Gender Roles, Work and Structural Transformation in a Patriarchal Society: Evidence from a Household Panel Survey on Ghana

Andrew Agyei-Holmes, Nana Amma Asante-Poku, and Richmond Atta-Ankomah

Small Research Grant

Ghana’s economy is currently undergoing a shift in output and employment from agriculture to services. Within this movement of labour activity at the broad sectoral level is an equally important reallocation of labour activity between the household and market sectors. The marketisation of household production during the process of structural transformation is crucial for the reallocation of female labour resources from the household sector to other sectors. However, this process can be challenged by economic, social and institutional arrangements that govern gender roles. This project examines to what extent sectoral reallocation of labour has been accompanied by household to market reallocation and how significant a role gender has played in this process.

The project uses three waves of the nationally representative Ghana Socioeconomic Panel Surveys, which covers about 5000 households in 2010, 2014, and 2018. The three waves of the survey permit analysis of three potential transition periods, 2010-14, 2014-18, and 2010-2018 across three major activity areas (unpaid housework, household farm/non-farm activity, and paid employment). The researchers first explore the transitions and extent of mobility for the whole sample and disaggregated by gender, social, institutional, spatial, and economic factors. More robust inferential analytical models are then adopted to understand how these factors drive households’ transitions across activity areas, as well as to what extent they determine time spent on housework.

Understanding the dynamics of household resource allocation will provide the basis for developing robust policies to maximise the gains from structural change. Indeed, the process of structural change can fail to alleviate, or even deepen existing gender and spatial inequalities. Structural transformation by itself will not necessarily lead to equitable societies unless addressing inequalities (such as gender inequality in time spent on housework) is recognised as a key aim. The proposed study will lead to findings that will speak to policy on these issues, particularly in the context of Ghana, but also with relevance to other low-income countries in which household work comprises a significant proportion of labour resources.

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