Mode of production and population patterns: Policy implications for West African development
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Recent developments in population theory have made possible a re-examination of demographic evidence from West Africa which suggests that population control and migration are primarily responses to changes in the nature of the production system. Precolonial, colonial, and independence period data provide a series of correlations consistent with the approach and suggest a new possible synthesis of the West African data. The poorest countries of West Africa are those bordering on the Sahara Desert, known as the Sahel region. In response to the drought and famine in that region from 1968-1974, numerous proposals have been made for increase attention to reducing population growth. The analysis presented in this paper leads to the conclusion that population policies other than those attempting to lower the birth rate are called for. These would include relocation of populations previously displaced by colonial labor migrations and the re-integration of herding and farming production systems, both of which policies should be considered as population policies. Data are presented from specific projects underway in Senegal, Mauritania, and Mali, to illustrate the argument.