Despite a steady decline in the population growth rate, there is a constant increase in the overall population of Pakistan. The current population growth rate of the country is 2% which is double the average world population growth rate. With such a high growth rate, the population of the country is projected to reach more than 340 million by 2050 surpassing many countries.
There is no single factor behind this high population growth rate. There are a number of social, educational, economic, and political factors that act as catalysts for this increase in population growth as discussed below:
Following are the social factors causing a rapid increase in the population of Pakistan.
A. Early marriages
In rural Pakistan, early marriage is a rule rather than an exception. When early marriages the span for reproductivity of a woman increases. A girl married at 13 will give birth to more children than a girl married at 30. The average number of children per woman in Pakistan is 3.4 is significantly higher than the global fertility rate which is estimated to be less than 2.5. Reduction in early marriages can significantly reduce the average number of children per woman in Pakistan thereby bring a decrease in the population growth rate.
B. The desire for the male child and Polygamy
In Pakistan, people prefer a male child. Son is considered to be the pride and caretaker of the parents in old age. In contrast, daughters are considered guests within the home who will be married and sent to her in-laws. Giving birth to girls will see no end until one or two male children are not given birth to. Some people will marry another woman if the former wife does not give birth to a child.
C. Religious beliefs
It’s a strong belief of Muslims that Almighty Allah has taken the responsibility of Rizk to his people on earth, so why have fewer children! Because of this preconceived and presupposed religious belief Family planning programs are met with strong opposition from religious forces. People keep on giving birth to as many children as they can.
2. Educational Factors
A major part of our society is illiterate. The illiterate families cannot understand the economic anguish they may go through with more children. They know little about the benefits of having a mall family. It has also been found that Family Planning and Population welfare have never found adequate space as part of the educational curriculum. Making reproductive health part of the curriculum at the SCC and HSSC level can help control the rapid increase in the population.
3. Economic Factors
In Pakistan, more children are considered economically beneficial as they work in factories and in fields and bring income to the family. As an important part of the industrial and agricultural labor force, children help meet the subsistence needs of the family. A farmer would say “I need more children to help in crop and animal rearing”. Similarly, you would often listen to a poor parent saying “his/her children work in the factory and earn money for the family”.
4. Political Factors
Political factors have also been responsible for the surge in the Population of Pakistan at the time of establishment and later in the aftermath of the Afghan War (1979-88) and the War on terror from 2000 onwards.
Although migration took place on both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border at the time of Partition the number of Muslim refugees coming to Pakistan outnumbered those leaving the country for India. Similarly, Pakistan saw a surge in its population when millions of Afghan refugees flooded to Pakistan during American supported war against USSR in Afghanistan and later War on terror. Millions of Afghan refugees are still living in Pakistan both legal and illegally.
Moreover, Pakistan has been observing frequent changes in governments that negatively impact the Population Welfare Programs i.e. family planning, child care, counseling of mothers, etc. launched by the previous governments. The new Government would stop taking the same program ahead thus becoming a hindrance rather than some help in population control.