Demographic variables of Population Policy

What do you mean by Population policy?

Population policies are deliberately constructed or modified institutional arrangements and/or specific programs through which governments influence, directly or indirectly, demographic change.[1] For any given country, the aim of population policy may be narrowly construed as bringing about quantitative changes in the membership of the territorially circumscribed population under the government’s jurisdiction.

Population policy simply means the process by which human work force is developed. It guides the government to plan the population program that not only addresses the population problems like over population, but even considers the social and economic conditions of people.[2]

Demographic variables involved in formulation of population policy.
J.J Spangler in his article “Population and World Economic Development” has largely elaborated the demographic variables. They are [2]  [3]

1. Size of population
2. Fertility and Mortality
3. Migration
4. Marital Status
5. Sex ratio
6. Dependency ratio
7. Age Structure
8. Density of Population
9. Distribution of Population
10. Rate of Natural Increase
11. Technological knowhow of population

Size of Population
Size of the population is undeniably the most important factor that determines the population policy. Many developing countries like Nepal are still crawling in early third demographic transition-cycle.[4] For such developing countries, high population growth rate is always an annoyance perpetuating more burdens in terms of equal distribution of resources, employment, health care services, education, sanitation etc.  They do not have any alternative elixir other than ratifying anti-natalist policy to avoid the overpopulation burden and halt the vicious cycle of socio-economic problems. In the contrary, developed countries are really worrying about astonishingly increase of aged dependency rate and decrease of work age population. They are now advocating more births and giving incentives for it. Sweden, for instance, provides special child allowance for more births.

Fertility and Mortality
Fertility and mortality are the major demographic processes that also help to determine the size of population. With changes in fertility and mortality, the population size also varies. Every nation develops and promulgates the population policies based on their national fertility and mortality rates. As developing countries have high fertility rate, they are setting target to lower down it through various sexual and reproductive health and family planning programs.
Similarly, analysis of mortality contributes to the study of replacement and population growth. Moreover, number of death related to mother, infant or other specific group may help to evaluate and amend the current interventional strategies and respective policies.

Migration is the movements of people. It is the third basic factor that brings the changes in population. Population movement tendency is mostly away from the place having environmental, political, economic and cultural push factors, again creating social instability, overcrowding, pollutions etc. However, immigration and internal migration are sometimes regarded as boon for some places and countries.
Therefore, appropriate population policy is required to cope up with the disadvantages of migration, to reassure the equal redistribution of population and to maintain the growth of population and labor force.

Marital Status and Sex ratio
Population policy invariably depends on marital status and sex ratio. Polyandry, Polygamy and early marriage are considerably responsible for growth of population. Similarly, primary, secondary and tertiary sex ratios help to understand how many female births occur and how many of them would be mothers in future.

Dependency ratio and age structure
Population contains all age group people. But, economically, only 15 to 64 age group population is said to be productive for a country. So, the productivity of a country is inversely proportional to the dependency ratio of that country. Similarly, age structure helps to portrait and project the age specific population in country. If middle aged population is more, government will be obligatory to adopt population policy focusing on the health, employment and other requirements of this aged people. Therefore, undoubtedly, population policy of a country is highly influenced by the age structure or population pyramid of that country.

Density and distribution of Population
Density of population is defined as the population per square kilometer of a region where as distribution is the arrangement of population in a space at a given time.[5] As time passes, population of a region will automatically increase and density will be high. Government needs more food production, planned housing facilities, employment and water supply to meet the public demand. Similarly, without sound policy to redistribute its population, people will migrate to the place in search of social security, job opportunities and good living standard.  Government should have the policies on decentralization of its services, health, education and other facilities to avoid the overcrowding of population.  Otherwise, increased density of population in a space will sometimes create social instability.

Technological knowhow of population
Technological development is the boon for human. It helps to overcome the scarcity of resources and socio-economic challenges caused by widespread population by increasing the production, enhancing skill and efficiency, and reducing the human efforts.  Technological knowhow of people enables the countries to be economically strong even if they have decreasing number of working population. In the contrary, without technological knowhow, human work forces have to work assiduously using physical power. That may result in decreasing life expectancy of population as a whole. So, technological knowhow of people noticeably plays an important role in human development.

At the end, besides these demographic variables, economic and political variables also affect in population policy.


1.    Demeny, P., Population policy: A Concise Summary 2003, Population Council.
2.    Ahmed, M.M., Synopsis of Demography and Population Dynamics. 2 ed. Vol. 1. 2012. 121.
3.    Spengler, J.J., Population and World Economic Development Science, 1960. 131(3412): p. 7. Retrieved from on 25/08/2012
4.    Nepal Population Report 2011. 2011, Government of Nepal Minstry of Health and Population Population Division.
5.    Siegel, J.S. and D.A. Swanson, The methods and materials of demography 2ed. Vol. 1. 2004, Theobald’s Road, London: Elsevier Academic Press.
6.    Bista, B.G., Population Policy and Reproductive Health Central Bureau of Statistics.

My education includes training in medicine, public health, clinical research, biostatistics and health response in complex emergency. I have more than seven years of experiences in health research (Survey, Case control studies, Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT), Health Policy and Systems Research). My areas of expertise also include the project management particularly in health sector. I have also experience and interest to work in health emergency in large population in disaster setting.

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