Some countries have implemented policies that encourage immigration in order to manage their population.
--BY RAJ KUMAR POKHAREL
Population refers to the total number of people living in a specific place at a given time. Population management is the effort to balance the population size with the availability of resources. When there is an imbalance between the population and resources, it can lead to problems. Because the population is constantly changing, it is important to take the population situation into account when planning and providing necessary resources for the people.
If the population grows beyond the carrying capacity of available resources, it can lead to scarcity and other problems. In other words, population management involves timely monitoring of rapid population growth in order to mitigate potential issues. However, population management is not just about controlling unwanted population growth. It is also about increasing the population in areas where there is a shortage of human resources in order to utilise available resources more effectively.
In the past, particularly before the 1960s, the population was managed naturally due to high birth and death rates. However, life expectancy and other aspects of quality of life were low at that time. Chemical fertilisers had not been invented and modern technologies like antibiotics were not yet available. Therefore, intellectuals and clergy often encouraged people to remain celibate or to have fewer children if they did marry.
Later, scientists developed fertilisers and modern technologies to produce more food and increase life expectancy, which led to a rapid increase in population growth. Alongside these developments in health and life expectancy, scientific methods of birth control were also developed. However, these methods were not always successful in controlling population growth, largely due to religious and social beliefs that favoured having more children. Socioeconomic factors also played a role, as in many societies having more children meant, and still means, having a larger workforce within the family. The gradual social revolution of empowering women has helped to control birth rates in some countries, particularly in the developed world and now also in developing countries like Nepal.
Population Problem Reversed
This has led to a new type of population problem that many countries are now facing. A few decades ago, only developed countries were grappling with an ageing population and a shrinking share of the working-age population. Nepal is also quickly heading in this direction, which ultimately results in development constraints due to a lack of sufficient human resources to utilise available natural and financial resources.
The result is another type of population problem that many countries are facing now. Till a couple of decades ago, only the developed countries were facing the problem of an ageing population, with the share of the working-age population shrinking. Nepal too is speedily heading into that situation. The ultimate result of this trend is that the country goes on facing development constraints to use its available natural, and financial resources due to a lack of sufficient human resources to harness such non-human resources.
Pro & Anti-Natalist Policies
Different countries have implemented various policies to manage population, which can be divided into two categories: pro-natalist and anti-natalist. Pro-natalist policies are implemented in countries with a low population that is insufficient to utilise available resources. These policies aim to increase the birth rate for various reasons, such as strengthening the army, increasing economic production, and enhancing national pride. Under these policies, childbirth is encouraged and abortions are discouraged. Parents or women who give birth may also receive additional social security benefits. Currently, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, France, Singapore, the UK, and Hungary are following pro-natalist policies.
Anti-natalist policies, on the other hand, are implemented in countries with high populations and limited resources. These policies aim to reduce the birth rate through various means. They have taken both direct and indirect methods to control the population. Direct methods include the promotion of the use of contraceptives and abortions. Indirect methods include measures of women empowerment and promoting women employment so that they become more career-oriented and avoid giving birth to children. Countries that have adopted anti-natalist policies in the past include China and India.
Immigration & Population Management
Some countries have implemented policies that encourage or manage immigration in order to manage their population. The United States is a prominent example of this. The country is known for its open society and transparent public policies, which means that its conditions for controlling immigration are less strict compared to other countries. The US government hires people from other countries, including China, to work in the Pentagon and is increasingly recruiting people from abroad for research projects. This allows them to bring in qualified, healthy manpower without having to invest in primary and secondary education.
However, it can be difficult for other countries, such as Russia, Singapore, and India, to use foreign nationals in certain sensitive departments. Nepal is facing a similar situation. We have underutilised our natural resources and human resources. In order to utilise our natural resources, we need to increase our population. However, we are unable to invest capital, which means we have to send people abroad for jobs while our natural resources remain underutilised. Additionally, we are forced to import foreign nationals, particularly Indians, to do even routine jobs.
(The writer holds a Master’s degree in Demography)