African Studies Population and Demography
by
Odile Frank
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 October 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0071

Introduction

The population of Africa comprises the subpopulation of North African countries above the Sahara and the subpopulation of countries below the Sahara. The belt of countries across Africa at the southern fringe of the Sahara, in the Sahel region of grasslands and savannah that includes the countries of the easternmost Horn of Africa, shows variation in population origins and lifestyles, but this region is considered sub-Saharan. The demography of the population of African countries can be first characterized with traditional descriptors, namely fertility (measures of births), mortality (measures of deaths), and migration (measures of movement into and out of countries), along with the resulting population growth (the difference between population increase due to births and immigration and decrease due to deaths and emigration). As vital registration and statistics are poor, demographic measures are based on indirect estimation from censuses and surveys. To provide a complete overview of the demography of Africa also requires a characterization of contributing phenomena more typical of Africa than elsewhere. This is particularly the case in explaining African patterns of fertility. These factors include family structure, child fostering, breast-feeding, abstinence, and infertility. Furthermore, slavery had consequences for the populations of Africa as well as for those of the Americas. African populations south of the Sahara have been the last to enter the demographic transition that universally accompanies development, characterized by a shift from high death and birth rates to low death and birth rates. Typically, death rates decline before birth rates decline, and that era of growth establishes momentum for further population growth. Africa has enjoyed a decline in death rates since the mid-20th century, despite marked setbacks due to deaths from AIDS and persistent child mortality. Births are declining in a number of countries, but only after substantial population growth has ensured significant lasting growth. Also, births have not declined everywhere, and declines are often slowly paced. Current country names are used in all references.

General Overviews

The authoritative source of information on population levels and trends and estimates of fertility and mortality for all countries of Africa is the biannual publication of the United Nations, World Population Prospects. The best introductions to population and demography in Africa are found in classical works of the 1960s: The Demography of Tropical Africa (Brass, et al. 1968) and The Population of Tropical Africa (Caldwell and Okonjo 1968). No general study of demography and population in Africa has been published since then. An excellent source of information by country based on surveys, the Demographic and Health Surveys (see MEASURE DHS), makes time trend analysis possible for many countries. The African Census Analysis Project of the University of Pennsylvania compiled African census data from the 1970, 1980, and 1990 rounds of censuses. At present, and in general, individual, academic, and research studies of Africa most often shed light on individual countries or groups of countries, with some exceptions. Broad overviews, regional analyses, and comparative studies are more frequently available from the international organizations, programs, and agencies of the United Nations and the UN system. An important source for information relevant to the causes and consequences of Africa’s population and demography can be found at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa website, through Population Information Africa (POPIA), and at the African Union website (by topic).

  • African Census Analysis Project.

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    The African Census Analysis Project ACAP assembled African censuses of the 1970, 1980, and 1990 rounds in collaboration with African research institutions and governments and the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Its Pan-African Census Explorer (PACE) database contains over fifty-five censuses from twenty-six countries. Although active from its inception in 1997 to 2006, and having begun a series titled A General Demography of Africa, the project now appears inactive.

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    • African Union.

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      Established in 1999 by the African governments of the Organisation of African Unity, the African Union promotes solidarity between states, coordinates cooperation for development, safeguards territorial integrity, and cooperates with the United Nations and its programs and agencies. Selected population issues are addressed within the Social Affairs program and the Women, Gender and Development program.

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      • Brass, William, Ansley J. Coale, Paul Demeny, et al. The Demography of Tropical Africa. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968.

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        This classic remains a basic tool. Part I addresses sources of data and methods of analysis to measure fertility and mortality (and nuptiality) in Africa. Part II comprises case studies of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Burkina Faso, Benin, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and parts of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Mali and Senegal; Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau; and Sudan.

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        • Caldwell, John C., and Chukuka Okonjo. The Population of Tropical Africa. Proceedings of the First African Population Conference, sponsored by the University of Ibadan in cooperation with the Population Council and held at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, 3–7 January 1966. London: Longmans, 1968.

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          This significant volume records the first African Population Conference held at the University of Ibadan in 1966. Thirty-three papers address African censuses, vital statistics, correction of sex-age distribution, estimation of fertility, mortality and natural increase, and the movement of population, density, and urbanization. Several contributors also contributed to Brass et al., 1968.

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          • MEASURE DHS: Demographic and Health Surveys.

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            From 1985 to 2012, The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) program has collected population data in forty-five African countries using various nationally representative surveys with sample sizes up to 5,000–30,000 households to measure fertility and mortality. Related health topics include HIV, maternal mortality, and nutrition. Forty countries have been resurveyed, and seven countries were surveyed between seven and eleven times, enabling trend analysis.

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            • Population Information Africa.

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              Population Information Africa (POPIA) was an initiative of the Sustainable Development Division of ECA, designed to provide online space to disseminate population- and development-related information to African policymakers and researchers. Launched in 1999, it was revised and developed in 2001. It disseminated Africa’s Population and Development Bulletin in 2002, but it appears that it has been inactive since then.

