Developing Ghana’s care economy: case and potential

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.

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