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1.1 Background of the Study

Economic growth is a fundamental macroeconomic policy objective which countries all over the world (i.e developed and developing) continue to strive to achieve. Although there are other important macroeconomic policy objectives such as full employment, price stability and balance of payment equilibrium, economic growth can solely be facilitated by proper management or attainability of equilibrium of all these other macroeconomic policy objectives. Even in the developed countries where significant level of economic growth has been attained, efforts are still being put in place not just to sustain the level of growth but also to improve on the periodic rate of growth. Note that pressure is on the developing nations (Nigeria inclusive) to accelerate the level of economic growth as well as the rate of growth that are still relatively very low.

The expected thirst for continuous, substantial and sustainable level of economic growth and development nursed by countries all over the world, especially by the developing countries, has become a gigantic cross which governments and policymakers have to bear. Therefore, they strive to ensure that all available macroeconomic apparatuses are properly directed or geared to propel all relevant macroeconomic variables in the right direction in order to achieve this desirable objective.

The relationship between population and economic growth has been an important issue of concern in economics and most especially among scholars from time immemorial. Going a bit down the memory lane, Thomas R. Malthus (1766-1834) of the famous classical school of thought ranked among the very first set of scholars to observe and comment on the interaction between population and economic growth in the late 1790s. He explained in his paper titled “an essay on the principle of population” published in 1798 that the rapidly growing rate of population posed a great and significant threat to the entire existence or survival of mankind. He explained further that population if unattended, will outgrow the actual available means of subsistence in no distance time.

Though the gloomy conclusions of Malthus theory of population have not turned out to be entirely true particularly due to several unrealistic assumptions upon which the theory was


based. The essentials of the theory cannot be completely disregarded because the theory at least became a starting point for other famous economists including Marshal, Pigou and Keynes who later wrote on population. In modern time, population as well as its dynamics have remained vital variables that can influence economic growth as observed by scholars such as Akanwa, Anyanwu & Ossai-Onah (2013); Akintunde, Olomola & Oladeji (2013); Kotani & Kotani (2012); Nwakeze & Omoju (2011); among numerous others.

The need to move the economy of modern day Nigeria forward facilitated the dire need to have a comprehensive data of her total human populace since almost every government regarded population data as a prerequisite for feasible economic and development planning. Thus, numerous efforts had been made to conduct at one point or another population census in Nigeria. In fact, the history of population census predates Nigeria because the first population census was conducted in Lagos Island and some parts of the mainland in 1866 (before Nigeria was conceived). According to Osagiede (2014) the historical trend of population census in Nigeria can be discussed under the population guesstimation period (1911-1941) and the post population guesstimation period (1950 till date). The population guesstimation period was characterised by derivation of population figures by sampling or inferential deductions from records. Using of guesstimation and sampling during this period was majorly due to logistic, economic, social and other related or associated challenges of covering the entire nation. During this era, three different censuses were conducted namely: the 1911 census in which a total of about 16.06 million was recorded; followed by that of 1921 which revealed about 13% rise in population to around 18.72 million while it further rose to about 19.9 million despite exclusion of provinces in the Eastern region due to social restiveness that ensued from the misconception of the true motive behind the exercise in 1931 (Aluko, 1965; Okolo, 1999).

With the Second World War disrupting the decennial sequence of population census in a geographical area known as Nigeria today (the exercise fail to hold in 1941 due to the Second World War), the post population guesstimation period began. The 1950-53 population census was the first in this era and a total of about 30.42 million was recorded. This was followed by the 1962 population census which result was cancelled after an elongated and heated dispute/disagreement resulting from the perceived inflation of figures from some quarters of the country. This cancellation of 1962 result led to the conduct of another population census in 1963 in which a total population of 55.6 million was announced. Although this result was


contested in court, the Supreme Court held that it lacked the power to cancel the result. Note that the cancellation of the 1973 population census conducted by National Census Board (NCB) anointed by the Yakubu Gowon military regime coupled with political instability dampened the possibility of conducting any other census until 1991; the official result of the 1991 census showed that total population of about 89 million was recorded. Although the population of Nigeria is slightly above 178 million currently (World Bank, 2015), the last population census conducted in Nigeria was that of 2006 in which the outcome of the nationwide head-count was about 140 million. It is also vital to note that the result of the (2006) exercise was greeted with criticisms despite the use of modern equipments and methods in the process (Eniayejuni & Agoyi, 2011; Mimiko, 2006; Okafor & Adeleke, 2007).

Population dynamics or change involves studying both the short-term and long-term changes in size and age composition of population including the biological and environmental processes influencing those changes. It has to do with the manner in which factors such as fertility, mortality and migration affect population; it also looks at ageing population and population decline. Kotani and Kotani (2012); Odusina (2011) and Tasim (2010) in their studies observed that population dynamics or change is majorly influenced by the three (3) afore-mentioned demographic variables (i.e. fertility, mortality and net-migration). Therefore, these same variables will be used to capture population dynamics in this study.

