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5. Why Is Africa Different?

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Published on Sep 25, 2009

Global Problems of Population Growth (MCDB 150)

In addition to cultural controls acting to maximize fertility, there are important, and often competing, interests of individual families to limit fertility. Unwanted births are dealt with by infanticide in many cultures. Additionally, fertility is regularly controlled by limiting marriage within a culture. Another very important factor in population growth, especially in the tropics, is food availability. Heavy rains in the tropics wash nutrients away, leaving deficient soils. Much of Africa is either too dry or too wet. Africa was, until recently, not densely populated. Since land was available and because more children meant more security and power, a culture evolved that emphasized high fertility, justified by the need for descendants to pacify ancestors. Sub-Saharan (tropical) Africa has the highest birth rates in the world. As an example, Niger, just south of the Sahara desert has a fertility rate of almost eight children per woman while, in the Mediterranean zone, Morocco, just north of the Sahara, but also a Sunni Muslim country, has a rate of only 3.3 children per woman.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Review and More on Cultural Controls on Fertility
09:53 - Chapter 2. Individual Level Controls on Fertility
23:28 - Chapter 3. Fertility Control by Controlling Child Bearers
27:53 - Chapter 4. Underpopulation in Africa
36:28 - Chapter 5. Agricultural Productivity in African Tropics
50:43 - Chapter 6. World Agricultural Comparisons
53:34 - Chapter 7. Diseases in Africa and Underpopulation

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Spring 2009.

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