Age of household heads

Age helps to understand an individual’s personality make up, preferences, needs and their ability to make decisions, which are linked to a person’s experience, skills and knowledge to address challenges. This knowledge is also very important in contributing to household income and helping to improve the standard of living even of the poorest in society. The respondents of the study were asked to indicate their ages. For the purposes of analysis, the ages of the heads of households were divided into four categories, namely, 18-30 years, 31 45 years, 46-60 years and 61-75 years. Out of the 100 respondents, 98 of them responded to the question of what their ages were.

From their responses, 3% were aged 18-30 years, 45% were aged 31-45, 38% were aged 46-60 years and 11% were aged 61-75 years. Only 1% of the respondents were above 75 years. From the results, the economically productive ages (18-60) constitute 86% of the respondents. This means that majority of the respondents are economically active members of the population. Whether in job creation, education, health and other social services, these economically active members of the society are likely to take advantage of these opportunities to benefit themselves and other members of their households. The percentage of the respondents considered as economically inactive (61-75) are 11%. These people may not be able take advantage of job creation opportunities in the mining sector by themselves, but can, however, access other development opportunities the mining sector can bring, such as in the health sector.

Marital status of household heads

In traditional Ghanaian society, it is very unusual for men or women to decide to stay single throughout their life. Every person is expected to marry. The definition of marriage in the Ghanaian traditional society is clearly captured by Nukunya (2003, p. 43) who stated that ‘marriage is a union in which the couple has gone through the procedures recognised in the society for the purposes of sexual intercourse, raising of a family or companionship’. Marriage in Ghana is a union not just between the two spouses, but their families as well.

As a result, it is incumbent on members of both families to ensure that they support the couple in every way possible to have a successful marriage. These supports include economic support, socialising children born out of the wedlock and helping to resolve conflict that may arise between the couple.

The marital status of household heads is a crucial indicator that can be used to predict a wide range of socio-economic outcomes. All things being equal, if the two parents are present, they can provide favourable and acceptable conditions for the children and other members of the household, as the two can collectively or individually provide the psychological, socio-emotional and environmental materials needed by members of the family for their support and well-being. In view of this, the respondents were asked to indicate their marital statuses. The marital status of the respondents was divided into married, single, divorced, separated and widowed.

From the field data, 99 out of the 100 respondents expressed their opinions on this question. Out of this, 71% of them were married, 11% were single, 5% divorced, 7% separated and 5% widowed. Thus, 28% of the respondents are single household heads with the majority being married heads of households. This trend is in line with Ghana Statistical Service report (GSS, 2013, p. 84), which indicates that ‘currently married household heads constituted the largest proportion in both urban and rural areas’. The proportion of single heads of household is not very significant. Perhaps reasons for their singleness could be economic, such as lack of money to pay the bride price especially on the part of the males, or that they are waiting to meet their preferred partners. Consequently, the Ghanaian cultures insist on the payment of the bride price and the procedures for the marriage as essential elements in the marriage definition. As a result, some of the respondents may be labelled single when indeed they may be cohabiting with their partners. Some people choose cohabitation as a test drive for a relationship before marriage. A small percentage of them responded that they were divorced (5%). The low divorce rate could be as a result of the many marriages being contracted through strong customary and religious rites.

Types of marriage

Marriage types, roles and characteristics differ from culture to culture and are also dynamic over time. The study categorised marriages into three types, namely civil marriages, registered customary marriages and unregistered customary marriages. Out of the 100 respondents,

72 of them responded to their type of marriages. From the responses, registered customary marriages recorded the highest respondents with 36%, unregistered customary marriages recorded 25% with civil marriages recording 11%.

The field data indicates that majority of the respondents are married under the customary marriages (both registered and unregistered) constituting 61% of the respondents.

In many Ghanaian societies, customary elements have tended to precede modern types of marriages such as ordinance marriages in which the union is registered at the Registrar General’s Department or the office of a City Council, and Christian or church marriage in which the union is consecrated by a priest or minister of a church (Assimeng, 1999; Nukunya, 2003). This is so because, in Ghanaian culture, marriage is not just a union between individuals, but families, and the customary marriage provides the traditional platform for this purpose. Customary marriages are not legal unless registered, but are seen as conforming to society’s acknowledged standards. The nonrecognition of customary marriages can sometimes bring hardship to the children born out of such marriages, as they may be seen as illegitimate children. This is because wives from civil marriages are regarded as legitimate and sometimes are not given the same status as those from customary marriages. Civil and registered customary marriages enjoy the full protection of the law and are regarded as legal unions.

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