Ethiopia's first and only national census, conducted in
1984, put the population at 42 million, which made Ethiopia
the third most populous country in Africa, after Egypt and
Nigeria. The census also showed that by l994 Ethiopia's
population would reach 56 million. According to
(see Glossary) projections, Ethiopia will have a population
of 66 million by the year 2000 (other estimates suggested
that the population would be more than 67 million).
The l984 census indicated that 46.6 percent of the
population consisted of children under fifteen years of age,
which indicated a relatively high rate of dependence on the
working population for education, health, and social
services. Such a high dependency rate often is
characteristic of a country in transition from a subsistence
to a monetized economy. Because of limited investment
resources in the modern sector, not all the working-age
population can be absorbed, with the result that
unemployment can become a growing social and economic
problem for an economy in transition.
The l988/89 economically active labor force was estimated
to be 2l million, of which l9.3 million were in rural areas
and l.7 million in urban areas. Estimates of the labor
force's annual growth ranged from 1.8 to 2.9 percent.
The labor force's occupational distribution showed that in
l990 some 80 percent of the labor force worked in
agriculture, 8 percent in industry, and l2 percent in
services. These figures had changed slightly from the 1965
figures of 86, 5, and 9 percent, respectively. Thus, while
agriculture's proportionate share of the labor force fell,
the other two sectors gained. This trend reflects a
modernizing society that is diversifying its economy by
expanding secondary and tertiary sectors.
Data as of 1991