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              • United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

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                Established by the UN as a Regional Commission in 1958, ECA is mandated to promote economic and social development in its member states. Since 2012, the African Centre for Statistics within ECA promotes civil registration and the development of vital statistics under the Africa Programme on Accelerated Improvement of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics, sponsored by the African Union and the African Development Bank.

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                • United Nations Population Division. World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision.

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                  The Population Division of the United Nations revises its global demographic estimates and projections every two years. The 22nd, dated 2010, was issued in May 2011. The next revision was scheduled for early 2013. As of the current 2010 revision, the United Nations will issue the results of World Population Prospects only in electronic formats that can be downloaded from the UN’s website.

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                  The Socioeconomic Context

                  Sub-Saharan countries have the lowest level of human development of any world region. According to the 2011 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 34 of the world’s 46 poorest countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, and 34 of the 45 countries in sub-Saharan Africa are among the poorest of the world. Sub-Saharan countries are among those with the lowest life expectancy, least schooling, and lowest gross national income in the world. As a result, there are major concerns for the welfare of many populations of the African region at present and for the future (see United Nations Development Programme 2011).

                  Fertility

                  In demography, fertility refers to all children ever born, and not to the capacity to have children per se. The World Fertility Survey (WFS; 1972–1985) was a historic undertaking that contributed importantly to demographic methodology and produced measures of fertility for 66 countries (14 African countries between 1977 and 1983) that together represented nearly 40 percent of the world’s population. The survey and its findings are summarized in two books coauthored by John Cleland (Cleland and Hobcraft 1985, Cleland and Scott 1987). MEASURE DHS (see General Overviews) is the direct successor of the WFS in substance and scope. Leridon and Menken 1979, a collection of scholarly articles, is an important contribution to understanding basic differences between fertility in Africa and in other world regions. Also in the 1970s, John C. Caldwell first elaborated his theory of the net intergenerational wealth flow, which is favorable to fertility in the African context. The elaboration of the immediate, or proximate, determinants of fertility in Africa can be found in two journal articles: Bongaarts, et al. 1984 and Frank and Bongaarts 1991. Acsadi, et al. 1990, from a World Bank symposium, examines a range of determinants and consequences of high fertility in Africa. It is important to note that there is a substantial difference between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa in levels and trends in fertility. Whereas the situation in North Africa is similar to that in other regions of the world, that is clearly not the case for sub-Saharan Africa. Accordingly, the literature on African fertility focuses essentially on analysis of the situation in sub-Saharan Africa. The best source of information on the levels and trends of fertility in individual countries is the United Nations Population Division (see General Overviews), which produces new estimates every two years.

                  • Acsadi, George T. F., Gwendolyn Johnson-Acsadi, and Rodolofo A. Bulatao, eds. Population Growth and Reproduction in Sub-Saharan Africa: Technical Analyses of Fertility and Its Consequences. Washington, DC: World Bank, 1990.

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                    This collection of fifteen articles provides an overview not only of the determinants, but also of the consequences, of fertility—for growth of population, urban growth, agricultural productivity, and natural resources. It also addresses the roles of population policies and family planning programs.

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                    • Bongaarts, John, Odile Frank, and Ron Lesthaeghe. “The Proximate Determinants of Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Population and Development Review 10.3 (1984): 511–537.

                      DOI: 10.2307/1973518Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      This article was the first to set out a complete picture of determinants of fertility in Africa, including marriage, contraceptive practice, abstinence, breast-feeding, and childlessness.

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                      • Caldwell, John C. “Towards a Restatement of Demographic Transition Theory.” Population and Development Review 2.3–4 (1976): 321–366.

                        DOI: 10.2307/1971615Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        This article presents the original concept of a “net intergenerational wealth flow,” which was traditionally favorable to parents in the African context, whereas it becomes favorable to children in societies having lowered their fertility.

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                        • Cleland, John, and John Hobcraft. Reproductive Change in Developing Countries: Insights from the World Fertility Survey. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.

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                          The World Fertility Survey (WFS) comprised nationally representative surveys of household members and women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years). This volume assembles twelve essays on the enterprise, of which three address its history and the survey methods used to provide information on marriage, fertility, and contraceptive practice, and the remainder address marriage, social organization, contraception, motivation, and social determinants of fertility.

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                          • Cleland, John, and Christopher Scott. The World Fertility Survey: An Assessment. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

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                            WFS surveys were executed by national agencies, strengthening African institutional capacity. WFS developed materials to conduct surveys, including modular questionnaires with manuals. Approximately 350,000 to 400,000 women were interviewed globally. Although findings illustrated the historic slowdown in global population growth, the surveys shed as much light on mortality decline as fertility decline. African WFS survey data can be obtained from the Princeton University website.

