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Uncontrolled Birthrate And Overpopulation In Nigeria


This study attempts to discuss the reoccurring incident of uncontrolled child birth in Nigeria. Findings determined that high fertility and birth rate contributes positively to high population growth while further findings revealed that high population growth rate in Nigeria exerts negative consequences on the Nigeria’s economy. For example, the current population of Nigeria is about 170 million people, while the amount of unemployed is still

more than those employed. Expert’s for cast that by 2050, Nigeria’s population is expected to surpass that of the U.S. and subsequently exceed 400 million. It is believe to exceed one billion and could potentially surpass China by 2100; all living in a country about the size of Texas. (The Borgen Project, 2015).

The researcher therefore addresses this issue through wood sculpture. It is pertinent to note that wood sculpture popularly known as wood carving has been used by artist to communicate, enlighten, address and document events for decade, right from the inception of colonialism when the Romans first set foot on the soil of Benin in 1914. Hence the researcher has chosen this medium to echo the need for all Nigerians to check mate their birthrate. This can only be possible if there is literacy in areas such as; family planning; use of contraceptive; sex education amongst others.



 Uncontrolled fertility can be defined as when an individual or couple  fails to plan their future family size to match the economic level of their family. It can also occur when youths (whether adolescent, teenagers or adults) get themselves involve in illicit sex, as a result leading to unwanted pregnancy. Fertility is often higher in developing countries than in developed ones, which means that women living in countries, like Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria and others tends to have more children in their lifetime.

Generally, in the African context, to limit family size is a selfish act of individuals unwilling to make personal sacrifices for the good of the larger society. This is why in Nigeria, the more children a woman (or a couple) is able to procreate, the matrimonially fulfilled the culture considers the couple. Uncontrolled fertility is a function of a variety of factors classified into proximate and distal factors (Yohannes, 2004). The proximal factors are bio- behavioral factors otherwise known to be the intermediate determinants and are; the biological, reproductive and behavioral factors, through which the indirect determinants must devour to affect fertility directly, while the later, distal determinants are socio-cultural factors which consists of socio-economic and demographic factors that affect fertility indirectly through affecting the bio- behavioral factors (Dube, 2013 citing Yohannes et al, 2004 and Samson et al, 2009). A proper understanding of these factors is of paramount importance in tackling the problem of uncontrolled fertility, which commands enormous positive and negative consequences.

Gafar eta al (2009) notes some consequences that come with the increase in fertility: an improvement in the status and wealth of the individuals or families, and an increase to social security at old age. The more the younger generation, the more the community is assured of sufficient manpower to provide defense for the community and more working hands in farms and vocational activities. On the contrary, the increase has led to increase in poverty, deterioration of social and physical infrastructures due to pressure on the use of the facilities, rising unemployment especially among youths, resulting to social unrest, rise in the rates, of crime and cost of living, malnutrition, ill health, environmental degradation, etc.

Onoja and Osayomore (2012) notes that less developed countries like Nigeria could grow economically if population growth is held in check (for poor human capacity building). For instance, uncontrolled fertility has been reported to have adversely influenced the socio-economic, demographic and environmental development of countries like, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Apart from that, studies conducted in Nigeria and some other less developed countries have shown that unemployment rate is closely related to high rate of fertility and its long run consequence-population explosion. Fertility is the most important component of population dynamics and plays a major role in changing the size and structure of the population of a given area over time (Dube, 2013 citing Yohannes et al, 2004).

Ordinarily, the determinants of fertility are economic and social, but in African, culture plays a very important role. In Population Council (1987)-the explanation to high and stable fertility rate in Sub-Saharan Africa lies largely in a religious belief system and an accompanying social structure that have accorded both spiritual and economic rewards to high marital fertility. Thus persecution arises where a marriage fails to produce a child or the preferred male child. Friedlin Hunter and Whitten (1977) states that a man who is rich in land but has no children is an object of pity, the man’s wife is considered even more unfortunate. Living up to the expectation has implications on population. The increasing number of children, for example strain the institutions providing services, such as education and health. Their health, as well as, their education, is poor, and lacking in basic skills. With decreased mortality and insignificant international migration (Juha, 1992) the stagnating economies are unable to employ most of the new entrants into the labor force. This rationality changes in time and space as the social and economic conditions vary between different geographical places and historical situations.

