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Pakistan Population Dynamics: Everything You Need to Know

Pakistan’s rapid population growth can offer a demographic dividend or serve as a demographic burden.

pakistan population policy
A crowed in Lahore, Pakistan's second-most populated city. (Image Credit: Wiqi22 — CC BY-SA 3.0)

Pakistan is one of the world’s fastest-growing large population countries, with a high fertility rate of 3.45 and an average annual growth rate of 2.40 percent since 1998. Rapid population growth is both a challenge and an opportunity for the country. Pakistan can benefit from a demographic dividend or it can be overwhelmed by overpopulation.

Let’s address the potential opportunity first: rapid population growth can ensure the availability of a young labor force, which – in ideal circumstances – can increase productivity. Nearly 60 percent of Pakistan’s population is at or below the age of twenty-four. Only four percent of the population is above the age of sixty-five.

A large working-age population also ensures revenue for the government in the form of taxes, which can be used to provide services to those too young or too old to work. Young semi-skilled and skilled workers are also more likely to engage in economic activity that generates foreign exchange, which is vital for sustained economic growth.

But unmanaged population growth can lead to urban crowding, strain public resources, and – if there is a mismatch between labor skills supply and demand – lead to large unemployment and underemployment, which could create social unrest. Sustained growth requires investment in human development, including public health and education. Pakistan’s literacy rate is a dismal 58.92 percent.

Pakistan Population Today and in 2050

Pakistan’s population was 207,684,626 in 2017, according to that year’s census. Approximately 36 percent of the population lives in urban areas. Nearly 53 percent of Pakistan’s population lives in the province of Punjab. The fastest-growing areas of Pakistan since the 1998 census are rural areas of Islamabad and Balochistan.

By 2050, Pakistan’s population is projected to reach 307 million and it will be the world’s sixth most populated country. Once equal to Bangladesh in 1988, it’ll be almost fifty percent higher, reflecting the success of Bangladesh’s family planning policy and the failure of that of Pakistan.

Pakistan Cities By Population

Pakistan is home to some of the most populated cities in the world, though none rank among the top ten. Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city. Five of Pakistan’s ten largest cities are located in Punjab, the country’s largest province. Less than 40 percent of the country’s population lives in urban areas.

Here are Pakistan’s largest cities by population, according to the 2017 census:

1. Karachi — 14,916,456

Pakistan population by city Karachi
The Karachi Municipal Corporation head office. Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city by population. (Image Credit: Aliraza Khatri — CC BY-SA 4.0)

2. Lahore  — 11,126,285

Pakistan population by city Lahore fort
A view of the Lahore Fort in Lahore, Pakistan’s second-most populated city. (Image Credit: Rohaan Bhatti – CC BY-SA 3.0)

3. Faisalabad  — 3,204,726

pakistan population by city faisalabad clock tower
A view of the clock tower in Faisalabad, located in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Faisalabad is Pakistan’s third-largest city. (Image Credit: Usman Nadeem — CC BY-SA 4.0)

4. Rawalpindi — 2,098,231

pakistan population by city rawalpindi railway station
The main railway station in Rawalpindi, Pakistan’s fourth-largest city. (Image Credit: Miiqbal — CC BY-SA 3.0)

5. Gujranwala — 2,027,001

Pakistan population by city mall of gujranwala
The Mall of Gujranwala, located in Gujranwala, Pakistan’s fifth-largest city by population. (Image Credit: Super Asia Industries — CC BY-SA 3.0)

6. Peshawar — 1,970,042

pakistan cities by population peshawar islamia college
A view of Islamia College in Peshawar, Pakistan’s sixth-most populated city. (Image Credit: Hamzaniazi — CC BY-SA 4.0)

7. Multan — 1,871,843

Pakistan population by city multan ghanta ghar
A view of the Ghanta Ghar Chowk in Multan, Pakistan’s seventh-largest city. (Image Credit: Tahsin Shah — CC BY-SA 4.0)

8. Hyderabad — 1,734,309

pakistan population by city hyderabad
Hyderabad is Pakistan’s eight-largest city by population. (Image Credit: Farhan — CC BY 2.0)

9. Islamabad — 1,009,832

Pakistan population by city islamabad faisal masjid
Islamabad is Pakistan’s capital and ninth-largest city by population. (Image Credit: Abdul Baqi — CC BY-SA 3.0)

10. Quetta — 1,001,205

pakistan population by city quetta hanna lake
A view of Hanna Lake in Quetta, Pakistan’s 10th largest city and the most populated city in the province of Balochistan. (Image Credit: Aysafaran — CC BY-SA 4.0)
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