Childbearing and Economic Work: The Health Balance of Women in Accra, Ghana

Waterhouse, Philippa; Hill, Allan G. and Hinde, Andrew (2016). Childbearing and Economic Work: The Health Balance of Women in Accra, Ghana. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 20(2) pp. 408–421.



Objectives: This study aims to investigate (1) whether the health of working women with young children differs from that of working women without young children, and (2) which social factors mediate the relationship between economic and maternal role performance and health among mothers with young children. Methods: The analyses uses panel data from 697 women present in both waves of the Women's Health Study for Accra (WHSA-I and WHSA-II); a community based study of women aged 18 years and older in the Accra Metropolitan Area of Ghana conducted in 2003 and 2008-2009. Change in physical and mental health between the survey waves is compared between women with a biological child alive at WHSA-II and born since WHSA-I and women without a living biological child at WHSA-II born in the interval. To account for attrition between the two survey waves selection models were used with unconditional change score models being used as the outcome model. Results: We found in our sample of working women that those who had a child born between WHSA-I and WHSA-II who was still alive at WHSA-II did not experience a change in mental or physical health different from other women. Among working women with young children, educational status, relationship to the household head and household demography were associated with change in mental health at the 5 % level, whilst migration status and household demography was associated with change in physical health scores. Conclusion: The results suggest there are no health penalties of combining work and childbearing among women with young children in Accra, Ghana.

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