Pakistan: population

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

1998, 2017

Tim Worstall, Pakistan's 6 th Census - 207 Million People Still Stuck In Malthusian Growth, August 26, 2017: The Times of India

Pakistan's population has ballooned to 207.8m, provisional census results show, August 25, 2017: Dawn

Pakistan's population has surged to 207.77 million, having experienced a 57 per cent increase since the last census in 1998, provisional census data presented to the Council of Common Interest (CCI) shows.

The sixth population census in Pakistan, finally carried out by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) earlier this year after a gap of nearly two decades, reveals an acceleration in the population growth rate of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), even as growth in Punjab and Sindh has slowed compared to previous results.

The results of Pakistan's 6 th census have been released and they show that the country has 207 million people. From which we can deduce that Pakistan is still stuck in Malthusian growth, even if things are indeed getting better. There's nothing new or different about this of course, this is just how growth has near always been. Economic advance doesn't mean a substantial rise in standards of living, it just means more people, that's what we mean by Malthusian. It's the breaking out of that pattern which is the modern change, one that Pakistan still hasn't quite managed even though, as I say, things are getting better.

Pakistan’s population has surged to a staggering 207.8 million, showing an increase of 75.4 million people in 19 years, according to provisional summary results of the 6th Population and Housing Census 2017 that were presented in a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) on Friday.

That's a swift increase as population matters go:

The provisional results published by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics showed an average annual growth of 2.4 percent since 1998, when the total population was put at 132.35 million.

Yes, a significant growth rate:

Karachi’s population increased from 9.339 million to 14.91 million – a net addition of 5.56 million people– during the past 19 years.

Note that this is at PPP exchange rates, so it's really measuring what you can buy in a US Walmart with that income. Here's the rise in population over the same time period, from 40 million to over 200 million.

Pure Malthusian growth would be that the graph shown would be flat while population rises. So, Pakistan isn't having pure Malthusian growth, but it's obvious that population is rising very much faster than living standards, which is what puts it more to that end of the spectrum.

The point being that there is economic growth happening here. The country is becoming more productive. But that greater productivity, and thus higher income, is just meaning that more children survive to go on and have children of their own. Well, that's not "just" really, it's great. But that is what we mean by Malthusian growth, that a larger economy shows up as more people at something like the same standard of living, instead of the standard of living being very much higher for the same number of people. Population is up 5x, living standards up 2x, yes, that's at the Malthusian end of the spectrum.

This also doesn't look like ending anytime real soon. The fertility rate, over that same period, is down from perhaps 7 to 3.5 now, but that's still a rapidly expanding population. Most especially as the survival rate today will be very much higher than it was then.

Pakistan houses 106.45m males, 101.31m females and 10,418 transgenders, the provisional data reveals.

The results show that 30.5m people reside in KP, 5m in Fata, 47.9m in Sindh, 12.3m in Balochistan, 2m in Islamabad, while Punjab — the largest province in terms of population — houses 110 million people.

An increase in the urban-rural ratio has been observed in all administrative units except Islamabad, which nonetheless remains the second most urbanised unit of the country.

Over 52pc of Sindh's residents live in urban areas, which has surpassed the capital territory as the most urbanised territory of Pakistan. Close to 36.4pc of Pakistanis live in urban areas, the provisional results reveal.

Balochistan, the least urbanised of Pakistan's provinces, has experienced the fastest average annual growth rate since 1998 of 3.37pc. Punjab's average annual growth rate remained the slowest at 2.13pc, slightly below the national average of 2.4pc.

The provisional results exclude data from Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, which is likely to be included in the final report.

The great breakout, the thing which makes all the difference between a poor country and a rich one, is when the economic growth in living standards is faster than the population one, substantially so. This is what happened in the US, UK, Germany and so on, growth turns up as a rise in living standards (by the same measure we're using here for Pakistan, perhaps $30,000 to $40,000 per person in each of those countries, not an accurate number by the way). The other name we give to this is the demographic transition, something that isn't quite happening as yet in Pakistan.

By the way, no, contraception isn't the answer here although obviously, if people want it, why not? It's that people need to want to have fewer children rather than they have the means of doing so, preferences drive fertility much more than contraception does.

The bottom line here is that there has been substantial economic growth in Pakistan over the decades of its existence. It's just turned up as more Pakistanis, not a substantial rise in the standard of living, it's been Malthusian growth.

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