Many developing nations are experiencing rapid increases in population size, which gives researchers the reason to talk about the overpopulation and its impact on poverty. This, for instance, is the case in Haiti where a large population density has contributed to the depletion of the island’s scarce resources. In underdeveloped nations, the population increase that was experienced by the developed nations much earlier is happening at this time.

The population explosion

Since the end of the nineteenth century, the death rate began to decrease, a fact caused by advancement of health care and drop in the number of victims from natural calamities.

This population explosion was experienced by the advanced nations much earlier, while the underdeveloped ones are going through this process right now. Although this demographic boom is slowing down in less developed nations, “absolute increase of their populations is still large; such an increase tends to aggravate poverty or makes it difficult for per capita incomes to rise” (Labini, 2001, p.

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Thus, one can suppose that the rise in the economic development of these nations will not be speedy enough to offset explosive population growth. This view is similar to Ricardo’s theory that in itself drew upon Malthus’ population theory. Thus, Ricardo believed that “in agriculture the algebraic sum between diminishing returns and the productivity growth owing to technical progress was likely to be negative – in the sense that the increase of food production was likely to be slower than the increase of population” (Labini, 2001, p. 123).

Cultural Factors

Whether one believes in Ricardo’s hypothesis or not, it is certain that a larger population is more difficult to feed, and rapid population growth requires an adequately high level of development to keep the supply at least on the same level.

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Culture, to some degree, can also adversely impact development or contribute to it. The modern world is patterned to a great extent after the Western cultures of the nations that have a dominant role in this world. Those that do not fit into these patterns will not achieve success as their development would ideally proceed along different lines.

Native Americans in Canada

An example can be the case of Native Americans in Canada. Although living in a highly developed and prosperous nation, the Aboriginals fail to attain economic well-being. One reason that precludes their success is supposed to be their culture that envisages “collective ownership and sharing of resources, as opposed to the idea of individual private rights that characterizes Western culture” (Kendall, 2001, p. 43). Industrial technology best develops in conditions that favour private ownership; however, for Native Americans, it often means they have to abandon their cultural values.

Education and Training

A well-trained and educated workforce is the necessary precondition for successful economic development. The presence of a large educated population contributes to India’s current rise as an outsourcing destination, although it has so far failed to ensure overall prosperity in this nation. This problem, for instance, is addressed in Canadian programs targeting development of Aboriginal areas. The Indian entrepreneurship has to be supported with knowledgeable workforce that will attract capital flows to the areas.

Although the fact that Native Americans “missed the industrial revolution” has its upside, as there is no need for re-training, integration of these people into the complex web of the global economy is a serious challenge (Kendall, 2001, p. 43). Similar problems are experienced by many developing nations; only in their case, unlike the situation of Aboriginal populations in Canada, there is no strong nation to back them up in the efforts to increase their education. Conclusion The sources of underdevelopment are multiple.


More often than not, different factors of underdevelopment will be present in areas affected by this problem, intertwined and perpetuating each other. Thus, the political situation marked by elite domination perpetuates economic inequalities that in their turn cause inadequacy of educational facilities and ensuing lack of local qualified specialists. Lack of medical services can lead to absence of effective family planning measures that in their turn lead to overpopulation and then to poverty, as the national GDP struggles to catch up with economic growth.

Therefore, addressing a set of problems rather than separate issues is the cornerstone for building an effective development program.


  1. Amin, S. (1995, April). “Fifty Years Is Enough! ” Monthly Review, 46(11), 8+.
  2. Elliott, D. R. , & Harvey, J. T. (2000). Underdevelopment in Jamaica: An Institutionalist Perspective. Journal of Economic Issues, 34 (2), 393.
  3. Frank, A. G. (1989, June). The Development of Underdevelopment. Monthly Review, 41 (2), 37+.

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Demographic Factors. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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