Features of the Population Problem in Yemen [Archives:2004/726/Local News]

April 5 2004

Ismail Al-Ghabiri
The population problem is a world problem. Governments of all countries of the world as well as the related international organizations exert considerable effort, particularly in third world countries.
The definition of the population problem is a disequilibrium between the state's resources and the needs of the population. In other words, it is a gap between economic and social development rates and population growth rates. Whenever the hiatus becomes bigger, the lower the living standard becomes. Consequently, the drop of the social status leads to more backwardness and lack of ability to keep up with development. The population problem is aggravated and becomes obvious when development rates can not keep up with higher growth rates of the population.
In order to realize the danger of the population problem in Yemen, we have to remember that the population of Yemen in 1950 was 4.3 million, while, according to population censuses, the population of Yemen reached 15.8 and 18.9 million in 1994 and 2001, respectively. It is expected to reach 22.2 million in 2006. The problem of the population in Yemen lays in the high growth rate, estimated at 3.5%, one of the highest growth rates in the world. This can be attributed to a high fertility rate during the past twenty years. The high birth rate is associated with high rate of early marriages and the keenness of families to have as many children as possible because of the spread of illiteracy in Yemen. The high growth rate can also be attributed to the gradual decline of the fatality rate as a direct result of the improvement of health services, clean drinking water and spread of awareness through the implementation of social and economic development projects.
The end result of the accelerated population growth is the shortening of the doubling periods of the population to become, in recent times, that the population doubles every twenty years. This implies an age distribution of a population where half of the population would be under the age of 15 years, increasing the burden of dependents to the economically active in the distribution of the national income.