There are three main questions to look into the significance of population study:
- How many people? It refers to the size of the population in a territory. While looking at the size, one also looks at the changes that are taking place in the size. How are these changes being effected by the trends in birth rate, death rate, and in migration?
- What kind of people? It refers to the composition of the population. The composition includes the characteristics of the population with respect to the age structure, sex differences, literacy rate and levels of literacy, religious distribution, languages people speak, occupational structure, housing structure, etc. In addition to the absolute figures showing the characteristics one also looks at the changes that might be taking place in the composition of the population as
well as its future implications.
- How are people distributed in the area? Distribution of population refers to the dispersion of people in a territory like the rural-urban distribution, size of cities, densities of population.
Analysis of the distribution takes into account the prospective changes as well as its future effects.
People belonging to different walks of life are interested in the existing as well as the foreseeable trends in the size, composition and distribution of population.
For example a planner is looking at the size of the population because he has to tie it with other social and economic resources of the country. He has to look into the correlations between the size of population and the economic development of the country. How are the changes in population size influencing the economic development and vice a versa? The composition of the population may be reflective of quality of the human resource, which can be utilized for the development of the economy. The changes in the composition may also suggest the kind of investments needed in the various components of the population. The distribution of population is of specific interest to the planner when he has to look into the varying needs of people at different places.
From the political perspective one has to look into the size of population while determining the boundaries of constituent areas as well as the number of members of the National Assembly, the Senate, and Provincial Assemblies. The information about the composition as well as the distribution of population helps in the determining the number of voters, the type of voters, and the location of voters.
A businessman shall be interested in the population because he uses the manpower in the production of goods and services and ultimately he shall be looking for the consumers of his goods and services. At various stage of his business operations he shall be interested in all the three components of population i.e., size, composition, and distribution. He produces goods and services keeping in view the characteristics of the ultimate consumers.
The study of population is of utmost significance to an educationist because he has to look into the educational needs of the population and arrange the facilities accordingly. What is the size of population, of which how many are of school going age, what is the their gender, what is the occupational background of their parents, where are they located - in rural/urban areas, are some of the pertinent questions about which he should have enough information prior to chalking out an action program. The study of population helps in providing the relevant information.
These examples suggest that in whatever field we work, the demographic information is of utmost value for planning, implementation, and success of any plan. The causes and consequences of changes in the size, composition, and distribution of population have a bearing on the socio economic development of the country.