The Difference Between Population Growth and Economic Growth

Population growth and economic growth are two interrelated but distinct concepts that have a profound impact on societies and nations. While they are interconnected, they represent different aspects of development. This table compares and contrasts the key aspects of population growth and economic growth.

AspectsPopulation GrowthEconomic Growth
DefinitionIncrease in the number of individuals in aIncrease in the production and consumption of goods
population over a specific periodand services within an economy
FactorsBirth rates, death rates, immigration,Investment, productivity, technological progress,
influencingemigrationinfrastructure development
RelationshipPopulation growth can impact economic growthEconomic growth can influence population dynamics
through changes in labor supply, demand, andthrough factors like improved living standards,
market dynamicshealthcare, and education
Impact onPressure on resources, infrastructure,Improved living standards, increased employment
Society andhealthcare, and education, potential strainopportunities, poverty reduction, enhanced
Economyon social servicessocial services and infrastructure
Policy FocusFamily planning, healthcare, education,Investment in physical and human capital,
immigration policiesinnovation, trade promotion
MeasurementPopulation growth rate, total fertility rate,Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate,
net migration rateper capita income, productivity measures
Regional ExamplesSub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa,China, India, United States, European Union
parts of Asia

Conclusion: Population growth and economic growth are distinct phenomena that have significant implications for societies and economies. Population growth refers to the increase in the number of individuals in a population, influenced by birth rates, death rates, immigration, and emigration. It exerts pressure on resources, infrastructure, healthcare, and education systems. Economic growth, on the other hand, refers to the increase in the production and consumption of goods and services within an economy, driven by factors such as investment, productivity, technological progress, and infrastructure development.

It leads to improved living standards, increased employment opportunities, poverty reduction, and enhanced social services and infrastructure. While population growth can impact economic growth, and vice versa, they are separate concepts with their own policy focuses and measurement indicators. Understanding the differences between population growth and economic growth is crucial for formulating effective policies and strategies for sustainable development.



The population growth rate in East Africa is generally high. This is due to a number of factors, including high fertility rates, young age structures, and declining mortality rates.

High fertility rates are a major driver of population growth in East Africa. The average woman in East Africa has 5.2 children, which is well above the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman.

Young age structures also contribute to population growth. In East Africa, the median age is 18.7 years, which means that there are a lot of young people who are entering their reproductive years.

Declining mortality rates are another factor contributing to population growth. In recent decades, there have been significant improvements in healthcare in East Africa, which has led to lower mortality rates. This means that more people are surviving to adulthood and having children.

Here are the population growth rates in East African countries:

CountryPopulation growth rate (2023)
South Sudan3.5%

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The following are problems that result from the high population growth rate in the East African countries.

1. High Unemployment due to Population Growth

The East African countries grapple with a significant problem stemming from their high population growth rate, which often outpaces the rate at which new job opportunities are generated. This situation leads to a surplus of individuals seeking employment, resulting in high levels of unemployment. The labor market becomes oversaturated, creating intense competition for limited positions. As a consequence, many young and able individuals find themselves without gainful employment or steady income sources. This rampant unemployment not only hampers the socio-economic progress of the region but can also fuel social unrest and dissatisfaction among the population.

2. Congestion in Social Amenities

The rapid growth in population exerts immense pressure on social amenities like schools, hospitals, and housing. The demand for education and healthcare services surges, often exceeding the capacity of existing institutions. Schools become overcrowded, leading to compromised educational quality and limited individual attention for students. Hospitals struggle to provide adequate medical care due to increased patient volumes. Additionally, the demand for housing outstrips supply, resulting in substandard living conditions, informal settlements, and increased urban sprawl. Congestion in these vital sectors hampers the overall well-being of the population and strains the infrastructure.

3. High Dependency Ratio and Slow Economic Development

East African countries with a disproportionately youthful population face the challenge of a high dependency ratio. With a large number of young people who are not yet part of the workforce, the burden on the working-age population to support the dependent population becomes substantial. This situation can hinder economic development as a significant portion of resources must be directed toward supporting non-working individuals instead of being invested in productive activities. The potential demographic dividend that could result from a productive workforce is undermined when a high dependency ratio slows down economic progress.

4. Food Shortages due to High Population Growth

The East African countries’ high population growth contributes to increased demand for food, which often surpasses agricultural production capacity. This can lead to food shortages, inadequate nutrition, and potential famine situations. Agricultural systems struggle to keep up with the escalating demand, sometimes resulting in overexploitation of natural resources, deforestation, and unsustainable farming practices. Inadequate access to sufficient and nutritious food can have severe health and developmental consequences for the population, particularly for vulnerable groups like children and pregnant women.