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                            • Frank, Odile, and John Bongaarts. “Behavioural and Biological Determinants of Fertility Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Statistics in Medicine 10.2 (1991): 161–175.

                              DOI: 10.1002/sim.4780100203Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              This article highlights the particularities of African fertility levels and decline; because biological factors tend to set limits on even high fertility, the abandonment of traditional behaviors and customs can lead not only to contraceptive practice, but also to an increase in fertility that dampens the impact of contraceptive use.

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                              • Leridon, Henri, and Jane Menken, eds. Natural Fertility: Patterns and Determinants of Natural Fertility. Liège, Belgium: Ordina, 1979.

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                                In nineteen chapters, this landmark publication reviews the range of factors that can account for fertility levels in populations that do not practice contraception. This approach is essential to understanding African fertility before fertility decline and in African countries where fertility has changed little to date. Contains some articles in French.

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                                Recent Trends

                                Recent studies have explored the reasons for the slow decline of fertility in Africa. Caldwell 2005 updates the author’s earlier analysis of net intergenerational wealth flows, arguing that the flow in favor of parents still holds when and where parents gain more than they pay out for children, continuing to favor fertility. A more recent article, Guengant and May 2011, tends to demonstrate that, notwithstanding several decades of research and evidence that African fertility is moderated by factors that play an insignificant role in other regions of the world, the exercise of assessing African fertility estimates and projections continues to be carried out in much the same way as for other regions, which is indifferent to Africa’s particularities. Romaniuk 2011, by a long-standing expert on African fertility, underscores that Africa’s fertility decline will continue to lag for numerous reasons.

                                • Caldwell, John C. “On Net Intergenerational Wealth Flows: An Update.” Population and Development Review 31.4 (2005): 721–740.

                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2005.00095.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  Presents an update of the author’s original concept of intergenerational wealth flows after nearly thirty years. Wealth flow shifts from being favorable to parents in traditional societies to being favorable to children in societies having lowered their fertility. The essay highlights the economic shift from parents’ lifelong benefit from child labor, which supports higher fertility, to parents’ investment in their children’s education, which discourages higher fertility.

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                                  • Guengant, Jean-Pierre, and John F. May. Proximate Determinants of Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa and Their Possible Use in Fertility Projections. United Nations Population Division Expert Paper 2011/13 (2011). New York: United Nations Population Division.

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                                    This expert paper elaborates the uneven and unpredictable nature of the African fertility decline, explores how accounting for determinants of fertility particular to Africa can shed light on the explanation of African differences, considers difficulties due to lack of data, and underscores that African fertility estimates and projections will inevitably continue to be marked by uncertainty.

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                                    • Romaniuk, Anatole. “Persistence of High Fertility in Tropical Africa: The Case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” Population and Development Review 37.1 (2011): 1–28.

                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2011.00388.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      The author reviews the determinants of fertility trends in the DRC over fifty years, underscores that the declines in postpartum abstinence and in childlessness due to infertility have raised fertility, and that fertility is still largely buttressed by culture and tradition rather than discouraged by economic rationality, concluding that fertility decline has started but is likely to take considerable time.

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                                      Mortality

                                      Mortality in Africa is characterized by several phenomena, including a difference between North Africa, where the pace of change of mortality is similar to that in other regions of the world, and sub-Saharan Africa, where mortality decline has been marked by reversal due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, especially in the southernmost countries of the continent. Another aspect of mortality in the continent is the persistence of infant, child, and maternal mortality in many parts of the continent. In additional to immediate biological causes, the economic and social context moderated by culture and behavior plays an important role as well, helping to explain the lags that Africa has experienced (see Pison, et al. 1989). Even more so than fertility, the absence of vital registration and statistics means that African mortality levels are based on estimates derived from censuses and surveys, especially fertility surveys. The best estimates of mortality and mortality projections are produced by the United Nations Population Division (see General Overviews). The United Nations has also provided excellent technical manuals for the estimation of mortality (see United Nations 1983).

                                      • Pison, Gilles, Mpembele Sala Diakanda, and Etienne Van de Walle, eds. Mortalité et Société en Afrique au sud du Sahara. Papers presented at a conference held in Yaounde, Cameroon, 19–23 October 1987. Travaux et documents Cahier 124. Paris: Institut National d’Études Démographiques, 1989.

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                                        A landmark collection of papers presented at a seminar held by the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) in 1987 to examine determinants of levels and trends of mortality in Africa. Provides an excellent overview of the economic and behavioral context of mortality. Also notable is that the impact of AIDS was already being addressed at the seminar at this early date. The concluding chapter by Jacques Vallin, “Théorie(s) du déclin de la mortalité et situation africaine” (pp. 399–431), is insightful.

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                                        • United Nations. Manual X: Indirect Techniques for Demographic Estimation. Population Studies 81. New York: United Nations Department of International Economic and Social Affairs, 1983.

