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Matrilineal family ties and marital dissolution in Ghana
Authors: Takyi, B.K.
Source: Journal of Family Issues, Vol 28, Num 5, Page: 682-705
Topic(s): Family structure
Country: Africa
Published: APR 2007
Abstract: Although previous work has attributed the instability of African marriages to the diffusion of Western norms and values in the region, fewer attempts have been made to empirically assess how Africa's internal institutional structures, such as extended kinship ties, impact marital outcomes. Guided by rational choice and exchange theories, we argue that the strong bonds that exist among matrilineal family members in particular, rather than within the conjugal unit, may be important to understanding the dynamics of marital processes in the region, and particularly divorce processes. We test our hypothesis with data from the 1988, 1993, 1998, and 2003 Ghana Demographic and Health Surveys. Consistent with our hypothesis, the results indicate a significantly higher risk of divorce among matrilineal than nonmatrilineal women. The matrilineal effect persisted even after we controlled for sociocultural and demographic characteristics.