Mixed methods exploration of Ghanaian women’s domestic work, childcare and effects on their mental health

Peer Reviewed
2 February 2021

Nkechi S. Owoo, Monica P. Lambon-Quayefio

This research paper aims to understand the effects of time spent in domestic work, including childcare, on women’s mental health in Ghana. The paper adopted a triangulation convergence mixed methods approach. The quantitative information was sourced from two waves (2009/ 2014) of the Ghana Socioeconomic Panel Survey (GSEPS) while qualitative information was obtained from in-depth interviews with couples and key informants from five (5) regions, representing diverse ethnic backgrounds, in Ghana. Employing fixed effects regressions and a multinomial logistic regression model with fixed effects, we find that domestic work contributes to poorer mental health outcomes among women. These results are consistent, even when we correct for potential self-selectivity of women into domestic work. We also examine whether the relationship is differentiated between women of higher and lower socioeconomic status. We find that women from wealthier households who spend increasing time in domestic work have higher odds of mental distress. These results are supported by the qualitative data- women indicate increasing stress levels from domestic work and while some husbands acknowledge the situation of their overburdened wives and make attempts, however minor, to help, others cite social norms and cultural expectations that act as a deterrent to men’s assistance with domestic work. Efforts should be made to lessen the effects of social and cultural norms which continue to encourage gendered distributions of domestic work. This may be done through increased education, sensitization and general re-socialization of both men and women about the need for more egalitarian divisions of household work.


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Publication reference
Owoo, N. S., & Lambon-Quayefio, M. P. (2021). Mixed methods exploration of Ghanaian women’s domestic work, childcare and effects on their mental health. PLOS ONE, 16(2), e0245059. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0245059
Publication | 26 May 2021