Population growth is a vexing issue in the modern world. The world's human population is estimated to be approximately six billion people, the highest in history. Improvements in science, math, medicine,and engineering are largely responsible for the ability of humans to live longer, as well as accumulate more wealth -- however unevenly distributed. Because of the large and growing human population , it is important to understand the economic factors that contribute to both increases and decreases in population growth.
Food and Water
The availability of natural resources, such as food and water, plays a large role in determining the rate of population growth within a nation or group. If there is no food for a group of people to eat, it will be difficult for them to survive. This is one of the primary reasons there are few inhabits of Antarctica. It cannot provide adequate food resources to its inhabitants, and thus can sustain only the smallest populations.
Personal Financial Means
People who have comfortable financial lifestyles can cause increases in population. Because they have the means to support multiple children, they may take advantage of this position and actually have more children. Society is complex, however, and some who receive government welfare have multiple children in spite of their inability to be financially responsible for themselves. While not always the case, affluent nations or groups tend to promote population growth, because they have the means to acquire the necessities of life, such as food, shelter, clothing, as well as superfluous things.
A society that consumes products and services voraciously can ultimately cause population growth to become negative, or to decrease. Ultimately, if a population becomes too large, through excess consumption, it may not be able to sustain and support itself. Death, disease and war can result. The Earth only has a finite amount of resources, many of which are non-renewable, including oil. Many environmental advocates feel that every individual should become more self-sufficient, in terms of consumption, to promote a more sustainable lifestyle.
An economic recession can be a contributing factor to decreasing population growth. Recessions put people out of work, often severely hampering the ability to provide for themselves. If people have difficulty providing only for themselves, it will be difficult for them to afford taking on the responsibility of providing for children. A failing economy that has high unemployment can be a limiting agent to population growth.