Population Movements and Problems in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • J. J. Spengler
Part of the International Economic Association Conference book series (IEA)


This paper is made up of three parts: (1) a review of some findings relating to fertility, mortality, and present and prospective natural increase in Sub-Saharan Africa; (2) a review of some findings relating to migratory movements in this region; (3) a brief indica tion of the economic implications of current population movements.


Population Growth African Population Ivory Coast Natural Increase Crude Natality 
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  1. 1.
    See Problems in African Demography, issued by the Union Internationale pour l’£tude Scientifique de la Population, Paris, 1960. Also bibliographical information in Frank Lorimer, Demographic Information on Tropical Africa, Boston: Boston University Press, 1961.Google Scholar
  2. See also K. M. Barbour and R. M. Prothero, eds., Essays on African Population, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1961, which appeared after this essay was completed.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ibid. I, pp. 8–12, II, pp. 118–19. Respecting East Africa Kuczynski noted specifically that mortality was high everywhere, much as in the late nineteenth century. Ibid. p. 119. Gross reproduction rates approximated 2·3 in England in 1870–80 and 2–8–3–2 in Eastern Europe around 1900. See Kuczynski’s essay in L. Hogben, ed., Political Arithmetic, New York: Macmillan Co., 1938, pp. 54–60.Google Scholar
  4. 2.
    United Nations, The Future Growth of World Population, New York: United Nations, 1958, pp. 3–5, 53 ff. While Asian (principally Indian) fertility appears to have begun to decline in Tanganyika and South Africa, it has been very high in the past in areas where Asians have settled. Thus their gross reproduction has approximated 2·9 in East Africa and perhaps exceeded this level in South Africa.Google Scholar
  5. See C. J. Martin, ‘A Demographic Study of an Immigrant Community: The Indian Population of British East Africa’, Population Studies, VI, March 1953, pp. 233–47; L. T. Badenhorst, ·Territorial Differentials in Fertility in the Union of South Africa—1911–1936’, ibid. November 1952, pp. 135–62, especially p. 157, and ‘The Future Growth of the Population of South Africa and Its ProbableCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Age Distribution’, ibid. IV, June 1950, pp. 3–46, especially pp. 10–12, 25; J. G. C. Blacker, ‘Fertility Trends of the Asian Population of Tanganyika’, ibid. XIII, July 1959, pp. 46–60. In 1952 gross reproduction in the Indo-Mauritian popula tion (3·32) was below that in the Chinese population (3·76) but above that in the rest of the population (2·91). See M. V. M. Herchenroder’s paper in United Nations, Papers: World Population Conference (1954), I, New York: United Nations, 1955, pp. 851–74, especially pp. 870–2; this work will be cited as Papers hereafter.Google Scholar
  7. 3.
    On checks of the sort described see L. T. Badenhorst and B. Unterhalter, ‘A Study of Fertility in an Urban African Community’, Population Studies, XV, July 1961, pp. 76–86; Lorimer, op. cit. pp. 54–7, 86–8, 93–4, 102–3, 125–7, 248, 265–8, 300–1, 347–8, 367, 379, 390, 393; Kuczynski, op. cit. passim; C. S. Ford, ‘Fertility Controls in Under-developed Areas’, in United Nations, Papers, I, pp. 841–9.Google Scholar
  8. Because of the reasons mentioned above as well as others described by K. Davis and J. Blake (see ‘Social Structure and Fertility: An Analytical Framework’, Economic Development and Cultural Change, IV, April 1956, pp. 211–235), gross reproduction seldom is as high as it might be. According to Lorimer (op. cit. p. 56), the number of live births per woman living through the child-bearing period ‘rarely rises above an average of 6·0 to 6·6’ In the absence of any sort of restriction upon fertility, P. Vincent concludes, a mother surviving to 45 years might normally bear 8–10 children. See ‘Recherches sur la fécondité biologique …’, Population, XVI, January-March 1961, p. 106. According to Lorimer and Karp, the number of children ever born per African woman in the 40’s generally averages 5–6 or more. See Population in Africa, Boston: Boston University Press, 1960, p. 5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. D. J. Stenning’s study of the Woodabe Fulani, Savannah Nomads, London: Oxford University Press, 1959, pp. 149, 152–5, 162, 164;Google Scholar
