Population Growth and Economic Development

  • A. P. Thirlwall


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 chapter, 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. The level of per capita income may be a reasonable proxy for life sustenance, but a poor indicator of the distribution of income and of educational and job opportunities which give people self-respect, independence and freedom to choose.


Population Growth Capita Income Living Standard National Income Birth Control Programme 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. BOSERUP, E. (1965) The Conditions of Agricultural Growth (London: Allen & Unwin).Google Scholar
  2. BOSERUP, E. (1981) Population and Technological Change: A Study of Long Term Trends (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).Google Scholar
  3. CASSEN, R. (1976) ‘Population and Development: A Survey’, World Development, October/November.Google Scholar
  4. CLARK, C. (1967) Population Growth and Land Use (London: Macmillan).Google Scholar
  5. CLARK, C. (1969) ‘The “Population Explosion” Myth’, Bulletin of the Institute of Development Studies (University of Sussex), May.Google Scholar
  6. CLARK, C. (1978) ‘Population Growth and Productivity’, Research in Population and Economics, vol. 1.Google Scholar
  7. DIXON, R. and A.P. THIRLWALL (1975), ‘A Model of Regional Growth Rate Differences on Kaldorian Lines’, Oxford Economic Papers, vol. 27, pp. 201–14.Google Scholar
  8. EASTERLIN, R. (1967) ‘The Effects of Population Growth on the Economic Development of Developing Countries’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, January.Google Scholar
  9. ENKE, S. (1966) ‘The Economic Aspects of Slowing Population Growth’, Economic Journal, vol. 76, pp. 44–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. ENKE, S. (1971) ‘Economic Consequences of Rapid Population Growth’, Economic Journal, vol. 81, pp. 800–811.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. GLOVER, D. and J. SIMON (1975) ‘The Effects of Population Density upon Infrastructure: The Case of Road Building’, Economic Development and Cultural Change, no. 23.Google Scholar
  12. GOULET, D. (1971) The Cruel Choice: A New Concept on the Theory of Development (New York: Atheneum).Google Scholar
  13. GOUROU, P. (1965) The Tropical World: Its Social and Economic Conditions and its Future Status, 4th edn (London: Longman).Google Scholar
  14. HARROD, R. (1949) Towards a Dynamic Economics (London: Macmillan).Google Scholar
  15. HIRSCHMAN, A. (1958) Strategy of Economic Development (New Haven: Yale University Press).Google Scholar
  16. HOOVER, E. and A. COALE (1958) Population Growth and Economic Development in Low Income Countries (Princeton: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  17. KELLEY, A.C. and J.G. WILLIAMSON (1974) Lessons from Japanese Development: An Analytical Economic History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).Google Scholar
  18. KEYNES, J.M. (1937) ‘Some Economic Consequences of a Declining Population’, Eugenics Review, April.Google Scholar
  19. KUZNETS, S. (1967) ‘Population and Economic Growth’, American Philosophical Society Proceedings, vol. III, June.Google Scholar
  20. NEHER, P.A. (1971) ‘Peasants, Procreation and Pensions’, American Economic Review, vol. 61, pp. 380–389.Google Scholar
  21. RAWLS, J. (1972) A Theory of Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  22. SIDGWICK, H. (1907) Methods of Ethics, 7th edn (London: Macmillan).Google Scholar
  23. SIMON, J. (1977) The Economics of Population Growth (Princeton: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  24. SIMON, J. (1981) The Ultimate Resource (Princeton: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  25. THIRLWALL, A.P. (1972) ‘Population Growth and the Growth of Output and Living Standards in a Production Function Framework’, Manchester School of Economics and Social Studies, December.Google Scholar
  26. THIRLWALL, A.P. (1987) ‘Keynes, Economic Development and the Developing Countries’, in A.P. Thirlwall (ed.) Keynes and Economic Development, Proceedings of the 7th Keynes Conference, University of Kent at Canterbury (London: Macmillan).Google Scholar
  27. YOUNG, A. (1928) ‘Increasing Returns and Economic Progress’, Economic Journal, December.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Colin Clark Trust Fund, Department of Economics, University of Queensland 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. P. Thirlwall

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations