Population high growth rate diminishes resources [Archives:2004/757/Community]

July 22 2004

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
Economic development is considered an important factor in improving living conditions and in developing resources for the future. There is a complex and inter-connected relationship between population growth and the economic development on one hand, and between economic development and population characteristics.
In Yemen, the problem of low-levels of natural resources and falling economic capabilities, are worsened by the population growth, which devours a large proportion of available resources.
Dr. Ahmed Abdullah Al-Asbahi, in a working paper explained that Yemen ranks 64th amongst 94 developing countries in the human poverty guide. 42% of the Yemeni population live beneath the poverty line, which means that almost one out of two citizens lives under the poverty line (which is an expenditure rate averaging one US dollar per day). Despite this situation, Gross National Product, dropped from US$8,953 million in 1990 to US$5,494 million in 1995, although it had been expected to increase to US$9,222 million. This change was not significant, as it is connected mainly to oil prices which constitute 30% of local GNP, with 4.6% from foreign assistants. It does however mean a drop in the average income per capita from the GNP.
There is an uneven distribution of income and consumption. The 1998 family budget survey indicates that the poorest 20% of the population consumed only 7.4% of national income, while the richest 20% of the population, consumed 41.2%. The 2003 United Nations Human Resources Report indicates that the investment flow in Yemen is recorded at -2.2%.
In the light of these conditions, the effect of a high population growth rate would very highly tax the already limited economic growth and further stretch the provision of primary services such electricity, water and sanitation, education and health.
The flagrant unemployment rate, which currently constitutes about 11.5% of the labor force, represents another face of the relationship between population growth and economic growth. The size of the labor force will continue to change in accordance with the population growth that in Yemen, is heading towards a record level. Unemployment would consequently increase if development opportunities do not increase in line the population increase.