Current Event Writing: Population Explosion in Lesotho

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Wesleyan University
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Lindens (2017) article, Remember the Population Bomb? Its Still Ticking, highlights the problem of population explosion in Lesotho due to limited use of contraceptives among women, where they gave birth to at least six children in the 1970s. The article reveals that the increased population, which is exacerbated by drought and soil erosion, has influenced the countrys development negatively, with stagnated or negligible growth. In the 1970s, however, women were provided with contraceptives but only a small percentage used them, not until the late 1990s where 60% had access to contraceptives. Men, having travelled to South Africa to work in mine sites, refused to have their spouses take contraceptives, fearing that their wives would cheat on them, which further contributed to Lesothos population bomb. Therefore, to minimize the problem, the government has recognized the need of family planning, but it relies mostly on help from the United Nation Populations Fund, an organization that endorses family planning. The Trump administration, instead of helping, has cut its contribution to the organization, choosing to focus on building a wall and not acknowledging the effect of climate change. In effect, as Linden (2017) points out, this does not better the situation, and it will not prevent immigration. Linden (2007) concludes that a wall will not prevent the problem and advocates for more support of family planning, especially in the developing nations.

Ideas Tying to the Article

As such, from Lindens (2017) article, it can be derived that population explosion is one of the horrors of development. Instead of using funds for development, just like Lesotho, a country will use resources to feed its population. Families cannot save money to start businesses, which leads to little or no development because of less investment in human capital per individual (Malthus, 2017). Even though in some instances an increased population growth may lead to increased overall output of a nation, it is associated with less output (income) when it spirals down to a single person. Besides, it increases the problem of scarcity of resources because the demand for such resources will be high to feed the increased population (Coale & Hoover, 2015). To prevent such problems of inadequate development, it is paramount that developing countries understand population economics, where as the population of a country increases, so does its inability to take care of the basic needs of the population. In consequence, it will rely on developed nations for help, which in most instances is not enough, just like the case of Lesotho.

The assertion that large populations lead to poor economic outcomes was first provided by Thomas Malthus, pointing out that population growth results in low incomes because the overall production is fixed and no efforts can increase it. (Malthus, 2017) For this reason, as Linden (2017) articulates, Lesothos population bomb resulted in a population trap, which is some aspect is true, but in other cases it might not apply especially because the theory does not put social and technological growth into consideration. According to Coale and Hoover (2015), even though there is no problem with large families, the resources used to bring up huge families could instead be used in providing education or to save money for new businesses. In effect, large families will end up straining these resources, leading to poverty. For this reason, it can be deduced that Lesothos problem of poor economic development can be attributed to the population bomb it experienced in the last half of the 20th Century. As such, there is need to control population to avoid straining resources that would otherwise be used for fueling economic development.


Coale, A.J. & Hoover, E.M. (2015). Population growth and economic development. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Lindel, E. (2017). Remember the population bomb? Its still ticking. New York Times. Retrieved 18 July 2017, from

Malthus, T.R. (2017). An essay on the principle of population. New York, N.Y.: WW Norton & Company

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