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Jutta Bolt

PhD Lund University Social science Year of admission: 2016

How has the size of Africa’s population changed?
According to some estimates, Africa’s population will quadruple within 50-85 years. However, these predictions are only based on current trends; there is limited knowledge about population trends before the 1950s. Using information from missionary archives, Jutta Bolt will identify factors that have had an historic influence on Africa’s population.

When life expectancy increased in Asia and Latin America, this change was rapidly followed by a reduction in the number of births. Population growth thus slowed. Instead, in Africa, the population is exploding. Mortality has declined, but there are still very many children being born. Why is this trend different in Africa? Has having many children always been the norm for this continent? Or could it be a reaction to colonialism, for example?

To make more exact predictions of Africa’s future population patterns, it is necessary to have better knowledge of what they were like historically. Dr. Jutta Bolt from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, will go through old missionary archives to find out how Africa’s population has been influenced by drought, starvation, epidemics and colonialism. These missionary reports often include information about the numbers of births and deaths and the crises the population has been exposed to, which will provide valuable knowledge about the inhabitants’ history.

As a Wallenberg Academy Fellow, Jutta Bolt will work at Lund University.

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Read more about Jutta Bolt at rug.nl

Photo: Markus Marcetic