The State of Urbanization, Demographic Changes, and Family Dynamics in Africa

Ahmed Aref, Angela Fallentine, Sarah Zahran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rapid urbanization and population growth in Africa, coupled with the complex interplay between changing demographics, have resulted in significant implications for families. Using secondary sources, this desk review explores macro-level population dynamics and demographic shifts surrounding family size, intergenerational solidarity, housing, care for the elderly, marital relationships, declining marriage rates, and rising divorce rates. It draws from the demographic transition theory to underscore the impact of social and cultural factors on fertility rates and family dynamics. This article further underscores the significance of these dynamics in the context of North African societies and the broader African continent, offering insights into the evolving role of families and their unique challenges. It then discusses the missed opportunities associated with the demographic dividend and youth bulge, and the measures necessary to unlock the region’s full potential for sustainable economic growth and social development. The article concludes with policy recommendations for strategic development planning, investments in human capital, rural development, and research to navigate the complex connections between urbanization, demographics, and family dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-297
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Comparative Family Studies
Issue number3
Early online date31 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2023


  • rapid urbanization
  • demography
  • population
  • fertility
  • families
  • North Africa
  • Demographic changes


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