5. High Crime Rate and Poverty/Unemployment

The convergence of poverty, unemployment, and rapid population growth can foster an environment conducive to crime. A large number of people, particularly the unemployed youth, may find themselves without legitimate means of income. This situation creates a breeding ground for criminal activities, including theft, burglary, and even more serious offenses. The lack of economic opportunities can drive individuals to engage in illegal activities as a means of survival or material gain. High crime rates not only compromise personal safety but also deter potential investors and disrupt social stability.

6. Land Fragmentation due to Agricultural Demand

The increased demand for food resulting from high population growth often leads to intensified agricultural activities. As the population expands, more land is needed for cultivation to meet the rising food requirements. This demand can cause a phenomenon known as land fragmentation, where agricultural land is divided into smaller and smaller plots due to inheritance patterns and subdivision. This land division can reduce the efficiency of farming operations, limit economies of scale, and ultimately hinder agricultural productivity. As a result, the ability to sustainably provide food for the growing population becomes increasingly challenging, exacerbating food security concerns.



What is the population? The word population comes from the Latin word Populus meaning people. Population or human population refers to the total number of people found in a given area at a specified time

The following are the importance of population

  • It promotes the supply of labor that can be used in exploiting or harnessing the idle resources like minerals, land, water bodies etc
  • It can encourage or stimulate the diffusion of technology into the destination from other areas the people who migrate posses different skills of different environmental orientations these can be spread into destination and help in the utilization of local resources

  • Migration can lead to the expansion of market for the local goods in the destination regions
  • It can encourage the intensification of agricultural activities as a result of the reduction in the size of arable land.
  • It can stimulate the growth of towns (urbanization) and the associated advantages.
  • Development of strong defense against external enemies.
Image result for human population



The following are Factors favoring high population growth rate in Africa:

  • Limited use of family planning methods.
  • Many people don’t use family planning methods that’s why end up with many children. This leads to high population growth rate. 
  • Decrease in death rate: There is improvement in the general levels of living, improvement in level of education of people, and improvement in the health services with increase in the number of hospitals, dispensaries and health centers, increase on the number of Doctors and nurses and other health personnel hence decrease in death rate leading to rapid growth of population. 
  • Old-age insurance: Children are considered as insurance for a good life in old ages by their parents, for that they produce more children in order to insure themselves.  

  • High infant mortality rate: Parents produce many children in Africa because of not being sure of the number of children who can survive. To avoid unwanted surprises they produce more, some die and other survive.  
  • Cultural believes for large families: Children are sources of prestige in some societies. Many people produce many children for prestigious reasons.  
  • Early marriage: Women marry at a younger age leading to a longer fertility period and more children are produced leading to rapid growth of population.
  • Religion. Some religions preach to people not to use family planning methods to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Not using family planning results into unwanted pregnancies that lead to rapid growth of population.

causes of high death rate in Africa:

  • Insufficient health facilities like hospitals, health centers and dispensaries with enough care
  • There is rapid increase in population but social services and infrastructures have not increased to match the population growth
  • Political instability and insecurity. Many countries of Africa are engaged into war and insecurity is common in those countries hence loss of lives which lead to decrease on the number of population. Example of some countries of Africa includes Sudan, DRCongo, Maghreb, etc.
  • Low levels of Immunization. Children get infected with infant killer diseases leading to increase in the death rate of young children.
  • Poverty, Many people die because cannot afford to buy requirements of life like drugs and food. The cost of life is high than the revenue of many African people living under poverty.

  • Ignorance. Lack of enough information on health care like reproductive health that leads to death of many people.



Urban growth is the increase in the number of people living in urban areas. It is a global phenomenon that is driven by a number of factors, including economic growth, industrialization, and climate change.

Urban growth can have a number of positive and negative impacts. On the one hand, it can lead to economic growth, job creation, and improved infrastructure. On the other hand, it can also lead to congestion, pollution, and social problems.

A fast rate of population growth is a situation where the population of a country or region is increasing at a rapid pace. This can happen for a number of reasons, including:

  • High birth rates: If the number of births in a country or region is significantly higher than the number of deaths, then the population will grow rapidly.
  • Low death rates: If the number of deaths in a country or region is significantly lower than the number of births, then the population will also grow rapidly.
  • Inflow of migrants: If a country or region experiences a large influx of migrants, then the population will also grow rapidly.

The population can be higher in particular areas due to the availability of social services, (food, shelter, hospital), good economic activities, agriculture, trade, good infrastructure, climatic condition.

When the population is high, it can cause the following effect on the environment.


Soil erosion

This is because when the population grows high, it leads to expansion of settlement and residence because they will need to build houses which involves digging the land for setting the foundation of the houses.


when the population is higher it leads to the expansion of settlement and residence. That people will cut trees in order to create space and for building.

Loss of biodiversity

This is due to risky human activities that endanger the life of living organisms for instance using chemicals in agriculture and fishing and deforestation also causes biodiversity.


this is a condition where the land is bare that it allows the sun to heat directly on the land since there is no land cover’

Air pollution

since the number of people increasing on the environment improve industrialization. That will produce a large amount of gases.


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