Other negative effects of population growth include poverty associated with low income per capita, famine, urban congestion and disease, since rapid population growth complicates the task of providing and maintaining the infrastructure, education and health care needed in modern economies (Barro, 1991; Mankiw, Romer and Weil, 1992). Another school of thought opined that population growth is a neutral factor in economic growth and is determined outside standard growth models (Felmingham 2004). Cross national evidence on the relationship between population growth and economic growth is inconsistent because the underlying parameters and assumptions vary across countries. Consequently it draws the conclusion that solution to over population of countries deals in specifics. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to expose the determinants of population growth in Nigeria as caused by uncontrolled fertility, and to ascertain the relationship between the population growth offshoot and economic growth of the country.

This study is an attempt by the researcher to contribute to existing literature on the impact of uncontrolled birth rate and overpopulation on Nigerian economic development by identifying factors that influence fertility rate and population growth in the country. Thus, the researcher makes its research concrete through sculpture using wood as it medium.

Background to the Study

Population control is an age long phenomenon and it started from ancient times. In ancient Greece, Plato (427-347BCE) and Aristotle (348-322 BCE) discussed the best population size for Greek City states, such as Sparta and Athens, and concluded that cities should be small enough for efficient administration and direct citizen participation in public affairs. Aristotle

advanced that a large increase in population would bring poverty on the citizenry and further lead to sedition and evil.

In recent times, many countries of the world example, India, China, Singapore, Iran, and Uzbekistan etc have applied different types of population control measures to prune down their population.

In china several control measure were adopted. Vigorous propaganda supports were given to the Ministry of Public Health’s mass birth control efforts. These efforts, however, had little impact on fertility. After the interval of the Great Leap Forward, Chinese leaders again saw rapid population growth as an obstacle to development, and their interest in birth control revived. In the early 1960s, propaganda, somewhat more muted than during the first campaign, emphasized the virtues of late marriage. Birth control offices were set up in the central government and some provincial level governments in 1964. The second campaign was particularly successful in the cities, where the birth rate was cut in half during the 1963-66 periods. The chaos of the Cultural Revolution brought the program to a halt, however in 1972 and 1973 the party mobilized its resources for a nationwide birth control campaign administered by a group in the State Council. Committees to oversee birth control activities were established at all administrative levels and in various collective enterprises. This extensive and seemingly effective network covered both the rural and the urban population. In urban areas public security headquarters included population control sections. In rural areas the country’s “barefoot doctors” distributed information and contraceptives to people’s common members. By 1973 Mao Zedong was personally identified with the family planning movement, signifying a greater leadership commitment to controlled population growth than ever before. Yet until several years after Mao’s death in 1976, the leadership was reluctant to put forth directly the rationale that population control was necessary for economic growth and improved living standards.

The measure that influenced China’s population greatly was the one child policy. In 1979 china’s government advocated a one child limit for both rural and urban areas and generally set a maximum of two children in special circumstances. The overall goal of the one-child policy was to keep the total population within 1.2 billion through the year 2000, on the premise that the Four Modernizations program would be of little value if population growth was not brought under control. The policy was a highly ambitious population  control program. It employed a combination of propaganda, social pressure, and in some cases coercion and linked reproduction with economic cost or benefit. Under the one-child program, a sophisticated system rewarded those who observed the policy and penalized those who did not. Couples with only one child were given a “one-child certificate” entitling them to such benefits as cash bonuses, longer maternity leave, better child care, and preferential housing assignments. In return, they were required to pledge that they would not have more children. In the countryside, there was great pressure to adhere to the one- child limit. Because the rural population accounted for approximately 60 percent of the total, the effectiveness of the one-child policy in rural areas was considered the key to the success or failure of the program as a whole.

In Nigeria, the population growth is growing more drastically without a commensurate growth of the economy over same periods. This paper therefore, takes into account the effects of uncontrolled fertility on population growth and the overall impact of population growth on economic growth in Nigeria. Expectedly, population growth induces technological advancements and innovations. This is because population growth encourages competition in business activities and, as the country’s population grows, the size of its potential market expands as well. The expansion of the market, in its turn, encourages entrepreneurs to set up new businesses (Simon 1992). A large population growth on the other side is not only associated with food problem but also imposes constraints on the development, savings, foreign exchange and human resources. Meason (1988) like, Coale and Hoover (1958) analyzed that high youth dependence burdens limits a country’s ability to generate sufficient saving, and concludes that reduction in savings and lack of sustainable development continue to be a cost of rapid population growth.

