Does Job Security Affect Fertility and Fertility Intentions in Ghana? Examining the Evidence

Peer Reviewed
17 March 2021

Nkechi S. Owoo, Monica P. Lambon-Quayefio

The tradeoff that women face between work and family depends largely on a country’s institutional settings. Provisions like stable employment, maternity benefits, and childcare services can affect women’s fertility behaviours. In Ghana, the majority of women work in vulnerable self-employment positions. Among paid female employees, the degree of job security also varies. Largely studied in the developed country context, job insecurity has been found to have important effects on women’s reproductive health outcomes. As yet, there is no consensus on the direction of effects. The relationship has been argued to be largely country- and context- specific. This paper examines the nature of the relationship for a developing country, Ghana, where female labour force participation is high, paid employment is scarce, and there are few affordable childcare services. We use 2017 data from the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS) and empirical techniques to control for self-selectivity. Initially, we find evidence consistent with the compensation hypothesis, an uncertain work environment encourages higher fertility. This is because becoming a parent and having more children can be a way to make the future safer and more predictable. This explanation is particularly relevant for settings like Ghana where fertility is valued. The observed strong, negative relationship between job security and fertility is however found to be largely attributable to self-selection of women into particular jobs. Career-oriented women self-select into more secure jobs, and have fewer children, given the higher associated costs; and, characterized by lower pay, family-oriented women self-select into less secure but more flexible jobs, in order to care for their children. In the absence of government or institutional policies, women face a difficult choice between family and work aspirations. Polices and institutions should therefore be put in place to reduce these work-family challenges.


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Publication reference
Owoo, N. S., & Lambon-Quayefio, M. P. (2021). Does Job Security Affect Fertility and Fertility Intentions in Ghana? Examining the Evidence. Journal of Family and Economic Issues. doi:10.1007/s10834-021-09758-4
Publication | 26 May 2021