"Population" refers to the number of humans within a region, as well as the Earth as a whole. Every world region starts with a different population. Both over- and under-population can cause problems. While large-scale changes to a Region's population size are difficult to control, cards such as One Child Policy and Baby Boom can shift the curve up or down (in extreme cases using Sterilization or Plagues).
See: Stat Telemetry
Population is split into three major categories: children, elders, and adults. "Children" are members of the population below the region's Working Age and "elders" are members of the population above the region's Retirement Age. "Adults" are between the two ages and (if healthy) will be part of the region's Workforce, either working in the region's Agriculture, Industry, or Commerce sector or being unemployed.
Many developing regions can become vastly overpopulated, easily having over a billion people living in them.
- The biggest benefit of having such a high population is the massive workforce that comes from it. By sheer weight of numbers, highly populous regions like China and India can generate a tremendous amount of production in Agriculture, Industry, or - most profitably - Commerce. This large amount of production translates into major contributions to the GEO's income.
- However, because the money is divided up by so many people, highly populous regions have very small GDPs per capita and, thus, it is harder to raise the HDI of the Region.
- Large populations will put out large amounts of emissions from their need to both produce sufficient Energy and from their economic activity.
- As a population swells,regions typically hit a 'breaking point' where there's either not enough resources in the region to supply people with jobs, there's not enough food in the region to keep everyone fed, or emmisions are so out of control that the Healthcare in the Region starts failing beyond repair.
- When this happens, the region will rapidly become inefficent and unstable, causing a loss in GEO Support from the ensuing chaos, and can easily spiral out of control into a War if not put under control quickly.
Most developed regions, especially Japan and Australia, face the opposite situation; they have a small (and steadily shrinking) population and high HDIs caused by commerce-focused economies with comparatively few people to spread the wealth around to. Smaller populations mean that these regions are easier to keep secure and tend to be less polluting because of their reduced energy needs.
The biggest problem with small populations is their vulnerability to disasters.
- Underpopulated regions already have a relatively small and declining workforce, so a major disaster that results in a large loss of life can seriously damage the region's ability to to keep the economy running smoothly.
- On the Economic side, if disaster strikes and jobs start failing, it is exceptionally easy to have 50% unemployment. A region like China can still retain a vibrant workforce after serious disasters but a region like Japan will lack the ability to sustain a stable economy if it loses even a few million workers to storms, famine or shortages.
Another issue is that, due to the low number of people, it's often more efficient to focus GEO's efforts in more populated areas first. After all, it costs exactly the same to commit China to renewable energy as it does Japan, but the project would have over 10 times as much effect in China, due to the number of people affected. This doesn't seem like much of a concern (and, indeed, might help players decide where to begin their work), but it often means GEO will neglect the regions until it's too late to save it.