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                                          The manual provides essential background to understand the methodology of estimation of mortality and fertility in the absence of good vital registration data, which is broadly the case in Africa.

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                                          Causes of Death

                                          Cause of death is an important additional piece of information, and because of the lack of other sources of this information, deaths by cause are largely estimated for African countries. In recent years, household surveys with dedicated mortality and health modules have increased knowledge, albeit on a narrow range of questions. Notwithstanding these limitations, it is acknowledged that the major causes of deaths in Africa are infectious diseases, including malaria, tuberculosis, and other respiratory diseases at all ages; diarrheal and other diseases in childhood, including vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles; and AIDS in adults—but also, persistently, in infants (see Adjiuk, et al. 2006). There has also been growing concern for increased mortality due to noncommunicable diseases in Africa because of lifestyle changes, most particularly in association with obesity, such as adult-onset diabetes and hypertension-related cardiovascular disease (see Jamison, et al. 2006). The World Health Organization provides overviews of causes of death through publications on particular diseases and summary annual reports (see World Health Organization 2011a and World Health Organization 2011b). The World Bank has maintained an interest in mortality and causes of death in parallel with its focus on issues of African economic growth and development policies (see Jamison, et al. 2006).

                                          • Adjiuk, Martin, Tom Smith, Sam Clark, et al. “Cause-Specific Mortality Rates in Sub-Saharan Africa and Bangladesh.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization 84.3 (2006): 181–192.

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                                            The authors find when comparing information on causes of death in Africa and in a large low-income developing country that deaths due to communicable diseases play a greater role, especially deaths due to malaria and to AIDS, in Africa than in Bangladesh.

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                                            • Jamison, Dean T., Richard G. Feacham, Malegapuru W. Makgoba, et al. Disease and Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa. 2d ed. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2006.

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                                              This update of a 1991 publication takes account of the full impact of the HIV epidemic, including its effects on diseases and deaths due to other causes, and provides a detailed overview of levels and trends in mortality of major age groups and of the impact of causes of death within major cause groupings.

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                                              • World Health Organization. World Health Report 2011: Health Systems Financing: The Path to Universal Coverage. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2011a.

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                                                The World Health Organization’s flagship report since 1995, it provides an expert focus and country statistics on a different global health topic every year. The report addresses policymakers as well as a wide audience interested in global health issues. Previous reports can be consulted online.

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                                                • World Health Organization. World Health Statistics 2011. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2011b.

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                                                  This publication presents tabulations of data compiled for 193 states on life expectancy and mortality; cause-specific mortality and morbidity; selected infectious diseases; health service coverage; risk factors; health workforce, infrastructure, and essential medicines; health expenditures; health inequities; and demographic and socioeconomic statistics.

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                                                  The Millennium Development Goals

                                                  In keeping with the Millennium Declaration endorsed by 147 UN heads of state in September 2000, establishment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for child mortality (MDG 4, to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015), maternal mortality (MDG 5, to reduce the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015), and deaths due to AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis (MDG 6, to halt, and have begun to reverse, the spread of HIV and the incidence of malaria and tuberculosis by 2015) gave rise to the creation of indicators to characterize the progress of countries in their development, and that have special relevance for Africa, where there are few other means to monitor progress in the decline of diseases and mortality. The call to monitor progress also led to increased attention being given to the measurement of achievement at intervals, in order to assess the pace and extent of mortality decline. All mechanisms for monitoring progress on MDGs provide detailed information on the pace of change in African countries and the African region, as well as information on the need—and the means used—to estimate data where sources are limited. The United Nations periodically assesses overall progress on the MDGs by means of a UN interagency mechanism that assembles data from states and completes them with estimates (see United Nations 2011). Child mortality is tracked by another UN interagency mechanism (see United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation 2011). Maternal mortality in Africa is tracked by a third interagency mechanism, the Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-agency Group (MMEIG) (see World Health Organization 2010). Incidence of HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis and deaths due to AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis are tracked by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (World Health Organization 2011a, World Health Organization 2011b, UNAIDS 2010, United Nations 2011). Surveillance of HIV levels in pregnant women at prenatal clinics is a major tool to estimate the course of the HIV epidemic (UNAIDS 2010). The poor quality of sources and the variability of estimations occasionally leads to the publication of varying—and even competing—information based on different sources of data and methodologies (Lozano, et al. 2011; Murray, et al. 2012).

                                                  • Lozano, Rafael, Haidong Wang, Kyle J. Foreman, et al. “Progress towards Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 on Maternal and Child Mortality: An Updated Systematic Analysis.” Lancet 378.9797 (2011): 1139–1165.

                                                    DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61337-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    This article provides an alternative source of estimations on the declines in maternal and child mortality and a critical analysis of the pace of progress on MDGs 4 and 5 in African countries and in other developing regions.

