The population of England and Wales has hit a historic high of 59,597,300, an 6.3% increase on the 2011 figure of 56,075,912 – an extra 3.5 million people. It means the wider UK population is almost 67 million, once census results published last month for Northern Ireland, showing a population of 1.9 million, and the latest estimate for Scotland, of 5.47 million, are added in.
The total is on course to break the 70 million mark in the next five years, but population growth has decreased slightly over the last decade. Under-15s make up a declining proportion of the population, and at 10.4 million have been overtaken in numbers by the over-65s in the last decade.
With 434 residents per square kilometre, England now ranks as the second-most densely populated country in Europe after the Netherlands (507 persons per sq km).
Present and projected increases in the population only pose a problem under the conditions imposed by capitalist society—the laws of profit first and can’t pay, can’t have.
Capitalism is not only a system of artificial scarcity, it is also a system of organised waste. Countless millions of workers are to be found in the armed forces, many more in the security and law and order business, with many times that number employed in the field of commerce and finance.
The problem becomes not one of feeding the growing population, but of organising production and distribution on a rational basis. While we can expect the Malthusian prophets of doom to remind us that every new child means an extra mouth to feed, they will neglect to add that it also means an extra pair of hands, an extra brain, capable of contributing to the common good. It is no state secret that production is not primarily produced to satisfy needs. It is produced for the market and with a view to making profits.
Socialist society will ensure that the resources of the Earth are used in a manner that ensures every man, woman and child is adequately fed, cared for and housed—something capitalism has never been capable of overseeing.