Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Gender Disparities in Living Arrangements of Older People in Ghana: Evidence from the 2003 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Gender Disparities in Living Arrangements of Older People in Ghana: Evidence from the 2003 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey

Article excerpt

Abstract

In this study, the living arrangements of persons aged 60 years and older in Ghana are examined. The data for the study emanate from the household roster component of the most recent nationally representative sample survey, the 2003 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey. The focus is on socio-economic and demographic characteristics, as well as coresidential patterns, of the elderly persons. Additionally, use is made of the 1960-2000 census results of Ghana in order to through light on the emerging phenomenon of population ageing in the country. The results show that the proportion of persons aged 60 years or older in Ghana has consistently risen from 5.2 percent in 1960 to 7.2 percent in 2000, representing 38 percent increase, while the number rose from 457,067 in 1960 to 1,367,343 in 2000, representing about 200 percent increase over the period. Differences by sex are marginal. Also, older adults in Ghana live in a variety of household arrangements. The elderly men are more likely to be living in nuclear households, while older women are more likely to be living in extended family households. Logistic regression analyses indicate that determinants of living with adult children and grandchildren differ by sex. A combination of fertility decline, migration, and urbanization puts the older women in a disadvantaged position since there are fewer adult children available to provide support and care, and there is no universal non-familial social security system. It can be argued that knowledge about the types of households in which older women live is a first step to understanding their needs in a part of the world with limited resources such as Ghana.

Keywords: ageing, elderly, Ghana, older men, women

Introduction

The numerical growth of elderly persons around the world is an eloquent testimony not only of reductions in fertility but also of reductions in infant and maternal mortality, improved nutrition, reduction in infectious and parasitic diseases, as well as improvement in health care, education and income. Global total fertility rate has declined from 5.0 live births per woman in 1950-1955 to 2.7 live births per woman in 2000-2005, and is expected to further reduce to replacement level, that is 2.2 live births per woman by 2045-2050 period (United Nations, 2005). Also life expectancy has increased from 46.5 years in 1950.1955 to 66.0 years in 2000-2005, and is expected to rise to 76 years by the 2045-2050. In sub-Saharan Africa, the corresponding fertility values are 6.7 live births per woman in the early 1950s to 5.5 live births per woman by early 2000s and 2.4 live births per woman by 2045-2050 period. Similarly, expectation of life at birth rose from 36.7 years in the 1950s to 48.4 years by 2000-2005, and is projected to peak at 68.4 years during the 2045-2050 period. Ghana's fertility and mortality profile is similar to that of sub-Saharan Africa. This is because fertility fell from 5.8 to 4.5 live births per woman in one half century, and is expected to fall to replacement level during 2045-2050 period while life expectancy increased from 38.5 to 40.2 years in five decades, and is expected to reach 65.1 years by 2045-2050 period (United Nations, 2005).

With rapid socioeconomic development, urbanization and industrialization, the traditional extended family system is gradually changing towards a nuclear family system in which some elderly family members are being left on their own.

Of particular interest and concern should be the status of the elderly persons in the African region and the ways in which this may be changing with modernization. Generally, there has been some contention in the literature that the status of the older population diminishes with increasing modernization. (Cowgill, 1986; Levy, 1966). However, little research has been conducted in the region either to lend credence to the idea of a decline in status of the elderly in so far as this is reflected in respect, authority and economic role or to refute it. …

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