2.3: Population and Development
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We can return to the diverging ideas of Malthus and Boserup. Does population growth spur innovation or starvation? Is population growth good or bad?
Population growth has spurred innovation, but interestingly enough, not usually in the places that are experiencing that growth right now. If population growth is dramatically higher than economic growth, the result will not be new technologies and paradigm shifts; it will be emigration or civil unrest.
A country like Russia with a large land mass and a relatively small population may be underpopulated compared to its neighbor, China (Figure 2.7). Having large tracts of uninhabited land has historically invited the attention of outsiders. Underpopulation is not normally the problem that most people would associate with population. When we think of population problems, we generally think of overpopulation. What is overpopulation? Like so many other questions we have asked so far, the answer depends. Overpopulation means an inability to support a population with the resources available.