Population Growth and Economic Development

  • A. P. Thirlwall
Part of the Studies in Biology, Economy and Society book series (SBES)


The relation between population growth and economic development is not an easy topic to write about. The connections are complex, and the historical quantitative evidence is ambiguous, particularly concerning what is cause and what is effect. Does economic development precede population growth, or is population growth a necessary condition for economic development to take place? The complexity of the subject is compounded by the fact that economic development is a multi-dimensional concept meaning different things to different people. For the purposes of this essay, I shall define economic development as a sustained increase in the level of per capita income, although bearing in mind Goulet’s (1971) three core components of a wider meaning of development, namely life-sustenance, self-esteem and freedom.


Population Growth Capita Income Living Standard Birth Control Programme Rapid Population Growth 
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© The Eugenics Society 1988

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  • A. P. Thirlwall

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