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                                                    • Murray, Christopher J. L., Lisa C. Rosenfeld, Stephen S. Lim, et al. “Global Malaria Mortality between 1980 and 2010: A Systematic Analysis.” Lancet, 379.9814 (2012): 413–431.

                                                      DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60034-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      The authors argue that, based on a systematic analysis of a broad range of information, malaria mortality (part of MDG 6) is underestimated globally, in particular in older children and adults. The sharp declines in malaria mortality are acknowledged, but at a higher overall level.

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                                                      • UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic. Geneva, Switzerland: UNAIDS, 2010.

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                                                        This edition of the epidemic overview by UNAIDS is a reference on MDG 6. The tome brings together incidence and prevalence information, and it presents country and global responses in prevention, treatment, human rights and gender advocacy, and investments. The reference is a basic source of information on the HIV epidemic in Africa.

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                                                        • United Nations. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2011. New York: United Nations, 2011.

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                                                          Compiled by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on MDG Indicators, the report provides the current status of achievement of the eight MDGs. The analysis underscores notable regional and country progress—and failure to progress.

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                                                          • United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation. Levels & Trends in Child Mortality, Report 2011: Estimates Developed by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation. New York: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2011.

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                                                            The UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation produces global and country estimates and analyses trends in child mortality, comparing progress between countries and regions since 2004. The work engages known experts in child mortality. Increased sample sizes of household surveys providing the basic data have enabled increased frequency of estimation; at present, annual estimates have refined child mortality tracking.

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                                                            • World Health Organization. Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2008: Estimates Developed by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank. Geneva, Switzerland: The World Health Organization, 2010.

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                                                              The Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-agency Group (MMEIG) has produced estimates of maternal mortality since 1990 and tracks Millennium Development Goal 5. MMEIG comprises known experts, many of whom work also on child mortality estimates. Definitions and methods to measure maternal mortality are described. The MMEIG database can be accessed online.

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                                                              • World Health Organization. Global Tuberculosis Control: WHO Report 2011. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2011a.

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                                                                Published since 1997, this annual report provides information on estimated cases and deaths due to tuberculosis, and it addresses issues of comorbidity with HIV and issues of research and development. Annexes document the methods of estimation of cases and deaths and present these data, as well as a range of indicators by country and region.

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                                                                • World Health Organization. World Malaria Report 2011. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2011b.

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                                                                  Published annually, this report summarizes estimates of cases and deaths from malaria-endemic countries, as well as research on malaria. It reports on indicators and progress to malaria targets. The 2011 report highlights significant declines in cases and deaths that occurred in Africa between 2000 and 2010, and it presents country profiles.

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                                                                  Migration

                                                                  The movement of people within African countries, between African countries, and outside Africa is marked by its broad variability. It includes international migration and internal flows for both voluntary and involuntary purposes. At one end of the spectrum, voluntary international migration of African professionals to better their conditions of work and life through regular or irregular channels has been characterized as the “brain drain” of Africa. At the other end of the spectrum, conflict and drought have forced Africans to move within and across their borders in search of survival. Similarly grave circumstances mark the phenomena of human trafficking and people smuggling, where traffickers and smugglers exploit the search for a better life by unskilled individuals and propel them, at best, into irregular migration. The labels attached to persons who move reflect the origins of movement, but individual Africans who move may be attributed to several categories, because the categories overlap and individual circumstances change. International comparative information and research on population movement and migration in Africa is dispersed between international and intergovernmental organizations. United Nations Economic Commission for Africa 2006 provides a very good overview of the African situation with respect to population movement.

                                                                  • United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). International Migration and Development: Implications for Africa. New York: United Nations, 2006.

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                                                                    A background document for the High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development at the United Nations General Assembly, 14–15 September 2006. Gives an overview of the wide range of forms of migration within and outside Africa, and an analysis of the economic and social consequences, its impact on the achievement of the MDGs, skilled labor migration out of Africa (the “brain drain”), and the role of remittances.

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                                                                    International Migration

                                                                    International migration occurs both between African countries and between Africa and other regions (see Adepoju 2004a and Adepoju 2004b). Early studies carried out at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in the 1980s stand out as remarkable in defining the field (see Zacariah and Condé 1981 and Condé, et al. 1986). The United Nations Population Division is the best source for levels and trends in international migration (see United Nations 2011a and United Nations 2011b).

                                                                    • Adepoju, Aderanti. Changing Configurations of Migration in Africa. Migration Information Source (September 2004a).

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                                                                      This article discusses the increasing feminization and commercialization of migration, the more important role of labor migration as a response to the decimation of skilled workers due to HIV and AIDS than as a cause of it, as well as the potential role of new regional economic structures.

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                                                                      • Adepoju, Aderanti. “Trends in International Migration in and from Africa.” In International Migration: Prospects and Policies in a Global Market. Edited by D. S. Massey and J. E. Taylor, 59–76. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004b.

