Developing Ghana’s care economy: case and potential


Start date: 1 April, 2020 End date: 31 March, 2025 Project type: Research projects in countries with extended development cooperation (earlier Window 1) Project code: 19-06-AU Countries: Ghana Thematic areas: Economic development and value chains, Gender equality, Health, Lead institution: Aarhus University (AU), Denmark Partner institutions: African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), Kenya University of Ghana (UG), Ghana Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Ulrika Enemark Total grant: 10,295,438 DKK

Project summary

Unpaid provision, mainly by women, of early childcare and long-term care (LTC) of frail older
people within their families is globally a major driver of gender inequality. The time poverty and negative health impacts associated with unpaid care provision undermine women’s opportunities for economic empowerment. Unpaid care arrangements also often imply poor care of dependent children or elderly.
Expansion of access to organized care has been shown to free women’s time to engage in training and work, and to expand their employment and enterprise opportunities. Organized care thus gives women the potential for economic empowerment and can lead to improved quality of care. Recognition of the likely benefits of expanded organized care systems for individuals, gender equality and sustainable development, encapsulated in SDG target 5.4, is fueling research, debate and action mainly in the global North, Asia and LatinAmerica. Yet, in sub-Saharan Africa(SSA), the evidence base and policy discourse on organized care and the potential for developing a care economy remain patchy.
We will address this gap with an incisive mixed-method study in Ghana to generatecomprehensive evidence on the normative underpinnings, lived experiences and costs of unpaid LTC. It will give us knowledge of present and future demands for organized care; and of the feasibility and viability of novel micro-enterprise models for LTC provision, and their cost-effectiveness. In so doing, the project aims to build junior researcher capacity at the highest level of quality.
The study team combines in-depth expertise in economics, social gerontology, gender and public health, which combined with our prior successful collaboration, we are positioned to deliver the above-mentioned outputs efficiently. Potential impacts of the findings are enhanced by the team’s established relationships with key Ghanaian and African policy players and by Ghana’s role model status within SSA. The timing of the project is in line with the SSA governments current focus on how best to achieve the SDGs and optimize labour market engagement of women and youth in order to reap a demographic dividend.


First year report
Many well-qualified candidates (34) responded to the open call for the position as PhD students. After a thorough selection process we recruited four candidates with background in psychology, public health, development economics and business. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 situation University of Ghana closed for enrolment of PhD students. The PhD students were therefore only engaged and enrolled in 2021.
The PhD students completed their coursework and comprehensive exams in the spring 2022. Supervisor groups involving a broader group of researchers at various departments at University of Ghana has been appointed.
A meeting with stakeholders in Ghana took place in November 2021. At this meeting the project was presented and the scope and relevance of work was discussed. Also, during a meeting of the PIs in Denmark, the PIs met with stakeholders in Denmark (e.g. NGOs & education institutions (VIA College) engaged in related activities related to care for the aged in Ghana.
Following a meeting in Ghana in February 2022, the details of the study design and data collection tools have been discussed in a series of online-workshops. The group is now preparing for collection of information from care recipients and care givers in three ecological zones through qualitative interviews and quantitative survey, covering such issues as norms in relation to roles in care of the aged, needs, care arrangements, quality of care, quality of life, costs of care and willingness-to-pay.

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