Population Research and Policy Review

, 28:455

First online:

Cohort Differences in Women’s Educational Attainment and the Transition to First Marriage in Ghana

  • Stephen Obeng GyimahAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Queen’s University Email author 

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This study explores the effects of educational attainment on the transition to first marriage across successive generations of women in Ghana. Considering the significant improvements in women educational attainment and career opportunities in recent decades, the paper questions the tacit assumption of prior research on the time-invariant effect of women’s educational attainment on marriage timing. Using discrete time frailty models with pooled data from the 1988, 1993, 1998 and 2003 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey, women with higher educational attainment were found to have longer transition to first marriage than their less educated counterparts. More importantly, the effect of higher education on the transition to first marriage was larger among younger women even after controlling for other factors. The stronger effect among contemporary women has been discussed in relation to ideational changes on family formation and the enhanced career opportunities for contemporary educated women.


Educational attainment Ghana Inter-generational/birth cohort Marriage timing Sub-Saharan Africa