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                                                                        The author highlights the variety of movements that are mostly intra-regional, pointing out that the increase in irregular migration, diversification of migratory routes, and trafficking in migrants is due to worsening socioeconomic and political situations, including rapid population growth, economic depression, conflicts, political instability, widespread poverty, and deepening unemployment. Sub-regional economic unions could help address intra-regional labor mobility on a treaty basis.

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                                                                        • Condé, Julien, Papa Syr Diagne, N. G. Ouaidou, K. Boye, and A. Kader. South-North International Migrations: A Case Study; Malian, Mauritanian, and Senegalese Migrants from Senegal River Valley to France. Paris: Development Centre of the OECD, 1986.

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                                                                          Originally in French, this companion volume to Zachariah and Condé 1981 provides an overview of migration from French-speaking West Africa to France. As with Zachariah and Condé 1981, this publication is difficult to locate.

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                                                                          • United Nations Population Division. International Migration Report 2009: A Global Assessment. New York: United Nations, 2011a.

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                                                                            A reference on international migration, this report presents estimates by country and by world region of male and female international migrants and refugees, and migrant remittances, for the years 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010, including graphs of trends in international migrants and in the annual rate of change of migrants.

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                                                                            • United Nations Population Division. International Migration Flows to and from Selected Countries: The 2010 Revision. New York: United Nations, 2011b.

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                                                                              This is a web-based database that provides data by country and region on immigrants and emigrants by country of birth, country of residence, and citizenship for countries with data, providing for Africa principally the countries of destination.

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                                                                              • Zachariah, K. C., and Julien Condé. Migration in West Africa: Demographic Aspects. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.

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                                                                                A landmark World Bank/OECD study of the demographic aspects of migration in English-speaking West Africa that provided information on the estimated numbers and direction of external and internal migration. It includes socioeconomic characteristics of the migrants in each specific country, and was one of the first studies to attempt to provide a comprehensive picture of migration and its effects on population growth. Both it and its companion publication, Condé, et al. 1986, are difficult to find.

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                                                                                Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced and Stateless Persons

                                                                                The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) tracks refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons who are protected or assisted by the UNHCR, returned refugees and internally displaced persons, and stateless persons (see United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2011a and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2011b). The intergovernmental International Organization for Migration (IOM), which promotes humane migration management by providing services and advice to governments and humanitarian assistance to migrants, including refugees, internally displaced persons, and more generally, forced migrants, also tracks migration trends (see International Organization for Migration 2011). The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) estimates the numbers of persons affected and killed since 1988 in the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT), which can be consulted online. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (ICRC) publishes an annual World Disasters Report that tracks the demographic impacts of disasters from a range of sources (see International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 2011).

                                                                                People Smuggling, Human Trafficking, and the Rights of All Migrants

                                                                                Unlike other demographic phenomena, migration is an important focus of international standards, as well as a major area of concern in regard to human rights. The United Nations tracks the ratification by countries of international legal instruments of the United Nations and the International Labour Organization to protect refugees, migrant workers, and all migrants (see United Nations Population Division 2011). The violation of human rights is nowhere more blatant than in the case of human trafficking. The review by Aderanti Adepoju is a substantial introduction to the topic (Adepoju 2005). The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which combats human trafficking, provides information on smuggling of persons out of Africa (see United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2011). Work at the International Labour Organization (ILO) on forced labor since the 1990s highlights the link between trafficking and forced labor—which manifests itself as slavery, slavery-like practices, debt bondage, and compulsory prison work, among other forms—and has had an important role in informing the standard-setting process to protect the human rights and rights at work of workers in all regions (Belser, et al. 2005).

                                                                                Influences on African Demography

                                                                                To assess the demography of fertility in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, requires taking account of a number of phenomena that influence fertility levels that are particular to Africa. These include Abstinence, especially in the postpartum period; Child Fostering; Family Structure; and Infertility (childlessness or secondary infertility). Furthermore, the demography of Africa has been greatly influenced by Slavery, and the existence of a very significant African diaspora is largely due to slavery and cannot be ignored.

                                                                                Abstinence

                                                                                Abstinence from sexual relations can reduce fertility significantly. It is practiced in Africa principally after a birth, not so much to reduce fertility but in order to lengthen the birth interval and improve the chances of newborn survival. It is often tied with long-term breast-feeding. The demographic impact of abstinence is estimated for Africa in Bongaarts, et al. 1984 and Frank and Bongaarts 1991, and the mechanism is described in Demeny and McNicoll 2003.

                                                                                • Bongaarts, John, Ron J. Lestaeghe, and Odile Frank. “The Proximate Determinants of Fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Population and Development Review 10.3 (1984): 511–537.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/1973518Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  The authors model the dampening impact of postpartum abstinence and infertility on fertility, and argue that the decline of fertility will be delayed at any level of contraceptive practice by the declines in breast-feeding duration, postpartum abstinence, and infertility.

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                                                                                  • Demeny, Paul George, and Geoffrey McNicoll, eds. Encyclopedia of Population. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2003.

