All resources of the environment are usually organised by man for optimum use. The ability of man to make the best use of these resources depends on his level of education, technology and culture.


Factors which Determine the Size of Human Resources

Factors which can determine the size of human resources are:

  1. Birth rate or natality: High birth rate generally do lead to high population or human resources.
  2. Death rate or mortality: Low death rate leads to increase in human population while high death rate reduces it.
  3. Migration: While migration (movement out of a country) reduces population, immigration (movement into a country) increases human resources.
  4. Level of Fertility: High level of fertility of the population leads to increase in human population.
  5. Medical Facilities: Improved medical facilities in a country do lead to increase in human population.
  6. Education: The higher the level of education, the lesser the growth of human population. In other words, illiteracy leads to increase in human population, because of indiscriminate rate of child bearing.
  7. Technology: High level of technology do lead to reduction in human population and vice versa.
  8. Climate: Favourable climate of a country can lead to reduction in child bearing.
  9. Political stability: A very stable political activities do lead to increase in human population than when a country is in political crisis.


Population Classification or Distribution The population of a country could be classified or distributed into the following categories: Sex, Age, Geographical and Occupational, based on the data obtained from population census.

Sex Distribution: Sex distribution shows how many males and females are in a country in a particular period of time. This is very important, because it enables the government of the country to ascertain the sex ratio. When the ratio of females is more than the males, the government can project for a rapid population growth in the future. The population of females is a great determining factor of what the population of a country would be in future. Where the population of females is more than that of the males, the tendency is that the population of the country will grow rapidly. This rapid population growth as a result of many women in the country can be controlled by making a law that will make it an offence for anyone to marry more than one wife. But, one of the consequences of such law is that, there will be high rate of prostitution in such a country. Nature has made it impossible for any government to make the ratio of males equal to females even with the use of law.

Age Distribution: This refers to the breakdown of the population of a particular country into age groups. This age distribution which varies from country to country is derived from population census figures. However, the population of a country can be divided into the following age groups:

  • 0 – 5 years: This is the pre-school age or what we presently call pre-primary or nursery school age group.
  • 6-11 years: Primary School age group.
  • 12 – 16 years: Secondary or the post-primary school age group.
  • 17 – 21 years: Post-secondary or higher institution age group.
  • 22 – 55 years: Working population or labour force age group.
  • 56 and above: Old age group.


The Importance or Advantages of Age Distribution

  1. It enables the government of a country to know the number of people that are working.
  2. It reveals the number of tax payers.
  3. The government can project how much that could be realised from income tax.
  4. Through the number of people that are working, the production of goods can be determined.
  5. The manufacturers can envisage what the future consumption of their goods will be.
  6. It helps government to plan its budget based on the number of people in each age group.
  7. It enables the government to determine what the economy will be in future.
  8. It reveals the population of dependants and helps government to plan for them.


Economic Implication of Age Distribution

1) Where majority of the people fall in the pre-primary group

  • There will be increase in demand for articles like toys, baby food and others used by infants.
  • Increase in the production of toys and other commodities used by infants.
  • There will be more need for nursery schools.
  • There will be more need for nannies and housemaids.


2) Where the percentage of primary school children is high

  • There will be the need for more primary schools.
  • The need for free education at that level in order to eradicate illiteracy which may also be one of the possible consquences of rise in their number.
  • Increase in government expenditure to cater for them as part of dependants.
  • Increase in demand for commodities used by that age group.


3) Secondary or post-primary age: This age group falls among the dependants and unproductive group. If their number is too high, it is detrimental to the economy of such a country.


4) Post-secondary or higher institution age: Major bulk of these people will metamorphose into the working population. High population of this group will be good omen if it grows in pari passu with the resources and employment opportunities; otherwise, they will be turned out as unemployed graduates who may constitute themselves into undesirable elements.


5) The working population: If this population grows high, it is a good omen to the economy of a country because, this is the productive section of a country’s population.


6) The old age: This is another dependant and unproductive group. If their number is high, they will constitute themselves into burden to the government and the working population.


Economic implications or effects of increase in the population of dependants

The dependants are those that are not working or the unproductive groups that cannot fend for themselves but are catered for by the working population. Dependants include: infants, those in primary, secondary and higher institutions and the aged people. That is, the total population of a country, excluding the working population or labour force, will give you the population of dependants.

Economic implications of increase in their population more than the working population include the followings:

  1. High taxation: Those working will be made to pay high rate of tax to enable government realise enough money that will be used in catering for the dependants.
  2. Increase in government expenditure: Government of the country concerned will spend more in order to cater for the dependants whose number has increased.
  3. Increase in demand for goods: There will be increase in demand for goods and services and; if care is not taken, demand may exceed supply.
  4. Increase in prices: Prices of goods and services will rise if demand is higher than supply.
  5. High imports: More goods and services have to be imported in order to complement local production and thereby, meeting up with the increasing demand.
  6. Low saving: Both the government and workers may save nothing because, people may be living from hand to mouth as a result of having many mouths to feed.
  7. Low investment: Since nothing is saved, there may be no investment because people are mainly living from hand to mouth.
  8. Poor standard of living: This is as a result of the fact that there are many people to be fed by the small number of those working. Also, the few social amenities provided by the government will now be used by more than unexpected number of people.
  9. Decrease in exports: Nothing may be left for exports as majority of the goods and services produced locally will be consumed in the country.
  10. Deficit balance of payments: The country with increase in the population of dependants will suffer from deficit balance of payments. This is as a result of high imports and low exports.
  11. Low economic growth: This will be the cummulative effect of increase in dependants which will result in increase in government expenditures, low savings, low investments, etc.
  12. High ratio of dependency: This may be the first visible effect of increase in dependants and a big problem to the working population and government.


Occupational Distribution: Occupational distribution is the breaking down of the population of a country into activities engaged in by men and women to earn their living. This distribution is affected by many factors like the availability of natural resources, the level of technological development, the level of education, etc. Majority of the occupationally distributed population of West Africans fall into agriculture, mainly because West African countries have agrarian economy. Others fall into other occupations depending on their educational specialization, etc.

However, occupation as a whole can be classified into four major principal divisions namely, extractive, manufacturing and constructive, commercial and direct and indirect services.


Geographical Distribution: This refers to the break down of the population of a country into geographical areas. People of a country are scattered into different areas by geographical, historical, economic and social factors. The population of a country cannot be equitably distributed into geographical areas. In a country like Nigeria, the southern parts are densely populated than the northern parts that have low population density. This geographical distribution of the population affects the occupation of the people in the areas. As a result of the fact that southern parts of Nigeria have thick forest, the people are mainly farmers. The northerners on the other hand are mainly cattle rearers because their area falls in the arid zone and this area encourages sparse population. The areas also contain a greater percentage of grassland where the animals graze on.


Importance of Human Resources

  1. Labour supply: Labour is necessary for the economic growth and development of all nations.
  2. Control over other resources: Human beings, because of their intelligence can control other resources for maximum benefit.
  3. Defence: Large population does provide the required armed forces for defence purposes.
  4. Development: Development is only possible through the contribution of individuals who are healthy and educated.
  5. Power: Countries known to have large, educated population with scientists etc. are known to control world power more than others e.g. U.S.A.