Population growth rate a concern

Editorial

THE current growth rate in Papua New Guinea is a concern.
Records at the PNG National Statistical Office show the population of PNG at 7,275,324 by 2011.
PNG’s population of nearly eight million people is the largest in the Pacific Islands, seven million more than next-in-line Fiji, with a population of just a little over 800,000.
PNG’s population has increased by 40 per cent with an average annual growth rate 3.1 per cent since the last census in 2000.
It is growing at an alarming rate and indications are clear that the government is struggling to cope with that.
Some say the generation is witnessing the greatest demographic transition.
There is mounting concern over rising unemployment and depleting per capita income
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill raised concerns on the fast population growth – having more than one million children every four years is unsustainable for any nation, especially a nation like ours where we have huge challenges: Infrastructure needs, schools, hospitals, education, roads and bridges that are needed right across the country.
And the Government might not be able to provide all that if the population continues to increase.
Professor Glen Liddell Mola, in his letter today, making reference to creating jobs through investments, points out an interesting topic and that is what we are discussing here – population growth.
The PNG population is currently increasing by 3.1 per cent per annum; the fertility rate is still more than 4 per cent (i.e. women are on average having more than four children each).
This has the effect of doubling our population in every generation (25-27 years), and means that the age structure of our population is such that more than half the population is less than 18 years old.
Young people should be discouraged from having children.
And there is no better way to put it then educating our children to delay having children, and of course, sometimes we have to encourage our young people to delay getting married.
And it’s becoming a common to see couples getting married early, having not secured decent employment, they have not finished their university or tertiary education, they are not skilled, they do not have an income level to look after the child that they bring into this world.
The burden most times fall back on the parents.
The general trend worldwide is that as more women get an education and enter the workforce, they marry and start having kids later in life.
An interesting analysis of US census data from 2000 shows women who waited to have children had significantly higher salaries than women of the same age, with the same level of education, who had children earlier.
That, however, should not be used as an apple-to-apple comparison against PNG.
One can only conclude that the analysis of US census data turned to be that way is because of education.
Not just any education but quality education from the urban to rural schools.
Quality education includes outcomes that encompass knowledge, skills and attitudes, and are linked to national goals for education and positive participation in society.
Unless the young population are educated to a standard to understand the advantages and disadvantages of having children very early in life, the population of PNG will continue to increase as an alarming rate.

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