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Ethnicity and fertility desires in Ghana


The extant literature shows that fertility desires are an important indicator for understanding and predicting the future course of fertility; however, little work has been done on its relationship to ethnicity among women in Ghana. Therefore, this study investigates the relationship between ethnicity and fertility desires among two groups of parous women in Ghana. Using 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey data, analyses were conducted with 5548 women between ages 15 and 49 years. Respondents were divided into two groups: 1) women with 1–3 living children (n = 3437), and 2) women with 4 or more children (n = 2111), representing those with children below and above the wanted fertility rate, respectively. Descriptive analyses indicated that 77.5% of women in the lower parity group desired an additional child, whereas 23.6% of women in the higher parity group had the same desires. Binary logistic regression results showed that ethnicity was a significant predictor of fertility desires among the two groups of women. Additionally, ethnicity remained significant when socio-economic factors were controlled for. The study’s findings refute the characteristics hypothesis, signifying that even though certain ethnic groups are assimilated into more modern socio-economic structures, they still maintain their pronatalistic beliefs. More specifically, Mole-Dagbani and “Other” women, who already have a high parity, are more likely to want an additional child. Further qualitative work is required to understand the norms, customs, practices, and beliefs that govern the major Ghanaian ethnic groups regarding their fertility desires and behaviour.

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Data availability

The 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey data are available at


  1. Patrilineal Akans are known to reside in Mampong, Eastern Region, however, they comprise a minority and tradition suggests that they derive roots from the Guans.

  2. Frequencies were run with the 577 undecided women and findings indicate them to be similar to the women used for the final analysis on key variables. Slight differences were seen with regards to the wealth of 1–3 parity women who had higher proportions in the middle and richer groups and a smaller proportion in the richest group. In addition, those with no partners were a slightly higher percentage for both groups of women.


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All authors contributed to the study conception. Data analysis was performed by the first author who also drafted the initial manuscript, which was adapted from his unpublished Master’s dissertation. All authors commented on and revised subsequent versions of the manuscript and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Adriana A. E. Biney.

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Akonor, N.O., Biney, A.A.E. Ethnicity and fertility desires in Ghana. J Pop Research 38, 283–306 (2021).

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