How has increasing population growth affected economic development in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Population growth in the Turks and Caicos Islands has been on the rise. The country is projected to have a double population in 2027 as compared to its population in the last census in 2012. As of now it is on the trend with a current population of 42, 953. Population growth has effects on the economy of nations. In Turks and Caicos the population growth has a more negative impact than the positive impact because the country is still developing. This paper will discuss negative impacts such as pressure on available resources, unemployment, poverty, the constraint on agricultural production, environmental degradation, and the growth of crime. All the impacts are directly related to the growth of the population propelled by the influx of immigrants into the Turks and Caicos Islands. The paper will also discuss the positive impact the growth has had on the islands such as creating readily available resources of labor in the economy and also boosting the consumption and growth of local businesses.
The Turks and Caicos territory are made up of an archipelago, having 7 large inhabited islands and 33 uninhabited islands and cays. The landmass of the territory is approximately 417 km sq and is located to the south of the Bahamas. It is 144 km north of Haiti. The national capital is Cockburn Town that is located on the Grand Turk. It is the seat of the Turks and Caicos government. Turks and Caicos Islands are known I history for the production of slat which was a major commodity in the early century. On the decline of the salt industry in the 1960s, the territory ventured on tourism which brings in much of its revenue (United Nations, 2016). The economy of the Turks and Caicos Islands has improved over the years and so has its population growth. Though not as populated as most territories in the world, the territory has an economic system that controls economic activities and growth through its government.

The census in 2012 showed an increase in the population of the Islands from little over 19, 886 in 2001 to 31,458n in 2012. The population has had an upward trend as was predicted by the United Nations. As of 2019, Turks and Caicos had a population of 42, 953. Migration into the territory accounts for the greatest population growth with Haitians being the dominant immigrants into the country. Around 68 percent of the population growth is attributed to immigration while the remaining 32 percent is attributed to natural changes such as natural births and fewer deaths (Statistics Department (Turks and Caicos), 2020). Tourism has been the main driver of the ever-increasing population. In the 1980s, the Turks and Caicos Islands had a little over 7, 413 inhabitants. Citizens of the islands (Belongers) constitute a small portion of the population. As of 2012, the citizens accounted for 37 percent of the total population and it is projected that by 2027, the ‘Belongers’ could represent less than a quarter of the population.
Impact of Population Growth on the Economy
Pressure on Available Resources
The Turks and Caicos Islands have scarce resources that can only support a small population. The growth of the population over the years has led to a strain on the available resources such as clean drinking fresh water. The annual precipitation in Turks and Caicos is too low to support the population’s need for water. Reverse osmosis is used as a major way of producing most of the freshwater that is used in the territory.  Domestic wastewater is collected in septic tanks and the 75 available water treatment plants serve hotels or the hospitality industry in the country. The lack of natural resources pulls back the economy of the country. Such resources run developments such as industries and without enough resources such as water; such industries are on the verge of collapse (Baker et al., 2015).
The Turks and Caicos Islands face the economic problem of unemployment due to the increased growth of the territories population. The large number of persons coming into the job market makes it harder for individuals to get employment on the islands. The population of Turks and Caicos is projected to increase further,. It poses an unemployment problem to the economy especially because most employment opportunities in the country are seasonal (tourism industry).
Poverty and Poor Savings
The increase of population also means that the islands experience less income per capita and thus households have less income to spend on savings or economic development. The rates of dependency increase with the rates of population increase. The rate of poverty increases and many people live below the poverty level. Due to population pressure, the wages on the island are at times lower than US $ 5.00 per day. Empirical studies show that the savings in an economy are dependent on households. In developing countries such as the Turks and Caicos Islands, high population growth especially in households brings about more mouths to feed and less income to save (Health in Americas, 2019).
Constraints on Agricultural production
The arable land in the territory is very little and thus increased population growth puts a strain on the same. The Turks and Caicos Islands produce agricultural products such as beans, corn, cassava, citrus, fruits, and fish. Huge population growth raises the need to feed more people. With low agricultural production it is hard to satisfy the food needs of the population and it leads to complications such as hunger and malnutrition. Food security in the islands is also threatened by the increasing population.
