Childbearing Behavior Before and After the 1994 Population Policies in Ghana
Due to the high population growth rate in the mid-20th century, the government of Ghana introduced population policies to reduce the growth rate. Encouraging girls’ education and increasing contraceptive use were the two main policy measures to reduce population growth. In order to get a clear picture of the childbearing dynamics of Ghanaian women in response to the population policy of 1994, we analyzed individual reproductive histories from 1969 to 2003 using 2003 Ghana Demographic Health survey data to disentangle patterns by parity, calendar period, and educational groups. Exponential hazard regression models were used to estimate the relative risk of births. We find some evidence of a critical juncture in fertility trends, particularly for the fifth child. In addition, higher parity transition rates continuously declined for women with secondary or higher education and these educational levels were achieved by a higher share of the population after the policy was implemented. The 1994 population policy was successful if only by virtue of the increasing number of women with secondary or higher education. Belonging to this group is not only associated with lower fertility, but this suppressing effect strengthened in the years following the policy implementation. We also suspect that the increasing similarity between women with no education and with primary education reflects the diffusion of contraceptive knowledge and norms related to childbearing. The educational reform and contraceptive initiatives did result in increased education and contraceptive awareness and are therefore beneficial programs.