The optimum population is an economic concept which denotes a balanced population-resource relationship in an area.
According to Preston Cloud, optimum population is the one that lies within limits, large enough to realize the potentialities of human creativity to achieve a life of high quality for all the inhabitants indefinitely, but not so large as to threaten dilution of quality or the potential to achieve it or the wise management of the ecosystem.
According to S.D. Maurya, the optimum population is the population size (the number of people) that in relation to given economic, social or military goals, produces the maximum return.
According to R.C. Chandana, the term optimum population may be defined as a density of population which with the given resources and skills, produces the maximum (greatest) economic welfare (usually the maximum income per capita) or allows the highest standard of living.
The concept of optimum population is concerned with the high quality of life. The quality of life means that each inhabitant received the adequate amount of food, energy, water, and air of high quality; advocate raw material to permit him to make all the things and the device is he needs; adequate medical care, recreational facilities, and cultural outlets, etc.
According to Germaine Veyret-Verner , optimum population is the one that enjoys full employment, a satisfactory level of life, daily per capita intake over 2500 calories of food, per capita expenditure on food not exceeding 50 percent of total income, rational utilization of resources, dependency ratio not overburdening the adults and the division of labor permitting purely intellectual functions.
It is quite evident that the measurement of optimum population size for an area is extremely difficult. But following criteria may be used:
- Per capita product or per capita income,
- Full employment,
- The longevity of life (life expectancy),
- Dependency ratio,
- Availability of pure drinking water and air,
- The highest average standard of living,
- Per capita consumption of food and energy,
- The proportion of expenditure on food,
- Balanced population resource ratio,
- Balance demographic structure,
- Rational development of resources etc.