A large population can be an asset as a resource— human capital. It can also be a hindrance in developmental efforts.
Those who regard population as a resource argue that population growth means a larger labour force which contributes to additional production.
Secondly, population growth may spur technical progress: a huge population creates the ‘demand’ factor and creates a larger pool of potential innovators and, therefore, a larger stock of ideas and innovations that can be put to economic use.
However, a large population can be an asset only if it has the requisite skills as well as attitudes to add value to the technical and economic environment of the country. In a country where education and literacy levels are dismally low, income shares so inequitably distributed that over 30 per cent of the population lives in considerable poverty and national resources for social welfare measures too meagre, most of the population is a burden rather than an asset.
Further, it is only up to a particular size that a population can be sustained, given the limited reserves of resources. Production can be increased but it; too, has its saturation point. Thus, population can be an asset only if it exists at its optimum size. According to the theory of optimum population size put up by Sedgwick and Cannan, that population size which yields highest per capita income, other conditions being equal, is the optimum size.
A large population leads to a number of problems, such as increase in demands of resources for unproductive purposes; growing needs of food-grains; limited savings; low purchasing power; unemployment; decline in man-land ratio; environmental degradation; and pressure on natural resources and public facilities.