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Why Would She? Polygyny and Women's Welfare in Ghana
Authors: Amy Ickowitz and Lisa Mohanty
Source: Feminist Economics, 21(2): 77-104, DOI:10.1080/13545701.2014.992931
Topic(s): Marriage
Women's status
Country: Africa
Published: FEB 2015
Abstract: This study examines whether polygynous marriages are beneficial to women in Ghana. While some scholars claim that women benefit from such marriages in terms of higher consumption or leisure time, others believe that such relationships can be oppressive for women, as compared to monogamous relationships. Using household data from the 2005/6 Ghanaian Living Standards Measurement Survey V and the 2008 Ghanaian Demographic Health Survey, this study finds little evidence to support the view that women experience economic benefits from these unions. Polygynous women in Ghana tend to be more accepting of and experience more domestic violence, and they have less decision-making power within the household than women in monogamous marriages. Thus, there seems to be more evidence to support the view of polygyny as an oppressive institution rather than the outcome of a woman's rational choice.