Rate of fertility in Nigeria (like most developing countries) is relatively high. The World Bank (2014) data showed that rate of fertility in Nigeria has remained at an average of 6 (births per woman) since 1960 (i.e. 6.35 in 1960; 6.47 in 1970; 6.78 in 1980; 6.49 in 1990; 6.10 in 2000 and 6.02 in 2010). The fact that rate of fertility has rarely fallen in the last few decades may be explained by the high level of early marriage in Nigeria coupled with high rate of unemployment (Adebimpe, Bamidele & Abodurin, 2011). Odu, Jadunola and Parakoyi (2005) explained that fertility in Nigeria is unequal across geo-political zones due to dissimilarity in culture and religious affiliations. Total rate of mortality (neonatal, infant, under-5 and adult) on the average has been declining over the years. This decline may not be unconnected to the improving health/medical services globally. Rate of mortality is seen by researchers (such as Ayenigbara & Olorunmaye, 2012; Onanuga & Onanuga, 2014) as a vital variable capable of influencing level of productivity/output and economic growth. Also, the growing rate of emigrants (outflow or outward movement from Nigeria) is indeed very


disturbing. Strongly supporting this is the data from the World Bank (2014) database that revealed that emigration is growing rapidly compared to immigration thus net-migration (the difference between immigration and emigration) has maintained a negative sign since 1992 (i.e. net-migration that was -95,769 in 1992 rose to -170,000 in 2002 and to -300,000 in 2012).

Population dynamics has attracted less attention despite the fact that population size, location, structure, etc are believed to help shape and determine the scale and scope of development as well as influencing the attainment of sustainable economic growth and development including poverty eradication in Nigeria. Although, population dynamics or change is expected to be part of economic development plans and policies, it should be addressed in such a manner that respect and protect human rights. Since population change is expected to have a major impact on development agenda and the achievement of socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable economic development, it must be part of the solution alongside other important sustainable development strategies.

Given the prevailing view that population policies have the potentials to lessen or cushion the effects of the pressure of population growth on economic growth and development, population policy has thus become an integral part of the overall economic planning. Similarly, the need to improve the welfare of people in the society now and in the future means population as well as its growth rate have to be integrated and prioritised in the development plans of most third world countries (Akintunde et al., 2013).

Although population census has a long history in Nigeria (i.e. since 1866), the first cautious attempt made to influence population variables in Nigeria was contained in the “Nigeria policy on population for unity, progress and self-reliance” drafted in 1988 (under the Babangida-led military junta), the general objective of the population policy was to curtail the rapidly growing population in order to improve the overall standard of living of the Nigerian populace. Furtherance to the first population policy was the second (Nigeria policy on population for sustainable development) which was introduced in 2003 by the Obasanjo’s administration.

The objectives of this second population policy as contained in the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS, 2004) include achievement of sustainable economic growth, poverty alleviation/eradication, protection and preservation of environment, provision of quality


social services, achieving equilibrium between population growth and available resources as well as attainment of social and economic development of the country in general. Whether the objectives of these policies were achieved or not became a contentious issue among scholars and economic analysts. Some scholars (Adegbola, 2008; Enang & Ushie, 2012) were of the opinion that the major objectives of the policies were met whereas others (such as Ebigbola, 1998 and Odusina, 2011) relying on facts and figures pertaining to the population growth rate (specifically making reference to the growing rate of population from 2.82% in 1991 to about 3.02% in 2006) concluded that the objectives of the policies were far from being achieved.

Some of the factors believed to have led to the failure of these population policies as contained in the studies of Ebigbola (1998) and Odusina (2011) include: religious beliefs, traditional or cultural beliefs and the voluntary nature of the policies. The researchers in their different and independent studies explained that some of the recommendations of the population policies contradict the teachings and beliefs of some religions thus making compliance almost impossible. Aside this religious sentiment, the cultural attachment of great importance to having a male child in different regions of the country made it impossible to influence the decision of households/families as to number of children they should have. The researchers explained further that another impediment to the success of these population policies was the voluntary nature of the policy, the voluntary nature of these policies means that Nigerians are not compelled to comply since there is absence of legal backing, sanction or incentive for compliance. Lastly, unstable nature of Nigeria’s politics gave neither room for continuity of certain policies nor guaranteed equal zeal towards implementation of such strategic and important policies on the part of the most successive government they conclude.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Aside the fact that Nigeria’s economy is currently faced by many other socio-economic challenges that are hindering the attainment of its various macroeconomic objectives (including economic growth), the high rate of population coupled with the alarming rate with which it is growing could be a big thorn on the flesh of both Nigerian government and policymakers. The yearly rate of growth of population in Nigeria is extremely on the high side therefore the country still retains its rank as the highest in Africa (in term of population size). Nigeria is also ranked among the highest in the world with an annual rate of population

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