Inferring gender-power: women’s schooling and relative spousal influence in childbearing in Ghana

Laurie F. Derose, Lijuan Wu, F. Nii-Amoo Dodoo



Our analysis of data on married couples from the 1988-2003 Ghana Demographic and Health Surveys demonstrates men's influence in childbearing decisions increased during a time when women's education was on the rise. This time period marked the beginning of a rapid fertility decline in Ghana, but while women’s education remained a significant predictor of contraceptive use, education became significantly less important while men’s fertility preferences became significantly more important. The findings suggest that traditional cultures of marriage in sub-Saharan Africa that endorse men’s authority in reproductive decision-making will probably not be easily overcome by higher levels of women’s education.


Laurie F. DEROSE, Research Assistant Professor, Maryland Population Research Center, University of Maryland, 0124N Cole Student Activities Building (#162), College Park, MD 20742-1315, USA. E-mail:

Lijuan WU, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China. E-mail:

F. Nii-Amoo DODOO, College of Liberal Arts Research Professor, The Pennsylvania State University, 211 Oswald Tower, University Park, PA 16802, USA and Professor and Director, Regional Institute for Population Studies University of Ghana P. O. Box LG 96, Legon, Ghana Africa. E-mail:


DOI: 10.4402/genus-211


autonomy; childbearing; education; gender; marriage; sub-Saharan Africa

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ISSN: 2035-5556

Reg. Tribunale di Roma n. 3321/54