The total population of the region is 576,583. This represents three per cent of the national population. The population of the region is not evenly distributed among the five districts. Wa has the largest population of 224,066, representing 38.9 per cent of the region’s population, while the remaining districts have about 15.0 per cent each.
Growth And Density
The region’s population of 576,583 is a 31.6 per cent increase from the figure of 438,000 in 1984. The growth rate of 1.7 per cent between 1984 and 2000 indicates that the region’s population is growing at a slower rate than that of the nation (2.7Per cent). The region has a population density of 31.2 persons per square kilometre. Though this is higher than that of 1984, it is much lower than the national figure of 79.3 but higher than that of the Northern Region (25.9).
Comparatively, the region is larger than the Upper East with regard to land size (approximately 18,478 square kilometres compared to 8,842 square kilometres). However, it has a smaller population, a lower population density, fewer District Assemblies and fewer Parliamentary Constituencies than Upper East.
The country shifted from the Local Authorities system to the District Assembly concept of administration in 1988. With this change, the country was demarcated into 138 districts out of the existing local authorities. It is therefore not possible to derive trend data for the districts. The boundaries of the districts in 2000 do not necessarily conform to the boundaries of the local authorities in 1984 but are coterminous with regional boundaries (Ghana Statistical Service, March 2002).
Age And Sex Structure
The characteristic of the age structure of Ghana is that of a high proportion of children (less than 15 years) and a small proportion of elderly persons (64 years and older). The age structure of the region, which mirrors the national picture, has a broad base (43.4%), representing children younger than 15 years and narrows up at the top with a small proportion (6.1%), representing the population aged 65 years and older.
The age-structure of the population in the districts is examined in broad and sometimes overlapping segments, each of which has implications for the demand for social services, future population growth, youth unemployment, the overall dependency burden, as well as the total labour force of the district.
In every district, at least 13.3 per cent of the population is a child below 5 years. The populations below 15 years fall within the narrow range of 40.5 per cent in Lawra and 44.2 per cent in Wa. This means that in all the districts, about two out of every five persons are children under 15 years of age who are almost entirely dependent on others for their needs.
The proportion of the population aged 0-4 years is lower than that of 5-9 years in each district. There is a difference of at least 11.0 percentage points in four districts and 6.0 percentage points in the fifth district, Wa. The youth aged 15-19 years are 9.0 per cent, or slightly higher, in each district. The median age of the population is around 18 years.
The population aged 65 years and older forms a small proportion of the population, ranging from 5.2 per cent in Wa to 7.8 per cent in Lawra, a reflection of the young age structure of the population of the districts.
Age Structure By Sex
The age structure for the sexes shows that although at the regional level there are more females than males, there are variations by age. There are more males than females in the age group 0-19 years. Between ages 20 and 69 years, there are more females than males but this changes again in favour of males for the elderly population, 70 years and older.
The observed age-sex structure at the national level depicts more females than males in almost every age group from age 20 years. The picture is, however, slightly different for Upper West in that males are predominant after age 70 years (Fig. 2.2). This may rather be a reflection of over statement of age for older male respondents or by interviewers since there is hardly any evidence of higher male survival than female at age 70 years and older in the region.
At the national level, females form 50.1 per cent of the population aged seventy years and older. However, in the region, the proportion is 48.1 per cent. The two adjacent regions, Northern (46.6%) and Upper East (47.2%) show similar deviations from the total country picture.
At the district level, the age structures for both sexes mirror the regional pattern. The fact that females outnumber males in the adult age groups may be due partly to out migration of able-bodied men to the southern regions of the country. This has implications for agriculture and food production, given the male domination in land ownership in the region. There are also implications for sexual and reproductive behaviour, even after taking into account the mitigating effects of polygamy.
The sex composition of the districts favours females. In each district, females form a little over one-half of the population. The proportion of females in the region is 1.6 percentage points higher than the national average. In the region, three districts, Jirapa- Lambussie, Lawra and Nadawli, have slightly higher proportions of females than the regional average of 52.1 per cent.
The age-sex ratios drop sharply at the regional level, from a high of about 110 males in the age group 15-19 years to below 85 males in the age group 20-24 years. The age-sex ratios remain low till age 40-44 years when they pick up again. The age-sex ratios from the age group 45-49 to the oldest age, pick-up gradually, in a consistent manner except for the dents at ages 50-54 and 60-64 years.
The observed pattern of the sex ratios reflects the effect of the sex ratio at birth, and the different patterns of migration and mortality for males and females. At the national level, the drop from age 15-19 to 20-24 is 13.1 percentage points while at the regional level, the drop is 26.2 points (from 109.5 to 83.3).
This is observed in each district. The magnitude of the drop however, varies between districts. The sharpest drop is in Lawra (30.0 percentage points), followed by Sissala (29.2 percentage points). The drop is lowest, 20.6 percentage points, in Nadawli.
Age-Sex Dependency Ratios
Age Dependency Ratios
The dependent population is measured by the young population (aged less than 15 years) and the aged population (65 years and older). The dependency ratio is therefore defined as the ratio of the sum of the young and aged populations to the active population (aged 15-64 years) expressed as a percentage.
The proportion of the dependent population has declined from 51.3 per cent in 1984 to 49.5 per cent in 2000 and from a dependency ratio of 105.3 in 1984 to 98.2 in 2000. This implies that there are now fewer dependants for the economically active population to support in 2000 than in 1984, although the burden is still relatively high.
