Is a large population a burden to a country?

Nicholas Wong Hei, 17 Sing Yin Secondary School

Yes. Granted, a large population helps ensure sufficient labour force in an economy. Industrial growth helps a country to rise, and it requires a large labour force.

But, let's look at China. People say that China's growth is evidence that a large population is not a burden. However, China's rise is the result of the combined effects of success in national defence, economic revolution and the flow of foreign capital. The large population did not directly lead to China's current economic success.

Another question is whether a large proportion of the population in China benefit from economic growth. Many people there live below the poverty line. Foreign businessmen are the ones who benefit.

Everyone wants fairness, freedom and human rights. In order to be fair, the resources of a country should be allocated equally to every citizen.

That is fine for a country with a small population. But in a large country, the amount of resources allocated to each individual is so small that it cannot raise the living standards. If a select group of people lead the development of a country, it is unfair to those who are not chosen.

If a country is not wealthy, it often relies on foreign investment. This often leads to exploitation of the local work force. The government usually has little to say about the foreign investors as the financial help it receives is essential to support its expenses.

Medical costs increase enormously in a large country where the population growth is very rapid, too.

While a large population provides a large workforce, it also creates a burden.

Phoenix Lee Ching-kwan, 18

Tin Ka Ping Secondary School

Not really. A large population has always been regarded as a root cause of poverty and most of the poorest countries in the world have huge populations.

But is it a burden? I don't think so. Poverty

is dependent on that country's financial situation. Environmental factors ought to be considered, too.

A large population increases demand for food, land, accommodation, fuel and so forth. With sufficient economic support, all of these demands can be satisfied.

In many developed countries, the local supply of resources is supplemented by imports. Hong Kong has a very high population - it is known as one of the most densely populated places in the world. There is hardly any primary industry here but thanks to a well developed economy, we can afford to import foods, fuel and even water. Land pressure here is indisputably high, yet I don't think it makes the population a 'burden'.

On the mainland, a large population has been a central concern for the authorities since the 1940s. That is the reason for the 'one-child policy', which addresses the problem by restricting growth. However, as the years have gone by, China has undergone economic advancement, and is much more prosperous than in the past.

So although the population is still high, the problems it brings are easing because of increased wealth.

A large population can be beneficial because it provides a pool of labour.

So while a big population can be a burden, it can also be an advantage. The situation varies from country to country.