THERE are many who have for long been arguing that the country’s population is increasing uncontrollably and that there will soon be a situation when not enough resources will be available to sustain the masses. Is our population really growing at a rapid speed? Is it true that our population will be doubled soon?

The very first indicator to understand the population trajectory is the total fertility rate (TFR), which is the average of a woman giving birth. Pakistan’s TFR in 1951 was 6.8, with a population of 33.7 million in West Pakistan. Due to the high TFR, the population nearly doubled in 1971 with 62.5 million people.

Now, as per the 2023 census, we are a nation of 241.4 million people. The estimated fertility rate in 2021 was 3.47, which decreased to 3.3 in 2022, 3.23 in 2023, and is now 3.18 in 2024. There has been a continuous decline which is evidence of a steady fall in TFR terms. As of now, we can infer that our population will not be doubled anytime soon.

TFR value of 3 means there will be a 50 per cent increase within a generation, which soans 20-30 years. That is to say that in 2050, the population of the country will be somewhere around 362 million. On the other hand, Goldman Sachs, an investment banking firm, has estimated that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) will increase from $375 billion today to $3.3 trillion by 2050.

The numbers speak for themselves. There is a need to minimise negativity by spreading despair and myths. For a better Pakistan, let us be positively realistic.

Tufail Ahmed Kandhro
Karachi

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2024

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