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                                                                                    The “Abstinence” entry underscores the combination of abstinence with lactational amenorrhea to provide a period of postpartum nonsusceptibility longer than the duration of either component. Abstinence extended the effect of lactational amenorrhea by four months in twenty-two African countries, which significantly increased birth intervals and reduced total fertility.

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                                                                                    • Frank, Odile, and John Bongaarts. “Behavioural and Biological Determinants of Fertility Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Statistics in Medicine 10.2 (1991): 161–175.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1002/sim.4780100203Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      The authors differentiate countries in sub-Saharan Africa where fertility will rise before contraceptive practice is adopted because it will be preceded by abandonment of traditional birth spacing, and countries where contraceptive practice increases in parallel with abandonment of traditional fertility regulation, showing no apparent demographic effect of increased contraception for some time.

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                                                                                      Child Fostering

                                                                                      Fostering is an institution whereby children can be raised by adults other than their parents, without formal or legal adoption. Fostering opportunities can meet the need to delay, space, or cease childbearing by providing the means to alter the consequences of childbearing. This “redistribution” of children between women can take place at one point in time—providing children to women who have none or few, or whose children are grown—or over a woman’s lifetime, reducing the concentration of the task of child rearing in the childbearing years. It is a major solution in times of crisis, and an important potential relief for women who are childbearing in a context of high fertility and high maternal mortality. The institution is still widely practiced in Africa. The demographic impact of child fostering is described in Isiugo-Abanihe 1985 and Page 1989.

                                                                                      • Isiugo-Abanihe, Uche C. “Child Fosterage in West Africa.” Population and Development Review 11.1 (1985): 53–73.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/1973378Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        The author examines the consequences of ignoring fostering in demographic analysis, explores the apparent motivations behind certain types of fostering, and examines the prevalence of fostering in four West African countries, while analyzing the characteristics of receiving mothers and their fostered children.

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                                                                                        • Page, Hilary. “Childrearing versus Childbearing: Coresidence of Mother and Child in Sub-Saharan Africa.” In Reproduction and Social Organization in Sub-Saharan Africa. Edited by Ron J. Lesthaege, 401–441. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.

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                                                                                          The author reports an analysis of fostering for seven African countries based on analysis of household questionnaires in nationally representative surveys. She shows a large variation in fostering that is well documented, highlighting the greater prevalence in West Africa than in East Africa, and links the prevalence to the social organization of the family.

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                                                                                          Family Structure

                                                                                          In many societies of sub-Saharan Africa, women are responsible for the costs of raising their children. In order to raise their families, it is often the case that they need access to resources, in particular land that they can farm. In these societies, men most often hold ownership of resources, and marriage provides access to them by women, with the proviso that the children born during the marriage, while raised by their mothers, are only members of their fathers’ families. This understanding is often sealed by “bride price,” which ensures the husband’s rights to his children. In the more traditional societies of this type, fathers provide little economic support and do not experience the costs of child rearing, whereas women are acutely aware of the costs of children, but bear children to maintain their access to resources. Where these patterns arise, there are demographic consequences, as the economic costs of child rearing may be invisible to fathers but borne by mothers, who are not usually the decision makers. Documentation on the role of family structure in fertility can be found in Frank 1990, Lesthaeghe 1989, and Oppong 1985.

                                                                                          • Frank, Odile. The Childbearing Family in Sub-Saharan Africa: Structure, Fertility and the Future. Population, Research and External Affairs Working Paper 509. Washington, DC: World Bank, 1990.

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                                                                                            The author reviews cultural and societal structures that mediate demographic behavior in sub-Saharan Africa, underscores the economic independence of women heads of household, and elaborates four scenarios for fertility decline in Africa that would depend on the evolution of family structure, in particular increases in women-headed households.

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                                                                                            • Lesthaghe, Ron J., ed. Reproduction and Social Organization in Sub-Saharan Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.

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                                                                                              The collection covers characteristics of African family systems and underscores the ways in which they affect reproduction and fertility. Topics include child spacing, sterility (infertility), polygyny (polygamy), nuptiality, and nonparental child-rearing (fostering), including their utility in the social organization of African cultures and families and their probable demographic consequences.

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                                                                                              • Oppong, Christine, ed. Female and Male in West Africa. London: Allen and Unwin, 1985.

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                                                                                                A collection of twenty-five articles on the status of women in West Africa and the consequences of that status for livelihood and childbearing. Provides an excellent background for understanding the role of family structure and women’s paradoxically higher (women are economically independent) and lower (women require lineage attachment for access to resources) status, and the influence of both on fertility.

