PSC African Demography Working Paper Series

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version

December 1986


African Demography Working Papers Working Paper No. 14 December 1986


The study of demographic trends in sub-Saharan Africa though crucial in the assessment of the impact of population size and growth on the overall socio-economic development in the region, has received the least attention due to lack of reliable data for most of the countries. This paper focuses on the utilization of available data secured through population censuses and demographic surveys particularly the World Fertility Survey to ascertain trends in fertility and mortality. The estimates derived from the above sources should be interpreted with caution since they suffer from diverse deficiencies in the data base particularly coverage, content and consistency. It is apparent, though debatable, from the available estimates that fertility has increased in some countries--Kenya and Cameroon; has remained almost stable in Benin, Ivory Coast and Lesotho; and has slightly declined in Ghana. The underlying factors with regard to the apparent increase hinge on the improvement in the socio-economic indicators i.e. education and health services; relaxation of traditional controls i.e. breastfeeding and post-partum abstinence; and a reduction in the level of sterility. As far as trends in mortality are concerned, the estimates posit a decline in both infant and child mortality in Kenya, Benin and Ivory Coast; infant mortality in Cameroon; and child mortality in North Sudan and Senegal. Overall mortality levels are high in Western and Central Africa and low in Eastern and Southern Africa.


Africa, World Fertility Survey, Senegal, Ivory Coast, East Africa, Benin, Kenya, Ghana, Cameron, Sudan, Lesotho, South Africa, surveys, data, demographic trends, mortality, fertility, total fertility rate, vital statistics, civil registration, vital registration, fertility estimates, life expectancy, polygyny, breastfeeding, abstinence, Sub-Saharan Africa, death rate, estimates, birth rate, fertility trends, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Mauritania, North Sudan



Date Posted: 27 November 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.