.

Desire for a Male Child:

In our society, the urge for a male child is generally a “felt-need”. So the parents of female children go on having a large number of issues in the hope of getting a male child, which is a matter of chance. This type of attitude further increases the number of babies in a family.

Better Sanitation:

With the overall development in material culture the standard of sanitation and general cleanliness has improved. There are proper arrangements of water supply for clean drinking and efficient drainage system in urban areas. At different socio-economic and cultural gatherings like “mandis”, markets and fairs, there are proper arrangements of vaccination and such other preventive measures by different government and private agencies, which help in decreasing the rate of diseases. Malaria Eradication Program and Social Action Programs (SAP) also helped a lot in saving a large number of human lives from fatal diseases.

Control over National and other Calamities:

In the past, floods, wars, famine and epidemics were the natural checks on population growth, which have now been controlled to a great extent. Obviously, control over the natural calamities has resulted in saving the lives of many people. Nowadays, with the development of natural sciences and modern transportation and communication systems, natural calamities can be anticipated well in time and suitable steps can be taken for safety.

Misdirected family-planning publicity:

Though family planning organisation is working in Pakistan, but still it is not so popular among the masses. The lack of propaganda and ignorance of the masses are the main reasons for the lack of its popularity. Pseudo-religious leaders also play important role in cultivating hostile attitude among masses towards family planning.

Philosophical support:

Philosophical support for logical thinking of the people also plays a vital role in the rapid growth of population. Some people claim that the man is above all other creations and thus he should not be used as means to other ends. And he should not be denied of the enjoyments and luxuries through contraceptives and late marriages. This type of support further leads to rapid growth of population which is really a dangerous problem for the present as well as future generations.

Political power:

Some people believe that the greater number of people are associated with manpower and political power in a country. So they do not mind higher birth rate.

Effects of Higher Birth Rate:

The increasing birth rate of the country is going on multiplying the numbers, which has created social problems for the private as well as public exchequer. A few of the increasing need for the country as a whole are enumerated as under:

Establishment of new Educational Institutes:

More and more number of schools and colleges are required for teaching the increasing population in the country to meet the growing needs of the new population. This may include both the technical and professional training institutes to make the coming generations are more useful citizens for the country.

Establishment of new Health Facilities:

The demand for hospitals, child and maternity care clinics also increases. The hospitalisation facilities are the basic requirements for the public. The need for these humanities increases with the rapid growth of population.

Housing problem:

The housing and settlement problem becomes acute with the growth of population which further enhances and complicates the problem of crime and its control.

Social Welfare Programs:

Social welfare facilities like employment, security, old age pension, and life insurance have to be increased with the increase of population. These facilities thus become a heavy burden for underdeveloped country like Pakistan.

Burden on Natural Resources:

If the ratio of the children is much higher in the country the economic burden would be greater, as the major resources of the country would have to be exploited to meet the needs of the children. In the same way, more recreational and play facilities are required for the children. With the increasing population and the exploitation of the natural resources would also increase, which will ultimately ruin the wealth of the country in the long run.

Political and Economic Instability:

Political, Social, Religious and Economic instabilities may increase. Due to the rapid growth of population the process of disorganisation and reorganisation becomes a permanent feature, which directly and indirectly affects the Political, Economic and Social Institutions of the country. Large-scale mobility from the rural to the urban areas badly affects the institutions of rural areas with a decreasing rate of support from the remaining inhabitants. On the other hand, the burden of city corporations and municipalities increases with the influx of new migrants.

Problem of Social Interaction and Social Control:

The heterogeneity in a society increases with the decrease in primary relations. Through urbanisation and the increasing number of persons the relationship becomes more and more secondary, which also enhances the problem of social control in a society.

Low yield crop production versus labour and capital:

Increasing number of persons on limited quantity of land would ultimately result in low yield per acre as well as low living standards due to the law of diminishing return. For instance, if we go on increasing the amount of labour and capital on a fixed price of land, a time would come when the input would surpass the output. The same would be the case in Pakistan: if the dependence of rising numbers goes on increasing on a limited piece of land, the rate of income per acre versus capital and labour would be decreasing.

Suggestions to stop Population Bomb:

Some of the suggestions to check the population explosion are discussed below:

Birth control:

Birth control does not mean that there should be no children at all but the idea is that the rate of births may be controlled in such a way that there should be reasonable interval between the birth of the babies, which may result in the sound health of the parents.

More literacy and education:

Large number of primary and secondary schools should be opened especially in the rural areas in order to educate the people. Diffusion of knowledge would change the attitude of the masses which may encourage the program of family-planning. Evening classes for adults should also be held to impart knowledge regarding socio-economic betterment. This will serve as a check on the rapid growth of population in an indirect way.


Industrialisation means modernisation of production, distribution and exchange of goods and services. It leads to urbanization – more mobility, more commercialisation, better living standards, better education and better facilities for recreation. Industrialisation indirectly and directly affects the rate of fertility in society. It should also be taken into consideration that both industrialisation along with development in the field of agricultural industry is the basic need of Pakistan. This would raise the living standards which would decrease the birth rate in the country after a long time. At the initial stages, industrialisation may not show favourable results as the example of Western countries is before us

Late Marriage:

People should be educated to marry late, which is also one of the most effective methods of controlling the rapid growth of population. For example, if a person marries at the age of 17 he has immense fecundity for reproduction while, on the other hand, if he gets the chance of having a wife at the age of 30 he would have passed the age with more fecundity.


We do not want to indulge and interfere in religious matters, but it is obvious, if there is one wife, the number of children will be definitely less in comparison to person having more wives. As in the former case during the pregnancy a husband is not in a position to engage his wife in sexual intercourse. In the latter case he has other wives there is every chance of enhancing the birth rate. It would not be out of place to mention here that under the new family laws we are now moving towards monogamy.


The non-availability of recreational facilities especially for the poor classes, who constitute a majority of the population, is also a great problem. The person who works all day long and has to spend the evening without any recreation feels bored. Such people have no enjoyment except sexual activities with their wives, which increase the birth rate. Every effort should be made to provide recreational activities to all the classes of people.

Redistribution of Population:

As the population in Pakistan is unevenly distributed i.e., all areas are not thickly populated. The population in areas with heavy pressure can be transferred to areas, which are sparsely populated. Government planned mobility of labour can be encouraged. This may lead to better and useful utilisation of resources of the country thus, enabling greater number of people to enjoy a reasonable standard of living.

Family Planning:

Family planning is one of the many social welfare programs which the government starts for the betterment of the masses. Every effort should be made to make this movement successful in Pakistan. Religious sanction should be sought from Ulemas to get favourable public opinion regarding late marriage and Planned Parenthood. The government of Pakistan is also trying its utmost to make this movement successful.

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