Environmental Degradation
Large population growth could lead to environmental degradation in a country especially due to human activities such as agriculture and the use of available environmental resources. Large numbers of people in limited space cause issues such as the extinction of vegetation cover and ecological issues such as erosion. In Turks and Caicos, overexploitation of forest resources by the growing population could lead to deforestation and desertification. As the population grows, there is a need for more landmass to settle. To create settlement areas, people cut down trees and clear natural vegetation.
Societal Problems such as Crime
Population growth especially due to immigration could have a huge negative impact on the host country. As seen earlier the Turks and Caicos Islands’ population is made mostly of immigrants. When the number of people is large and there are not enough jobs for everybody, it leads to the growth of crime in the country. The jobless youth get involved in gang activities which are very common in the Caribbean Islands thus creating insecurity within such territories. Other social problems caused by population growth include societal immorality such as prostitution which is driven by a mix and influence of different cultures migrating to a place (Peterson, 2017). Most immigrants move to Turk’s and Caicos from Haiti and other Caribbean islands with the hope to get employment. When they lack employment in their new country of domicile, they are high probabilities that they will get involved in crime. Insecurity and criminal activities in a country reduce the rate of economic growth and development and businesses find it hard to operate in such environments.
Poor Living Standards
In developing nations without enough resources to cater for a rapidly growing population, there is a high chance that people will lack employment and thus have no disposable income to use on improving their standards of living. Most individuals in such economies work from hand to mouth is at all they get employment. The booming population leads to the growth of slums and uncontrolled settlements within the nation. The costs and prices of living increase as the population increases making the living standards low.
Positive Impacts of Population Growth
Despite the negative impacts that the population might have on the economy of Turks and Caicos Islands, it also has various positive impacts. The first positive impact the population growth has on the country is creating readily available manpower. Human resource is the most essential component of economic growth. The availability of people to work in the industries and factories on the islands boosts the economy. The Turks and Caicos Islands are known for tourism activities and attract over 1.5 million visitors. The visitors need accommodation, food, and entertainment. Tourism is a dominant economic giant on the islands. Immigration into the islands has led to available manpower that industries such as the tourism industry could make good use of (Headey & Hodge, 2009).
Population increase also means that the larger number of the population is composed of the younger people who form the more active labor force and they also increase the economic consumption within the territory. People living in area demand goods and services such as food and clothing and housing. The higher the number of people in an area the higher the demand they will have for local products. The population is thus associated with the development of local businesses and companies that supply such goods and services. Businesses earn money and in turn pay revenues and taxes that aid in economic development.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a group of islands located in the Caribbean. The territory has seen a rapid population growth since the last census in 2012 and still shows a rapid increase in the coming years. An increase in the population has an impact on the economy, both positive and negative impacts. Uncontrolled or rapid population growth in developing countries mostly affects then in a negative way. In the case of Turks and Caicos, the growth impacts the availability of natural resources thus causing a constraint on the same. Water is a natural resource that is scarce on the islands and population growth puts a strain on the same.  The growth also affects the standards of living in the islands, where there are more people and fewer resources to satisfy needs. Increased prices of goods and services due to population growth also affect the standards of living in the country. Increased poverty, unemployment, increased crime rates, and constraints on agricultural production are attributed to the population growth in Turks and Caicos. However, the growth has positive impacts such as increased manpower and increased consumption all of which help improve the economy of Turks and Caicos.
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Headey, D., & Hodge, A. (2009). The Effect of Population Growth on Economic Growth: A Meta-Regression Analysis of the Macroeconomic Literature. Population and Development Review,35(2), 221-248. Retrieved May 22, 2020, from
Health in Americas. (2019). Turks and Caicos Islands
Peterson, E. W. (2017). The role of population in economic growth. SAGE Open7(4), 215824401773609.
Statistics Department (Turks and Caicos). (2020). Statistics department. Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
United Nations. (2016, July 20). Turks and Caicos Islands has one of the fastest growing populations in the Caribbean. Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe.

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