The uniqueness of the Ethiopian demographic transition within sub-Saharan Africa: multiple responses to population pressure, and preconditions for rural fertility decline and capturing the demographic dividend

  • Charles H. Teller George Washington U. and Addis Ababa U.
  • Assefa Hailemariam Addis Ababa University
  • Tesfayi Gebreselassie Addis Ababa University
  • Yordanos Seifu Addis Ababa University
Keywords: Demographic transition, demographic dividend, population policy, socio-economic development, migration/urbanization


The findings of our new book on population and development in the second largest country, Ethiopia, are presented. We highlight its uniqueness in demographic transitions among countries in sub-Saharan African. Ethiopia has the largest rural-urban fertility gap (with below replacement fertility for Addis Ababa), the lowest maternal health service coverage by far, the highest percentage of illiterate mothers, the largest number of food insecure people, and 83% of the population concentrated mainly in densely populated rural areas. We present a new framework for the study of both poverty and development-driven causes and demographic responses to frequent hazards common in the fragile Horn of Africa. Multiple vulnerabilities and responses are rigorously documented, with migration and off-farm labor mobility, female education, delayed marriage, and lower family size norms predisposing a predicted acceleration of the rural fertility decline. We propose numerous policy and research implications to evaluate progress on what may now be reachable 2015 population policy targets in TFR and CPR, and to prepare for a potential demographic dividend.