**Over, Under, and Optimum Population**

The concept under, over, and optimum population came as opposition to the Malthus theory of population.

As in the Malthus theory of population, Malthus asserted that population growth is always bad for any geographical region and it leads to a food crisis if population growth is high. But, actually, population growth in some areas is very much needed for the effective utilization and development of the region.

**For example**, in Canada and Russia, population growth is very much needed for their development and resource utilization. As human does not have the only stomach to eat but also have two hands and a brain for creating & utilizing resources, the population is not a problem as Malthus asserted.

The concept of under, over and optimal population tries to make the relationship between the human population and resource availability of particular regions. As per this concept, population growth is not always bad for countries as it increases the number of the working population that further increases the development by utilizing resources efficiently.

The **optimum population** is the population that, when combined with the country's other available resources or methods of production, yields the highest return or revenue per head. Confucius was the first to propose the notion of the optimal population. Edwin Cannan proposed the optimum theory of population in his book Wealth (1924). Robbins, Carr-Saunders, and **Dalton** popularised the hypothesis.

**Assumptions/Postulations**

Optimum Population Theory is based on the following assumptions:

- The
**natural resources**of a country are given at a point of time, but they**change over time.** - There is
**no change in techniques**of production. - The
**stock of capital remains constant.** - The
**habits and taste of the people do not change.** - The
**ratio of the working population to total population remains constant**even with the growth of population. **Working hours of labour do not change.****Modes of business organisation are constant.**

**Optimum Population Theory**

- The optimum population is the population size that produces the most income per head.
- Any
**increase or decrease**in population size above or below the optimal level reduces revenue per head. - Given a country's
**natural resource pool, production technique, and capital stock,**there is a certain population size that corresponds to the highest per capita income. - Other things
**being equal,**any variation from the optimum population size will result in a decrease in per capita income. - If population growth is accompanied by a rise in per capita income, the country is under-populated and can afford to raise its population until it reaches the optimal level.
- If an increase in population leads to a
**decrease in per capita income**, the country is overpopulated and requires a population decrease until per capita income is maximized. - At the
**optimal point,**per capita income is the highest; beyond that, the average labor product begins to decline. - The optimal population is not a fixed point; it fluctuates if any of the components change.
- If
**manufacturing methods**and processes improve, output per person increases and the optimal point shifts upwards. - The country's optimal point will rise as its natural resource supply grows.
- The
**optimum population**is subject to change in response to quantitative and qualitative changes in the means of production. - As a result, the optimal point is always changing higher or lower. We cannot establish a
**country's optimal population**on a permanent basis since its productive elements and techniques change with time.

**Over-Population**

- If the population continues to grow and the optimum is reached, we will reach the
**over-population stage.** - There will be an overabundance of individuals in the land. The country's resources will not be adequate to provide all citizens with productive work.
- Average productivity will plummet, per capita income will fall, and the standard of life will deteriorate.
- These are the consequences of overpopulation.
**Food scarcity, sickness and mortality, overstressed resources,**an increase in independents, and open and concealed unemployment are the economic consequences of overpopulation.

Under-Population

**Under-Population**

- A country is considered to be under-populated if its population is less than optimal, i.e. less than what it should be.
- The
**population is insufficient**to fully exploit the country's resources. The resources are great, and much can be produced; yet,**men are insufficient.** - The community will not be able to benefit from the economies of scale. In such circumstances, a rise in population will be accompanied by an increase in per capita income.
- When the shortfall is filled, the per capita income reaches its maximum and the optimum is realized.

Postulations

**Optimum Population Theory - Postulations**

- A country's natural resources are granted at a certain moment in time, but they vary throughout time.
- Production procedures remain unchanged.
- The
**capital stock**remains constant. - People's habits and preferences do not change.
- Despite population growth, the working population-to-total population ratio stays stable.
- The working hours of labor remain constant.
- Organizational modes in business are consistent.

Dalton’s Formula

**Dalton’s Formula**

- In the form of a formula,
**Dalton**has inferred overpopulation and underpopulation, which result in divergence from the optimal level of population. - Maladjustment is the divergence from the ideal (M).
- Maladjustment is determined by two variables: the ideal population level O and the actual population-level A.
- The
**maladjustment**is then M= ((A – O) / O). - If M is greater than one, the country is overpopulated; if it is less than one, the country is underpopulated.
- When M is zero, the country has the optimal population.

Examples

**Optimum Population Theory - Examples**

- Despite being the third most populous country, the United States is not overpopulated; rather,
**Saharan nations**are overpopulated due to a lack of resource usage. - Singapore has a high population density, yet it has been able to sustain its population well thanks to efficient resource usage.

Superiority over Malthusian Theory

**Superiority over Malthusian Theory**

- The idea is preferable to the
**Malthusian theory**since it applies to all nations regardless of economic situations. - The
**hypothesis**linked the population problem to the country's entire population, including agricultural and industrial. - The idea is dynamic in the sense that per capita income may rise over time as output increases owing to advancements in knowledge, skill, capital, and equipment.
- The idea takes an optimistic and realistic approach to the population problem.

Drawbacks

**Optimum Population Theory - Drawbacks**

- Despite its advantages over the
**Malthusian theory**of population, the optimal theory has severe flaws. - There is no evidence of an optimal level in any country.
- It is difficult to determine the optimal level.
- It is not feasible to calculate the correct per capita income.
- The
**distribution**of per capita income is ignored. The optimal level is not permanent but fluctuates over time. - It disregards social and institutional circumstances.
- There is no place for it in governmental policies. Does not describe the factors that
**influence population increase.**