Optimum population

Optimum population

The optimum population is the size of a population that is optimal. There are, however, various opinions on what "optimal" means in this usage, resulting in various end-targets for it,[1] but estimations usually take ecological sustainability and carrying capacity more or less into account. Also, optimum population can refer to a specific area, such as a region or country, but can also refer to the entire world or universe.


For humans

Regarding the human population, end-targets for an optimum population include ecological sustainability, economical output[2] and philosophical or ethical ends-in-themselves.

Some commentators disagree with the concept of "optimum population", believing that the human population will always, in the long-term, be able to adapt to the requirements of a larger population.[3] Others do not believe it is a helpful concept as any calculation will always be plagued with assumptions, as well as unverifiable predictions, even if it could theoretically exist.

To reach an optimum population, a country must be able to measure human welfare and environmental impacts, as well as having policies in place to influence the fertility rate and net migration. This implies agreement on welfare, environmental issues, accurate projections of immigration, age distribution and changes in lifespan among other factors. Reaching optimum population is an important objective in the wider project of creating a sustainable society.


Various end-targets are often balanced together in estimating the optimum human population, and different emphasis on different end-targets cause variability among estimates.

The optimal world population has been estimated by a team co-authored by Paul R. Ehrlich.[4] End-targets in this estimation included:

Based on this, the estimation of optimum population was to be roughly around 1.5 billion to 2 billion people.[4]

The UK based think tank Population Matters, (formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust), has calculated the optimum population of nearly 150 countries.[5]

See also



  1. ^ Daily, G. C.; Ehrlich, A. H.; Ehrlich, P. R. (1994). "Optimum human population size". Population and Environment 15: 469. doi:10.1007/BF02211719.  edit
  2. ^ On the Concept of Optimum Population P. S. Dasgupta The Review of Economic Studies Vol. 36, No. 3 (Jul., 1969), pp. 295-318 (article consists of 24 pages) Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2296429
  3. ^ Gilpin, Kenneth N. (1998-02-12). "Julian Simon, 65, Optimistic Economist, Dies". B11. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2008-05-18. http://www.webcitation.org/5XundBtyT. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  4. ^ a b Gretchen C. Daily, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Paul R. Ehrlich. Optimum Human Population Size. Population and Environment: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies Volume 15, Number 6, July 1994 01994 Human Sciences Press, Inc.
  5. ^ Optimum Population Trust: "Sustainable populations by country"

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