Chapter 8African Demographics: How Many People are Too Many People?

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Ellen Hillbom


What we know about a population – its size, growth rate and density, is fundamental when we are to explain economic-, social- and even political processes of change. How we are to understand the relationship between the number of people and the amount of land, or natural resources, they control has been much debated. In this chapter we show population statistics for Africa, discuss the potential positive and negative effects of population growth and present various pathways to fertility decline as well as how they relate to broader socio-economic change.


Hillbom, Ellen (2023). “African Demographics: How many people are too many people?”, In Ewout Frankema, Ellen Hillbom, Ushehwedu Kufakurinani and Felix Meier zu Selhausen (eds.), The History of African Development: An Online Textbook for a New Generation of African Students and Teachers. African Economic History Network E-book.

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