NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 14, 2004

The Nigerian government claims its burgeoning population growth is the greatest obstacle to economic prosperity. However, empirical evidence points to barriers to entrepreneurship as the true culprit, says Thompson Ayodele, Coordinator of the Institute of Public Policy Analysis in Lagos, Nigeria.

Fearing that population growth will ultimately be too much for the economy to bear, Nigeria newly approved a law that forces the country to stem its current population growth rate of between 2.5 percent and 3.0 percent to not more than 2.0 percent by the year 2015. But this policy is based on a belief that is ill-conceived, says Ayodele:

  • Remarkable economic growth has been achieved over the past two centuries despite world population growing from 1 billion in the 19th century to almost 5 billion today.
  • In spite of the growing population, wages for all categories of workers have been rising globally.
  • Rather than be depleted, natural resources have become increasingly abundant, as indicated by their falling prices relative to salaries and wages over the past decades.

Though Nigeria has a community of skilled traders and talented people that can generate wealth, government policies have sought to constrain the entrepreneurial spirit through tariffs, bans on competition and outright oppression of small businesses, says Ayodele.

Only when a social and economic framework conducive to encouraging hard work and risk taking has been established will Nigeria overcome its economic troubles, says Ayodele.

Source: Thompson Ayodele, "Population and False Conceptions," Fraser Forum, July 2004.


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