Nigeria's population is a hot topic.

In fact, just the other day, I was involved in a heated discussion over the recent remarks from a certain British royal who claimed that high population growth in African countries has a negative impact on the natural environment.

The relationship between population growth and economic development has been a recurrent theme in economic analysis since Thomas Malthus proposed the same argument in a famous essay. According to Malthus, population growth depresses living standards in the long run. If you are a Marvel fan, you probably recognise this as Thanos’ justification for collecting the infinity stones and wiping out half of the world’s population.


Some takeaways 

  • Having a large population is often viewed as a negative issue. Still, the experiences of countries like China and Japan, which risk having few people to replace their current workforce when they retire, shows us that context matters.

  • Instead, the population's quality determines if the large population is a disadvantage. Nigeria currently has about 95 million youth, many of whom are not productive due to improper policies. 

  • Matching people with the right skills while developing the proper physical human capital development is key to creating a middle class needed to induce growth in the economy. 


To see why a comic book villain, a 17th-century economist and a British monarch agree, consider the following scenario. Given that we have a fixed quantity of land, the more people we add (increase population growth), the fewer