Well-Being of Ghanaian Children

A Longitudinal Analysis of Well-Being of Ghanaian Children in Transnational Families
Well-Being of Ghanaian Children

Sub-Saharan Africa is a major exporter of labor migrants to the world. A significant number of these migrants originate from Ghana. Accurate figures on the number of Ghanaian migrants abroad are missing because of the lack of systematic data collection and also because of the illegal status of migrants overseas. By some estimates, the stock of Ghanaians who left the country for Western destinations had reached 825,000 by 2010, excluding undocumented migrants. By other estimates, a total of 1.5 million Ghanaians reside abroad in Europe, North America, other African countries (predominately in the Economic Community of West African States), the Middle East, and Asia. Many of these migrants are parents who, either by choice or due to strict migration regulations, leave their children in Ghana in the care of a family or a nonfamily member, thus creating transnational families.

This study is the first to employ panel data to examine well-being outcomes—self-rated health, happiness, life satisfaction, and school enjoyment—of children in transnational families in an African context. It analyzes data collected in 2013, 2014, and 2015 from secondary schoolchildren and youth (ages 12–21) in Ghana (N = 741). Results indicate that children with fathers, mothers, or both parents away and those cared for by a parent, a family, or a nonfamily member are equally or more likely to have higher levels of well-being as children in nonmigrant families. Yet, there are certain risk factors—being a female, living in a family affected by divorce or by a change in caregiver while parents migrate—that may decrease child well-being.

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