Project

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

This project has been retired

Small Research Grant

Ghana’s economy is structurally changing with a continuous shift of output and employment from agriculture to services, which has had some positive impact on poverty reduction in Ghana. Underpinning this trend is a sustained and relatively more stable growth regime in recent years which has helped move Ghana from low-income status to middle income status. In addition, available data generally shows a rise in labour force participation rate for women in recent years. Relating these trends in Ghana to the importance of the reallocation of labour from unpaid housework to market sectors in the process of structural change raises several research and policy questions, which have not been adequately addressed in the literature. Key among these question are how the changing structure of Ghana’s economy has been accompanied by a household reallocation of labour resources from unpaid household production to market or income-earning sectors and what the implications are for gender roles with regards to work?

The study largely draws on data from a nationally representative household panel survey covering a period of ten years, between 2009/10 and 2018/19. These data make it possible to measure and explore transitions in the areas of primary work in which individuals are engaged during three periods: between 2010 and 2014, 2014 and 2018, and 2010 and 2018. By comparing what happens in each of the first two transition periods to the longer transition period (i.e. 2010-2018), the research team are also able to determine the extent to which the transitions or mobility (e.g. from unpaid housework to other sectors) are time dependent.  Additionally, they use time spent on unpaid housework within each transition period to learn about the extent to which households are shifting household production to the market sector over time. They use descriptive statistical tools such as transition matrices (and coefficients) alongside several discrete choice models to analyse the data.

The policy relevance of the project is three-fold. First, an understanding about allocation of resources between unpaid housework and paid employment dynamics broadened can inform economic growth policies. Second, the gender focus of the work can lead to findings that will speak to policy on gender issues associated with structural change and help address challenges faced by vulnerable groups through policy. Third, given that structural transformation is an important anchor of the African Union’s agenda 2063, insights from the Ghanaian case and the policy implications could help similar African countries in terms of how economic growth could translate into decent jobs.

The key findings from the study generally point to a persistently gendered division of labour within households in Ghana with limited opportunities for females to transition from less productive or non-income earning activities to more productive or income-earning activities. The factors that drive the transitions may largely reflect entrenched patriarchal norms governing intra-household allocation of labour resources. The research team also find that there are significant gender and locality differences in time spent on housework. Females and rural dwellers spend more time on housework than males and urban dwellers respectively. Important drivers of time use for housework include the lag values of time use, whether the respondent is in paid employment, age of the respondent and the locality in which the household is found. Finally, the relationship between consumption poverty and time poverty at the household level was found to be generally negative, suggesting that households which spend more time on housework are not necessarily consumption poor.

Research Team

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