Pakistan, poverty trap and its population growth
With an estimated population of 165 million and a population growth rate of about 2 per cent per annum, the country’s population is increasing by 3.3 million people a year. This high rate of growth is the biggest hurdle standing in the way of efforts to reduce poverty
At Pakistan’s last official national census in 1998, the population was 132.4 million, with an intercensul annual growth rate of 2.6 per cent. In mid-2001, the population was estimated at 142.5 million, with a growth rate of 2.1 per cent. At the end of 2007, it was estimated at 165 million, with a growth rate of 1.9 per cent – according to official estimates. Some independent estimates, however, put Pakistan’s current population at 170 million, with an annual growth rate of 2.1 to 2.2 per cent. The next national census is due to be held in October this year.
Pakistan currently adds about 3.3 million people to its population each year. As in other rapidly growing countries, its population is young, with 41 per cent under the age of 15. The large adolescent population (age 15 to 24), will soon be entering married life and will contribute to the potential population growth for several decades to come. This constitutes the population momentum, which is influenced by past fertility patterns.
Another striking change that has occurred in the last three decades is the more rapid growth of the urban population. According to official figures, while the total population of the intercensul period 1981 to 1998 grew at about 2.6 per cent a year, the urban population grew even faster at about 3.5 per cent a year. At the time of the first post-independence census in 1951, the area that now constitutes Pakistan (the former West Pakistan) had a reported population of 33.8 million, with a population density of about 43 people per square kilometre. According to the 1998 census, this figure increased to 164 people per square kilometre, almost four times the 1951...