  10. J. C. Mitchell’s estimate of Yao gross reproduction at 2·8–2·9, in an ‘Estimate of Fertility in Some Yao Hamlets in Liwonde District of Southern Nyasaland’, Africa, XIX, October 1949, pp. 293–308; African Abstracts, V, 1954, items 594, 596, IX, 1958, items 163, 175, X, 1959, items 217, 284. On low natural increase and factors making for relatively low fertility see African Abstracts, IX, 1958, items 73, 182, 321, X, 1959, items 224, 369, 420, 426, XI, 1960, item 364; S. F. Nadel, The Nuba, New York: Oxford Press, 1947, pp. 514–16;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. L. F. Nadler, A Tribal Survey of Mongolia Province, London: Oxford University Press, 1937, p. 57;Google Scholar
  12. Monique de Lestrange, Les Coniaqui et les Bassari, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1955, pp. 8–11.Google Scholar
  13. 3.
    E.g., see D. F. Roberts and R. E. S. Tanner, ‘A Demographic Study in the Area of Low Fertility in North-east Tanganyika’, Population Studies, XIII, July 1959, pp. 61–80; Badenhorst, ‘Territorial Differentials in Fertility …’, loc. cit. pp. 150–61, whose findings indicate that overall Bantu fertility will fall as the fraction of the Bantu population living in cities rises. Badenhorst’s reference that urbanization will slowly reduce Bantu fertility is strengthened by his recent findings. See Badenhorst and Unterhalter, op. cit. See also African Abstracts, X, 1959, items 369, 420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 1.
    United Nations, Economic Survey of Africa since 1950, pp. 41–2. See also p. 294, footnote 1; D. H. Houghton, ‘Men of Two Worlds’, South African Journal of Economics, XXVIII, September 1960, pp. 177–90. A typical migrant worker in South Africa leaves home at 16, holds 34 jobs over a 31-year period (64 per cent of which is spent away from home), and returns home at 47 to settle there per manently. Ibid. pp. 180–1. See also on Central-African migration J. C. Mitchell’s essay in Barbour and Prothero, eds., op. cit. pp. 199–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 2.
    On rational aspects of migratory behaviour see W. J. Barber, ‘Economic Rationality and Behavior Patterns in an Underdeveloped Area: A Case Study of African Economic Behavior in the Rhodesias’, Economic Development and Cultural Change, VIII, April 1960, pp. 237–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. See also W. O. Jones, ‘Economic Man in Africa’, Food Research Institute Studies, I, May 1960, pp. 107–34.Google Scholar
  17. 2.
    E.g. see L. D. Stamp, Africa, chap. 5 and passim, and Our Developing World, chap. 7; also Kimble, op. cit. I, chaps. 4–5; W. O. Jones, ‘Food and Agricultural Econ omies of Tropical Africa’, Food Research Institute Studies, II, February 1961, pp. 8–13.Google Scholar
  18. 3.
    I have not referred to data relating to mineral and other natural resources and their significance since the inventorying of Sub-Saharan Africa’s resources has not been completed. This resource endowment tends to be exaggerated. The United Nations reports suggest that iron and coal are abundant only in the South and that the contribution of non-ferrous metals to gross national product is limited. See United Nations, World Iron Ore Resources and Their Utilization, 1950, Survey of World Iron Ore Resources, 1955, and Non-Ferrous Metals in Under-Developed Countries, 1956; these studies have been published by the United Nations in New York.Google Scholar
  19. See also W. R. Jones, Minerals in Industry, Middlesex: Harmondsworth, 1950; Kimble, op. cit. I, chaps. 4–7, 9; Robert McKinney, ed., Background Materials for Review of the International Atomic Policies and Programs of the United States, Vol. 4 of Report to the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, Congress of the United States, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1960. At present mining is quite important only in the Rhodesias, the Union of South Africa, and the Belgian Congo. See United Nations, Economic Survey of Africa, pp, 16–17.Google Scholar
  20. 2.
    Concerning the political and related aspects of this problem, see J. S. Cole-man’s essay in G. A. Almond and J. S. Coleman, The Politics of the Developing Areas, Princeton: Princeton Press, 1960, chap. 3.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Economic Association 1964

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. J. Spengler
    • 1
  1. 1.Duke UniversityDurhamUSA

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