AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY:
INSIGHTS FROM GHANA
ON SUSTAINABLE POLICIES
Michael J. WHITE
Catherine S. ANDRZEJEWSKI
Department of Sociology, Brown University, USA
Department of Geography, University of Cape Coast, Ghana
Scott W. NIXON
Betty A. BUCKLEY
Stephen L. GRANGER
Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, USA
Holly E. REED
Department of Sociology, Queens College,
and CUNY Institute for Demographic Research, City University of New York, USA
This paper examines the relationships among population dynamics, environment and economic development. We focus particularly on urbanization, whose impact is often characterized as strongly negative. We first examine the broad conceptual issues of population, urbanization, and environment, providing demographic insight to the understanding of the
MICHAEL J. WHITE ET AL.
role of urban growth and urbanization in developing countries today (juxtaposed with the historical experience of industrialized countries). Then, drawing on results using primary data collected in coastal Ghana between 2002 and 2004, we introduce findings from several components of our interdisciplinary population-environment research. These include the influence of urbanization on coastal lagoon nutrient content; the role of urbanization in fertility change; and the determinants of environmental attitudes. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our findings for both a more nuanced understanding of population-environment links, as well as shifts in public policies and programs, particularly policies aimed at migration, urban growth and urbanization.
Key words: Urbanization; Environmental quality; Population and migration; Sustainable policies; Ghana.
Despite the evident and continuing interest in population-environment links, the direct interplay of human population dynamics and environmental change is difficult to identify and even more difficult to quantify. On one hand, the argument is frequently voiced that “population” – usually aggregate human population growth – has a substantial (and adverse) effect on environmental quality. On the other hand, some dispute overall claims of the degree of anthropogenic impacts on the environment.
In this paper, we attempt to offer some thoughts about demographic and social dynamics and environmental outcomes. We first provide some general observations about population-environment relationships and then turn to more focused sociological and demographic insights from our own field research in coastal Ghana. While our argument is general, it is underpinned by our empirical research in coastal Ghana, where, in collaboration with an interdisciplinary set of colleagues, we have been examining water quality conditions in selected coastal lagoons, household drinking water quality, and surveying human socio-demographic behavior.
In this paper, we pay particular attention to the role of urbanization in demographic and environmental change. We present empirical findings on the relationship between urbanization and fertility in Ghana, the human impact on nutrient contents of coastal lagoons in Ghana, as well as Ghanaians’ environmental awareness and attitudes.
URBANIZATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY…
We augment the discussion with a concern for measuring and understanding the determinants of human behavior, in this case, behavior that has consequences for the natural environment.
As the pace of urban growth accelerates in developing...