David A. (1989) Developmental Stage Age Groups and African Population
Structure: The Kusasi of the West African Savanna. American Anthropologist
AS PDF FILE.
African population structures based on censuses exhibit a distinctive
pattern of distortion. It is often assumed that the cause for this distortion
is systematic biases in age estimates by census enumerators and respondents
influenced by perceptions of social and biological development. African
developmental stage age groups are the cultural codification of such perceptions.
I describe developmental stage groups among the Kusasi of Bawku District
in northeast Ghana, and analyze their age and sex structure for a sample
of 1,132 individuals from the village of Zorse. I show that differences
between men and women reflect differences in biological and social development,
and that cultural concepts of developmental stages could influence age
estimates to produce the pattern of distortions typical of those found
in African population structures based on censuses. This is supported
by a comparison of Bawku District population structure based on the Ghana
census and an ethnographic sample census in Zorse which eliminated most
age estimate biases.