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1.1  Background to the Study

As the twenty –first century began, the world’s population was estimated to be almost 6.1 billion people. Projections by the United Nations placed the figure at more than 9.2 billon by the year 2050 before reaching a maximum of 11 billion by 2200. Over 90% of that population will inhabit the developing world (Todaro and Smith, 2006). Two thousand years ago population growth and production were positively correlated. More people meant greater productivity and security. The current modernization and technological advancement of today’s world is highly attributable to centuries of rapid population growth and economic expansion. Hundreds of years ago, when societies and economies initially began to flourish, success was dependent upon a productive agricultural sector. A growing population meant more workers and laborers who would increase overall output. With more productive labor, the economy inevitably expanded and society reaped the financial benefits (Tartiyus, Dauda and Peter, 2015). Centuries ago, population booms were positive indications of the potential for long term economic growth. High fertility rates during these times allowed for increased labourers and also helped overcome the correspondingly exorbitant death rates. The combined effects of “famine, disease, malnutrition, plague and war” resulted in death rates that were high and inconsistent. Given the lack of modern medicine that many countries faced until recently, death rates remained relatively elevated for several centuries. Thus, in order to have any net population growth and eventual economic development, fertility rates had to be elevated (Latimer and Kulkarni, 2008).

After the independence in 1960, a successful population census was carried out in Nigeria in 1964, which an estimated population of 55.6 million people was taken into account. Since then, it became obvious that Nigeria’s population was leading to a rapid population growth. In 1991, a population census was held and the country’s population increased to an approximated 88.5 million people. The analysis helped the National Development Planning to gain more insight and enable them to improve and develop more on their policies and planning (Evans, 2011). The UNDP reported in 2007 that the Nigerian population continuously increased at 3% per annum with birth rate of 40 per 1,000 and also a death rate of 15 per 1,000 (Gideon, 2016). It was also estimated that an educated Nigerian woman gives birth to a lesser number of 3 children compared to an average Nigerian woman who gives birth to 6 children in her lifetime. From analysis of the past census and reports, it is evident that the population has been rapidly growing at a high rate of 250% from 1964 to present. This makes it problematic to match the population growth rate and development of the country (Evans, 2011).

Nigeria at present has the highest population in Africa and the 10th in the world. It was reported that the Nigerian population is associated with three factors namely; fertility, migration and mortality. It was noticed that the population growth increases at 3% which implies a doubling time of 22years (Gideon, 2016). This also means that the country is growing at a geometric progression. The problem with this is the capacity of the country’s economy to also grow proportionately that it will cope and accommodate the increased population. The low mortality of 14 per 1,000 decreased infant mortality rate and higher life expectancy signifies a problem because it indicates a higher chance of survival (Evans, 2011).

Unemployment rate can either increase or decrease proportionately with respect to population growth or decline. Invariably, the increase in unemployment rate could be related to population growth especially in developing economies like Nigeria. Therefore, the need to checkmating unemployment rate to assuage its effects on Nigerian economy cannot be overemphasized. The Central Bank of Nigeria (cited in Orumie, 2016) defined unemployment rate as the percentage of persons among the labour force (15-65 years) excluding students and those medically unfit available for work but do not find work. Gbosi (2005) noted that the Nigeria’s rising rate of unemployment portends great concern not only to the policy-makers, but the society as well, and that the rate at which population grows influences economic growth and consequently the Gross Domestic Product. The rate of unemployment in Nigeria is unimaginably growing amidst alarming economic recession while population growth is on the increase. If not checked, this duo tyrant can pose devastating effects on the nation’s future economy. Therefore this study seeks to investigate the impact of population growth on unemployment in Nigeria.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

Rapid population growth in Nigeria is equally associated with unemployment with figures ranging from 17 percent per annum for the entire population to 60 percent for the youths because job opportunities are fewer than the number seeking for them, and stagnating economic performance because a large proportion of available resources is consumed instead of being invested to generate growth. In addition, rapid population growth poses continuous pressure on resource, particularly on agricultural land. For instance, due to high density of people in the Eastern states as much as 53 percent of the farming populations cultivate less than 0.4 hectares in a given year and in the more congested areas of those states most farmers cultivates only 0.2 hectares per year. Furthermore, with rising population growing at geometric proportion relative to job placement that is growing at arithmetic progression, it became obvious that the nation’s formal education is fuelling unemployment, crime and cycle of poverty as graduates could not be absorbed.

The problem of unemployment is a problem that has been evident in Nigeria. In Nigeria, streets are scattered with bike riders and hawkers with an average level of education who would have secured employment or exhibit their skills and resources if there are suitable environments and structures that encourage such. This situation has moved the attention of unemployed youths to cybercrime which is commonly known as 419 (Uddin and Uddin, 2013). Hence, the undertaking of this study seeks to investigate the impact of population growth on unemployment in Nigeria.

1.3    Aim and Objectives of the Study

The aim of the study is to investigate the impact of population growth on unemployment in Nigeria. The specific objectives are:

i. To examine the impact of population growth rate on unemployment in Nigeria.

ii. To investigate the causal relationship between population growth and economic development in Nigeria.

iii. To find out the current economic challenges for managing population growth in Nigeria.

1.4    Research Questions

This study will be guided be the following research questions:

i.  What is the impact of population growth rate on unemployment in Nigeria?

ii. What is the causal relationship between population growth and economic development in Nigeria?

iii. What are the current economic challenges for managing population growth in Nigeria?

1.5    Research Hypotheses

The researcher intends to test the following hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1:

Ho:  There is no significant relationship between population growth rate and unemployment in Nigeria.

HI:There is a significant relationship between population growth rate and unemployment in Nigeria.

Hypothesis 2:

Ho: There is no significant causal relationship between population growth and economic growth in Nigeria.

HI: There is a significant causal relationship between population growth and economic growth in Nigeria.


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