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Mortality, migration and rural transformation in sub-Saharan Africa’s urban transition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-30
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Demographic Economics
Issue number1
Early online date6 Dec 2016
DateAccepted/In press - 14 Nov 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 6 Dec 2016
DatePublished (current) - Mar 2017


The stylized facts of Africa’s urban transition highlight the limitations of traditional economic models of urbanization. Recent research has provided evidence that demographic rather than economic processes provide a more compelling explanation for observed trends in the region. In particular, mortality decline appears to be both a necessary and sufficient condition for urbanization to occur and a key driver of urban growth more broadly. The accumulation of survey data over the past few decades and the development of new geospatial datasets that incorporate satellite imagery are facilitating new, more spatially nuanced insights into the dynamics of urban population change in the region. This offers opportunity to develop better policies for managing urban change than those adopted in the past, which placed a misguided emphasis on manipulating migration incentives with little evidence of positive benefits.

    Research areas

  • Urbanization, Urban growth, Mortality, Migration, Fertility, Africa

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    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Cambridge University Press at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 734 KB, PDF document


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