Population Dynamics in Pakistan: Past, Present and Future (PB-35)

Population Dynamics in Pakistan: Past, Present and Future (PB-35)

Publication details

  • Friday | 23 Aug, 2013
  • Muhammad Asif Wazir
  • Policy Briefs/Papers
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Muhammad Asif Wazir Introduction

Pakistan is one of the largest and fastest growing countries in the world. In 2010, it ranked 6th most populous country and will stand at 4th in 2050. Pakistan’s rapid population growth, during the second half of the 20th century, can largely be explained by the conventional demographic transition theory i.e. rapid decline in mortality rate combined with a gradual decline in fertility rate. Consequently, the country’s population has been growing untamable since independence in 1947 i.e. from 34 million reported in the first census in 1951 to 132 million in 1998 and estimated at 183 million inhabitants in 2012.

Since the 1950, Pakistan has experienced a significant population growth rate ranging between two to four per cent per annum. During the period of 1950-1985, the country’s population had grown at the average rate of 3 per cent per annum. However, it declined to an average of 2.6 per cent per annum during the period 1986-2000. In 2010, the population growth rate in Pakistan was 1.8 per cent. Pakistan is likely to continue experiencing population growth in the near and distant future at least until 2050 and more so than any other world region except sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, rapid population growth in Pakistan hindered the socio-economic development in the past and it will have to adopt the development model capable to absorb the increase. If country fails, it will be confronted with several major risks, including political instability and poverty trap.

Pakistan has remarkably young age structure. In 2010, nearly two-thirds of the Pakistani population was less than 30 years old with a median age of 21.7 years. The young age structure has been persistent in Pakistan for the last five decades.  The share of school age population (0-14 years old)  was on the average 40 per cent from 1950s to 2000 and estimated at 36 per cent (61 million) in 2010. The share of working-age population (15-64 years old) has been growing from 54 per cent in the 1950s to 61 per cent in 2010 (See table 1). Currently, the South Asian region along with Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world with a young age structure and significant population growth. Within South Asia, Pakistan stands out with the highest population growth rate and very young age structure.