Here We Are: Polygamous Marriages, Social Standing of Women and Child Survival in Kassena-Nankana District of Ghana

Maya Nicole Vaughan-Smith, Princeton University
Philip B. Adongo, Navrongo Health Research Centre
J. Koku Awoonor-Williams, Ghana Health Service
Cornelius Y. Debpuur, Navrongo Health Research Centre
Ayaga A. Bawah, INDEPTH Network

The objective of this paper is to analyze the life narratives of women’s marital relationships within the context of social change, the sharing of household resources and participation in the local health economy. Previous research has shown that children of polygamous co-wives have differential health outcomes and well-being (Slonim-Nevo and Al-Krenawi 2006, Hinks 2008, Caldwell, Caldwell and Orubuloye 1992). However, other research has found that most of the difference in child health outcomes is due to other factors such as mother's education, religious practices, age gap between male and female spouses and other socio-economic indicators that are common to polygamous unions and not primarily due to marital composition itself (Hogan 1999, Gibson and Mace 2007, Peterson 1999). This paper incorporates demographic analysis and anthropological methods to further explore the changing social contexts of marriage, a woman's social standing and the child survival rate of her children.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 86: Determinants of Child Survival in Africa