Ethiopia's first and only national census, conducted in 1984, put the population at 42 million, which made Ethiopia the third most populous country in Africa, after Egypt and Nigeria. The census also showed that by l994 Ethiopia's population would reach 56 million. According to World Bank projections, Ethiopia will have a population of 66 million by the year 2000 (other estimates suggested that the population would be more than 67 million).
The l984 census indicated that 46.6 percent of the population consisted of children under fifteen years of age, which indicated a relatively high rate of dependence on the working population for education, health, and social services. Such a high dependency rate often is characteristic of a country in transition from a subsistence to a monetized economy. Because of limited investment resources in the modern sector, not all the working-age population can be absorbed, with the result that unemployment can become a growing social and economic problem for an economy in transition.
The l988/89 economically active labor force was estimated to be 2l million, of which l9.3 million were in rural areas and l.7 million in urban areas. Estimates of the labor force's annual growth ranged from 1.8 to 2.9 percent.
The labor force's occupational distribution showed that in l990 some 80 percent of the labor force worked in agriculture, 8 percent in industry, and l2 percent in services. These figures had changed slightly from the 1965 figures of 86, 5, and 9 percent, respectively. Thus, while agriculture's proportionate share of the labor force fell, the other two sectors gained. This trend reflects a modernizing society that is diversifying its economy by expanding secondary and tertiary sectors.
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