Ghana's first postindependence population census in 1960 counted about 6.7 million inhabitants. By 1970 the national census registered 8.5 million people, about a 27 percent increase, while the most recent official census in 1984 recorded a figure of 12.3 million--almost double the 1960 figure. The nation's population was estimated to have increased to about 15 million in 1990 and to an estimated 17.2 million in mid-1994. With an annual growth rate of 2.2 percent for the period between 1965 and 1980, a 3.4 percent growth rate for 1981 through 1989, and a 1992 growth rate of 3.2 percent, the country's population is projected to surpass 20 million by the year 2000 and 35 million by 2025.
Increasing population is reflected in other statistical representations as well. Between 1965 and 1989, a constant 45 percent of the nation's total female population was of childbearing age. The crude birth rate of 47 per 1,000 population recorded for 1965 dropped to 44 per 1,000 population in 1992. Also, the crude death rate of 18 per 1,000 population in 1965 fell to 13 per 1,000 population in 1992, while life expectancy rose from a 1970 to 1975 average of forty-two years for men and forty-five years for women to fifty-two and fifty-six years, respectively, in 1992. The 1965 infant mortality rate of 120 per 1,000 live births also improved to 86 per 1,000 live births in 1992. With the fertility rate averaging about seven children per adult female and expected to fall only to five children per adult female by the year 2000, the population projection of 35 million in 2025 becomes more credible. A number of factors, including improved vaccination against common diseases, and nutritional education through village and community health-care systems, contributed to the expanding population. The rise in the nation's population generated a corresponding rise in the demand for schools, health facilities, and urban housing.
The gender ratio of the population, 97.3 males to 100 females, was reflected in the 1984 figures of 6,063,848 males to 6,232,233 females. This was slightly below the 1970 figure of 98 males to 100 females, but a reversal of the 1960 ratio of 102.2 males to 100 females. The fall in the proportion of males to females may be partly attributed to the fact that men have left the country in pursuit of jobs.
Also significant in the 1984 census figures was the national age distribution. About 58 percent of Ghana's population in 1984 was either under the age of twenty or above sixty-five. Approximately 7 million people were represented in this category, about 4 million of them under the age of ten and, therefore, economically unproductive. The large population of young, economically unproductive individuals appeared to be growing rapidly. In the early 1990s, about half of Ghana's population was under age fifteen. If the under-twenty group and those above the age of sixty are regarded as a dependent group, the social, political, and economic implications for the 1990s and beyond are as grave for Ghana as they are for sub-Saharan Africa as a whole.
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