Optimum Population

The optimum population is defined as the size of the population that gives the maximum per capita income followed by the highest possible standards of living under a given set of economic and technological conditions.

The optimum population is an economic concept that denotes the balanced relationship between the population and resources of an area.

Optimum Theory of Population was developed by economists Edwin Cannan and Carr-Saunders of the London School of Economics to react to the Malthusian theory of population.

Following are some definitions of the optimum population given by different authors:

  1. According to Boulding, the optimum population is the population at which the standard of living is maximum.
  2. According to Dalton, the population that gives the maximum income per head is called the optimum population.
  3. As per Peterson, "Optimum population is the number of people in a given natural, cultural and social environment that produces the maximum economic return.
  4. According to the Carr-Saunders, the population which produces maximum social welfare is called the optimum population.

What are the Assumptions of Optimum Population Theory?

The theory of optimum population is based on two important assumptions:

  1. The ratio of working population to total population remains constant with an increase in the country's population.
  2. With the increase in the population of a country, the natural resources, the capital stock, and the state of technology remain unchanged.

How to Measure Optimum Population?

The optimum population is a theoretically perfect situation that is difficult to estimate or measure. The measurement of optimum population size for an area is extremely difficult to calculate, but the following criteria may be used to assess the optimum population.

  1. Rational development of resources
  2. Balanced demographic structures
  3. Balanced population-resource ratio
  4. The proportion of expenditure on food
  5. Per capita consumption of food and energy
  6. The highest average standard of living
  7. Availability of pure drinking water and air
  8. Dependency ratio
  9. Life expectancy
  10. Per capita income
  11. Full employment
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