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Difficulties Conceiving and Relationship Stability in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Ghana

Abstract

Little is known about the relationship between self-identified difficulties conceiving, biomedical infertility, and union instability in Sub-Saharan Africa. Previous research suggests that infertility increases the risk of psychological distress and marital conflict, encourages risky sexual behaviour, and deprives infertile individuals and couples of an important source of economic and social capital. Qualitative research has suggested that there may be a link between infertility and divorce; less is known about the implications of infertility for unmarried couples. In this paper, discrete-time hazard models are applied to 8 waves of secondary panel data from Ghana collected by the Population Council of New York and the University of Cape Coast (pooled n = 10,418) between 1998 and 2004. Results show a positive relationship between perceived difficulties conceiving and relationship instability for both married women and those in non-marital sexual unions; this relationship, however, does not hold for biomedical infertility. Future research should examine this relationship using nationally representative data in a cross-national comparison to determine whether results hold across the subcontinent.

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Correspondence to Jasmine Fledderjohann.

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Fledderjohann, J. Difficulties Conceiving and Relationship Stability in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Ghana. Eur J Population 33, 129–152 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10680-016-9401-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10680-016-9401-5

Keywords

  • Infertility
  • Relationship stability
  • Ghana
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Event history analysis
  • Divorce