The Economist Prints a Flawed But Decent Study of Africa’s Population

December 15, 2015 • Daily Email Recap

The young continent
With fertility rates falling more slowly than anywhere else, Africa faces a population explosion

ON A trolley in a government clinic in rural Ethiopia lies Debalke Jemberu. As a medic and a nurse winkle the sperm-carrying tubes out of his testicles, he explains why he decided to have a vasectomy. He is a farmer, growing wheat, sorghum and a local staple grain called teff. But his plot is barely a quarter of a hectare. He already has four children, and has often struggled to provide for them. “I couldn’t feed more children,” he says.
The medic, who has six more vasectomies to perform that day, interrupts to say he is finished. Mr Jemberu pulls up his trousers, pops on his woolly hat and continues. His parents had seven children, but they had eight hectares to farm. That plot has been shared among his siblings, and diminished by sales and land reforms. At the same time, he complains, the cost of living has gone up. Seven children would be far too big a family these days.


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