The dependency ratio for the region is 90.7 which is slightly higher than the national average of 87.1. This regional average implies that there are about 91 persons in the dependent ages for every 100 persons in the working ages.
At the district level, Birim North (104.3%), Fanteakwa (104.8%) and Kwahu South (100.1%) are the districts with higher dependency ratios. These dependency ratios are higher than the regional average, which suggests the presence of a large proportion of children and the aged in these districts.
On the other hand, New Juaben municipality has a dependency ratio of 64:7 which is far below the regional average and the lowest among the districts. The low dependency ratio for New Juaben is consistent with its age structure with the smallest proportion of the population under 15 years in the region.
Population Density, Urbanization And Urban-Rural Composition
The Eastern Region is the fourth densely populated region in the country,coming after Greater Accra, Central and Ashanti Regions. The density of the Region increased from 54 persons per square kilometre in 1960 through 87 persons in 1984 to 109 in 2000.
The densities at the district level vary from a high of 684 in New Juaben, through 323 in Akwapim South, 99 in Birim North to a very low of 26 in the Afram Plains.
The region accounts for about a tenth (11.0%) of the country’s population and has about twothirds (65.4%) of its population living in the rural areas. An aspect of urban localities in the region is that they are rather medium to small size urban areas of which over half (57.1%) are under 10,000 inhabitants. An additional 30.4 per cent are between 10,000 and 19,900 people.
Only 6 urban areas (10.7%) have between 20,000 and 49,000 inhabitants. Koforidua, the regional capital (87,315 inhabitants), is the only urban area in the region with population higher than 50,000.
A feature of the urbanization in the region is that almost half (48.2%) of the 56 urban localities in 2000 are either “stagnating” or “diminishing” towns. Two of the factors that would explain the growth or stagnation of urban areas in the region are - the relative proximity to Accra, within commuting distance, and the historical links to the development of cocoa farming in the past, particularly during the colonial; for example for the old towns (Akuse, Nsawam, Asamankese, Aburi, Somanya, Kibi, Suhum, etc.).
Others, such as Aburi have important landmarks which made them important but which have not been able to retain those attractions of the past. Aburi remains an important tourist centre, but not as much for permanent residence as for excursions. Akuse was an important river port as well as an important commercial centre, where companies such as the UAC, G. B. Olivant, CFAO, John Holt, etc., established their district headquarters.
Another characteristic of urbanization in the region is the imbalance between the sexes, with females almost always out-numbering males. Of the 56 urban areas documented in the 2000 census, males outnumbered females in only five, with sex ratio higher than 100.0 (Kibi 100.6; Donkorkrom 101.6; Takorawase 103.1; Bondua 106.5 and Akwatia 108.6). On the other hand, the sex ratio is as low as 78.4 in Adukrom, 74.3 in Manya Kpongunor, 73.7 in Larteh and 71.4 in Obo. This implies a deficit of males with respect to females, in 51 of the 56 urban areas in the region.
The phenomenon of “stagnating” urban areas in the region is reflected at the regional level, with almost no increase in the proportion of the regional urban population between 1970 (28.7%) and 1984 (27.7%), although in 2000, the proportion of the regional urban population, registered a modest increase from 27.7 per cent in 1984 to 34.6 per cent in 2000.
The proportion of the population urban in the districts varies from 5.1 per cent in the Afram Plains district to 83.4 per cent in the New Juaben municipality. The level of urbanization in New Juaben is due to the fact that the municipality is a regional capital and therefore benefits tremendously from many development projects. Some of these projects have been completed while others are ongoing under a modernization programme for the capital.
Birthplace And Migratory Pattern
Among the districts, their place of birth is highest for East Akim (74.3%) and lowest for the Afram Plains district (48.7%). This is indicative of the high migrant population of Afram Plains.
Migratory movement is lower for seven of the 17 districts, which have lower than 30.0 per cent of the residents migrating to other regions and much higher (more than 30.0%) for the rest (8) of the districts.
The experience of the Afram Plains can be explained by migration for mainly economic reasons. The district is known for its arable land and the Volta Lake, both of which attract many people, notably from Kwahu South and from the Volta, Ashanti and the Northern Regions, who move to the district for employment mainly in the agricultural sector and in the fishing industry.
Fertility And Child Survival
Total Fertility Rate (TFR) for women aged 15-49 years. The TFR is the average number of children that would be born to a woman by the time she completes childbearing if she were to experience the prevailing age-specific fertility rate. There are other fertility measures such as Crude Birth Rate (CBR), General Fertility Rate (GFR) among others. The crude birth rate (CBR) is the simplest and most frequently used measure of fertility.
It is easy to calculate because it requires only the total number of births and the total population. It is crude and always expressed per 1000 population. It is crude because it includes all ages and both sexes in the denominator. There is no attempt to relate the births to the women at risk of having those births. Because of this it is not a measure of fertility at all.
The general fertility rate (GFR) expresses births relative to the number of women in the reproductive age. More data are required to calculate the GFR than the CBR because one has to know the age and sex composition of the population. The GFR is affected by age structure since there may be substantial variations between populations within the reproductive age range.
The TFR on the other hand, is a measure of fertility that is most widely used by demographers. It is calculated by adding up the age specific fertility rates (ASFR) and is always expressed as per one woman. It is a single figure measure that is independent of age structure.
The Total Fertility Rate in the region for women aged 15-49 years is 3.7 births per woman. This means that a woman in the region would have, on the average, 3.7 children in her lifetime. This however appears to be lower than the national average of 4.0 births per woman.
At the district level, the TFR is lowest in New Juaben (2.2) and highest in Birim North (5.0). Kwaebibirem (4.2%) and Afram Plains (4.7) are the only districts in the region with fertility rates higher than the national average of 4.0.
On the other hand, seven districts have fertility lower than the regional average of (3.7) and three districts with a TFR of 3.9, which is just below the national TFR and slightly higher than the regional TFR. The TFR in one district, East Akim, is the same as the national TFR (4.0).
Differences in the fertility levels for the district may be explained largely by education. Various studies have shown that formal education is inversely related to fertility. Women with no formal education tend to have more children than women with some formal education. The same educational differences may be applicable to men.
More than four in five children (86.5%) survive in the region, compared with 81.9 per cent nationally. The data however show variations among the 17 districts with New Juaben showing the highest child survival (88.5%), followed by Akwapim North with 88.3 per cent. Apart from Kwaebibirem (83.9%) and Fanteakwa (84.9%) the other 13 districts in the region recorded a child survival rate of 85.0 per cent or higher.
The relatively high levels of child survivorship in all districts in the region may be the result of improvements in health facilities and health care deliveries such as the eradication of polio and other killer diseases among children in the region.
There are a number of health education and promotion of nutritional supplement programmes for children and the need for a balanced diet in the region which may explain the high rate of children survival even for Afram Plains, which is a much less developed district.
Differences in child survivalship between New Juaben and Kwaebibirem reflect the amount of health facilities and health care deliveries in the two districts. New Juaben is a regional capital with a central government hospital and a well-equipped Catholic hospital and many other clinics. These certainly impact positively on the general health of the population in the municipality.