Contextual Influences on Family Role Transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Ghana
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This dissertation explores the cultural and socioeconomic factors that influence adult role transitions in Ghana. Guided by a life course theoretical framework, and using a nationally representative survey (2003-2008 Ghana Demographic and Health Surveys), I estimate accelerated failure-time (AFT) log-normal models that control for the potential effects of unobserved heterogeneity due to the possible omission of certain relevant covariates. The models reveal that when the most optimal hazard distribution function is specified in an event history model, the problem of unobserved heterogeneity becomes significantly reduced. Results from both non-parametric and parametric models suggest a convergence in marriage and parenthood timing among contemporary young women and young men in Ghana compared with their older cohort, highlighting the salience of sociocultural timing on individuals’ life course decisions. The study also utilizes qualitative data from 30 in-depth interviews conducted in Aburi in the Eastern Region of Ghana, during the summer of 2010. The qualitative approach complements the survey methods by uncovering the influential role of the religious institution, a growing sense of individualism, as well as an emerging consumerist culture on family formation decisions in Ghana. Overall, the findings from this study indicate that the spread of information technology in the rapidly globalizing world has had differential effects on two birth cohorts in Ghana.