A large dependency ratio would increase expenditures, reduce savings and therefore investments. Resources would have to be diverted to maintain the high percentage of dependants instead of being used on capital formation and productive ventures.
Life expectancy, which is the average number of years a Ghanaian is expected to live, given the prevailing health and social circumstances, will generally be low. Those on whom so much is spent in the form of education and medical facilities may not live long enough to contribute to development in the future.
If they should contribute to production at all, it may be for relatively short periods. It must be noted that if children under 15 years eventually enter the labour market to search for work, they may increase under employment and unemployment unless the economy expands enough to absorb them through job creation, infrastructure improvement and skills training. The government also spends on pensioners and provides various facilities for children.
Birthplace And Migratory Patterns
In the region, about 93.5 per cent of Ghanaians by birth were born in the region. The proportion varies between 76.1 per cent in Nadawli to 91.2 per cent in Jirapa-Lambussie. This implies that migrants into the region constitute between 8.8 per cent and 23.9 per cent of Ghanaians by birth in the districts. The highest proportion of migrants from within the region is recorded in Nadawli (16.9%) and the lowest in Lawra (3.0%). Lawra however, recorded the highest proportion of Ghanaians from other regions and outside Ghana (8.5%).
The volume of migration is generally low for both migration within the region and migration from outside the region. Only about seven per cent of Ghanaians by birth are born in different regions or outside Ghana. However, among the migrants, the regional capital district received the highest proportion (43.9 per cent).
Nadawli district is the second most attractive destination, accounting for 20.6 per cent of the region’s migrant population. The Sissala district is the third most favoured destination, attracting 16.7 per cent of the migrants. The Lawra district has 10.4 per cent of the migrants. The Jirapa-Lambussie district is the least attractive destination of the migrants accounting for only 8.4 per cent.
The region shares a common border with the Northern Region and the Upper East Region. Data show that proximity of these two adjacent regions does not appear to be a significant pull factor for migration into the districts. Persons born in these two regions and in Upper West account for less than one out of every five migrants from outside the region (19.3%) compared to 27.8 per cent from Ashanti.
Almost seventy four per cent of the migrants (73.5 per cent) come from the southern sector of the country and about a third of them from Ashanti. Migrants from other Ecowas countries, other Africa countries and from outside Africa, make up 7.2 per cent of all migrants to the region.
The distribution of the migrants from the other regions to the five districts. Migrants from the Ashanti Region are attracted to all the districts. They constitute 34.6 per cent of migrants in Nadawli, 28.7 per cent in Jirapa-Lambussie, 27.1 per cent in Lawra, 27.0 per cent in Wa. Sissala (20.9%) is relatively the least attractive to migrants from the Ashanti Region.
Migrants from Brong Ahafo (18.9%) are not particularly concentrated in any specific district, although they are unevenly spread in the districts; over a quarter (27.7%) in Lawra, about a fifth each in Jirapa-Lambussie (22.2%) and Nadawli (20.3%) and about the same proportion in Sissala (15.9%) and Wa (14.0%). Migrants from the Upper East Region are concentrated mainly in Sissala (21.3%), a border district and to a lesser extent in Wa (8.2%). Those from the Northern Region are mostly found in Wa (19.9%), Sissala (12.2%) and Jirapa-Lambussie (13.1%).
Migrants from the Western region are mainly in Nadawli (16.1%) and Lawra (9.7%) while those from the Greater Accra region are almost evenly distributed in all districts except Nadawli (3.8%). Generally, migrants from all the other regions are broadly spread in all the districts.
Population Distribution - Rural-Urban Composition
The region has 17.5 per cent of its total population living in urban localities and is second to the Upper East Region as the least urbanized. There are only six urban localities in the region, almost all located in the regional and district capitals.
Although the total urban population is still relatively small, the six urban centres have grown tremendously since 1970. Wa, the regional capital, is the most significant, having grown from 13,740 in 1970 through 36,067 in 1984 to 66,644 in 2000 (84.8% increase).
Tumu, the second largest town in the region, grew from 4,366 in 1970 to 6,014 in 1984 (37.8% increase) and to 8,858 in 2000 (47.3% increase). Jirapa also increased by 55.3 per cent from 3,520 in 1970 to 5,466 in 1984 and by 47.5 per cent to 8,060 in 2000. The population of Nandom which was 3,236 in 1970 increased to 4,336 in 1984 (34% increase) and again to 8,060 in 2000 (85.9% increase).
Lawra’s population of 2,709 in 1970 increased to 4,080 in 1984 (5.6% increase) and to 5,763 in 2000 (41.3% increase). Hamile increased by 72.2 per cent from 2,526 in 1970 to 4,349 in 1984 and then by 20.6 per cent to 5,245 in 2000.
Wa is the most urbanised district in the region, accounting for about two-thirds (65.8%) of the region’s total urban population. Over a tenth (13.2%) is in Jirapa- Lambussie and 12.2 per cent is in Lawra. Nearly a tenth (8.8%) is in Sissala. Nadawli is entirely rural.
All the six urban localities in the region are in four out of the five districts. The Wa District, which is 29.7 per cent urbanised, has only the capital Wa, as an urban locality. Jirapa-Lambussie has two urban localities, Jirapa (8.3%) and Hamile (5.4%). Lawra District also has two urban localities: Lawra (6.6%) and Nandom (7.4%).