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                                                                                                Infertility

                                                                                                The absence of a live birth (primary infertility) or very low fertility in the absence of other factors (secondary infertility) are not systematically assessed in sub-Saharan Africa, and they vary substantially between subregions of the continent. As infertility is principally due to acquired pathological sterility in populations that do not practice contraception, and its cause is largely sexually transmitted infections, notably gonorrhea and chlamydia, its frequency has been substantially reduced in Africa in recent decades due to the increased distribution and use of antibiotics (most often for other reasons). The direct and indirect consequences of infertility for fertility can be traced through Romaniuk 1968; Retel-Laurentin 1974; Cates, et al. 1985; and Larsen 2000.

                                                                                                • Cates, W., T. M. Farley, and P. J. Rowe. “Worldwide Patterns of Infertility: Is Africa Different?” Lancet 326.8455 (1985): 596–598.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(85)90594-XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  In this report of a World Health Organization “multicenter,” collaborative investigation of infertility conducted between 1979 and 1984 in twenty-five countries, African centers were found to have a different pattern of infertility from others, with a majority of couples (52 percent) experiencing secondary infertility. The specific causes of infertility—notably certain sexually transmitted infections—also differentiated Africa from other regions.

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                                                                                                  • Larsen, Ulla. “Primary and Secondary Infertility in Sub-Saharan Africa.” International Journal of Epidemiology 29.2 (2000): 285–291.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1093/ije/29.2.285Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    This article reports an analysis of twenty-eight African fertility surveys for evidence of primary and secondary infertility. Primary infertility was found to exceed 3 percent in a third of countries, and secondary infertility ranged from 5 to 23 percent. The author concludes that pathological infertility is high enough in sub-Saharan Africa to be of concern to the public health.

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                                                                                                    • Retel-Laurentin, Anne. Infécondité en Afrique Noire: Maladies et conséquences sociales. Paris: Masson et Compagnie, 1974.

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                                                                                                      A classic study of the biological and behavioral demographic variation between ethnic groups in thirteen countries of West and Central Africa, based on data collected in the early 1950s. The author found relationships between the transmission of sexually transmitted infections and patterns of marriage that resulted in a varied prevalence of infertility that could explain differences in natural fertility. In French.

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                                                                                                      • Romaniuk, Anatole. “The Demography of the Democratic Republic of Congo.” In The Demography of Tropical Africa. Edited by William Brass, Ansley J. Coale, Paul Demeny, et al., 241–341. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968.

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                                                                                                        This is an original classical analysis of the demography of the largest country in Africa. On the basis of a demographic inquiry carried out in 1955–1957, Romaniuk found incontrovertible evidence of primary and secondary infertility that varied by region and ethnic group, and that ranged up to 50 per cent of women with primary infertility.

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                                                                                                        Slavery

                                                                                                        The earlier Arab and later transatlantic slave trade altered the demography of African countries as well as the demography of slave destinations, notably in the Americas, despite the high mortality of slaves. Although slavery as a large-scale forced migration damaged the growth of African populations at a time when population growth was already very slow because of high mortality, its total demographic impact is difficult to assess. It is likely that marriage patterns adjusted to maintain the fertility of women, for example through polygyny. It is likely that the nature and force of the experience of enslaving and enslavement have had lasting influences on a number of African societies to this day. Cordell 1984 argues that understanding modern-day conflicts in Africa benefits from an understanding of the historical context of the slave trade. Cordell also points out that modern voluntary African immigration to North America has come to exceed the numbers of Africans who came to the region during the era of the slave trade. The demographic history of slavery itself is clearly traced and documented in McEvedy 1995 and Eltis and Richardson 2010.

                                                                                                        • Cordell, Dennis D. Dar al-Kuti and the Last Years of the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984.

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                                                                                                          On the basis of his research in Chad and Sudan, the author sheds light on the current understanding of conflict in the Republic of South Sudan and in Chad.

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                                                                                                          • Cordell, Dennis D. “The Myth of Inevitability and Invincibility: Resistance to Slavers and the Slave Trade in Central Africa, 1850–1910.” In Fighting the Slave Trade: African West Strategies. Edited by Sylviane A Diouf, 31–49. Athens, OH: University of Ohio Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                            Resistance to slave raiding altered the settlement and distribution patterns of the raided tribes, who often relocated, abandoning entire villages, hid in caves, and assembled into larger settlements in order to be better able to ward off slave raiders.

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                                                                                                            • Eltis, David, and David Richardson. Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                              This remarkable atlas traces the displacement of about 12.5 million Africans from Africa to the Western Hemisphere between 1501 and 1867, by means of 189 maps and data compiled from a range of historical records. Maps 53 to 111 document the African coastal origins (and ethnic territories) of the slaves and the routes they were embarked on.

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                                                                                                              • McEvedy, Colin. The Penguin Atlas of African History. Rev. ed. London: Penguin, 1995.

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                                                                                                                This revision of a 1980 atlas displays sixty historical maps to 1994, when Africa’s population reached the level projected for 2000 in the earlier edition. The shift in the slave trade from women to the Arab countries to predominantly men across the Atlantic is described in a series of maps for the years 1600–1850.

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