The increase in the rate of fertility in less developed countries as found in the sub Sahara, is worrisome that all measures including, modern contraceptive devices suggested or put in place at national, community and household levels seem not to have had much impact. Several reasons are deduced from mainly: the proportion of women in sexual unions which in turn is affected by other demographic factors as the age at first marriage, the pervasiveness of marriage and other unions, rates of divorce, separation and remarriage and mortality levels; (ii) the percentage of women using contraceptives; modern or traditional methods and practices like, abstinence, and exclusive breastfeeding.

It is estimated that, on average, African women have 5.6 live births during their reproductive period, and the average number of live births per Ethiopian woman is currently 5.4. This average varies across rural and urban areas of the country. For instance, the fertility rate in Nigeria is approximately 5.5 children per woman. This makes better sense when compare to the current statistic.

According to United Nations Publication (2010), Nigeria’s population is 167 million people and it has the sixth highest population in the world. It is estimated that in twenty-five years it will rise to 300 million. This is the current size of USA in a land area only double the size of California (United Nations, 2015).

It is believed that by 2050, Nigeria’s population would have surpassed that of the U.S. and could, exceed 400 million. By 2100, it will exceeded one billion and could potentially surpass China; all living in a country about the size of Texas.

This alarming rate of Nigerians population explosion is said to be heading for chaos and if nothing is done to address the situation. Overpopulation has an adverse effect on the economy of any nation especially developing countries, and on the social, economic and psychological life of its citizens. The population question in Nigeria according to Ottong, Ering and Akpan (2012) has been of some concern to demographers, development planners, and even government agents. Adewole (2012) is of the view that population growth affects economic development in two ways: by promoting economic development, and this occurs in developed economies like USA, Great Britain, Germany etc, and by retarding economic development and this occurs in developing countries like Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, etc

The intension of the researcher is not just to outline the effect of uncontrolled birthrate in Nigeria, but to echo the need for proper family planning, sex education, directing the attention of all Nigerians towards nation building.

Statement of Problem

The effect of uncontrolled birthrate is evident in the standard of life Nigerians live on a daily basis and on the nation’s economy at large. Poor health care, premature birth, hunger, poverty, maternal mortality, underdevelopment are all problems emanating from uncontrolled birthrate.

Thus study is therefore aimed at creating more awareness about the rate of uncontrolled birthrate within the country.

Objective of study

The main aim of this research work is to identify the reason why Nigerians give birth in an uncontrolled manner. To be specific, the researcher sought to;

Determine whether age influences uncontrolled birthrate. Ascertain if literacy level contributes to uncontrolled birthrate. Determine how culture influences uncontrolled birthrate.

Ascertain government role in population control.

Determine if tribes contribute to the level of uncontrolled birthrate within the country.

Examine other factors that can contribute to uncontrolled birthrate.

Significance of Study

Birthrate control is something that should not be taking lightly under any circumstances. While the argument about population and the strain it has on society are all very relevant (and often heard) though, it is more on the effect it has on an individual and a couple- not to mention the child that makes it so important.

Having children in itself is not a bad thing, however this is only the case if one is financially and emotionally stale to support the child.

This research is significant in that it highlight the effects of uncontrolled birthrate which are seen through; poverty, hunger, sickness, maternal mortality, illiteracy, untimely death etc. within the country.

It is also a contribution to existing literature on the subject matter, serving as a source of reference.

Scope of Study

The scope of this study affects the individual, the couple, the child or children and the society at large.

Limitation of study

A major challenge encountered during the course of this research was getting the medium (wood). Deciding the type of wood to carve, cutting, and transporting it to site where some of the challenge.

Meeting up to time for the assessment/ submission of this project was another challenge. The date for the assessment came too soon; in other to meet up to time I needed to work 24 hours on the clock.

Just as we know there is no great project without financial commitment


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