Madagascar: People & Society#

Population24,430,325 (July 2016 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Malagasy (singular and plural)
adjective: Malagasy
Ethnic groupsMalayo-Indonesian (Merina and related Betsileo), Cotiers (mixed African, Malayo-Indonesian, and Arab ancestry - Betsimisaraka, Tsimihety, Antaisaka, Sakalava), French, Indian, Creole, Comoran
LanguagesFrench (official), Malagasy (official), English
ReligionsChristian, indigenous believer, Muslim
note: population largely practices Christianity or an indigenous religion; small share of population is Muslim
Demographic profileMadagascar’s youthful population – just over 60% are under the age of 25 – and high total fertility rate of more than 4 children per women ensures that the Malagasy population will continue its rapid growth trajectory for the foreseeable future. The population is predominantly rural and poor; chronic malnutrition is prevalent, and large families are the norm. Many young Malagasy girls are withdrawn from school, marry early (often pressured to do so by their parents), and soon begin having children. Early childbearing, coupled with Madagascar’s widespread poverty and lack of access to skilled health care providers during delivery, increases the risk of death and serious health problems for young mothers and their babies. Child marriage perpetuates gender inequality and is prevalent among the poor, the uneducated, and rural households – as of 2013, of Malagasy women aged 20 to 24, more than 40% were married and more than a third had given birth by the age of 18. Although the legal age for marriage is 18, parental consent is often given for earlier marriages or the law is flouted, especially in rural areas that make up nearly 65% of the country. Forms of arranged marriage whereby young girls are married to older men in exchange for oxen or money are traditional. If a union does not work out, a girl can be placed in another marriage, but the dowry paid to her family diminishes with each unsuccessful marriage. Madagascar’s population consists of 18 main ethnic groups, all of whom speak the same Malagasy language. Most Malagasy are multi-ethnic, however, reflecting the island’s diversity of settlers and historical contacts (see Background). Madagascar’s legacy of hierarchical societies practicing domestic slavery (most notably the Merina Kingdom of the 16th to the 19th century) is evident today in persistent class tension, with some ethnic groups maintaining a caste system. Slave descendants are vulnerable to unequal access to education and jobs, despite Madagascar’s constitutional guarantee of free compulsory primary education and its being party to several international conventions on human rights. Historical distinctions also remain between central highlanders and coastal people.
Age structure0-14 years: 40.17% (male 4,947,260/female 4,865,379)
15-24 years: 20.44% (male 2,503,395/female 2,489,482)
25-54 years: 31.83% (male 3,889,063/female 3,887,633)
55-64 years: 4.31% (male 511,336/female 540,868)
65 years and over: 3.26% (male 360,520/female 435,389) (2016 est.)
Dependency ratiostotal dependency ratio: 80.3%
youth dependency ratio: 75.2%
elderly dependency ratio: 5.1%
potential support ratio: 19.5% (2015 est.)
Median agetotal: 19.5 years
male: 19.3 years
female: 19.7 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate2.54% (2016 est.)
Birth rate32.1 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate6.7 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Urbanizationurban population: 35.1% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 4.69% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major urban areas - populationANTANANARIVO (capital) 2.61 million (2015)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Mother's mean age at first birth19.5
note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2008/09 est.)
Maternal mortality rate353 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 42.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 46.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 38.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 65.9 years
male: 64.4 years
female: 67.4 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate4.12 children born/woman (2016 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate39.9% (2008/09)
Health expenditures3% of GDP (2014)
Physicians density0.16 physicians/1,000 population (2007)
Hospital bed density0.2 beds/1,000 population (2010)
Drinking water sourceimproved:
urban: 81.6% of population
rural: 35.3% of population
total: 51.5% of population
urban: 18.4% of population
rural: 64.7% of population
total: 48.5% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility accessimproved:
urban: 18% of population
rural: 8.7% of population
total: 12% of population
urban: 82% of population
rural: 91.3% of population
total: 88% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.36% (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS47,900 (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths3,200 (2015 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies (2016)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate4.6% (2014)
Education expenditures2.1% of GDP (2013)
Literacydefinition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 64.7%
male: 66.7%
female: 62.6% (2015 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2012)
Child labor - children ages 5-14total number: 1,827,423
percentage: 28%

note: data represent children ages 5-17 (2007 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24total: 2.6%
male: 2.2%
female: 3% (2012 est.)