Patriarchal norms, partner pronatalism, and women’s fertility intentions in Ghana

Nkechi S. Owoo


Social norms influence many dimensions of women’s lives and women’s assumptions about male partners’ pronatalism can have important associations with fertility behaviours. Using data on married/cohabiting women from the 2018/19 Ghana Socioeconomic Panel Survey and a series of robust descriptive analyses and logistic regression models, the links between women’s internalization of patriarchal norms, presumed male partner pronatalism and fertility intentions are explored. The characteristics of conservative and liberal women are also examined. Logistic regressions show that greater internalization of patriarchal norms is associated with higher odds of women wanting more children- male children, particularly. Additionally, women’s perceptions of their partners’ fertility preferences were important- women who assumed that their male partners wanted more children tended to have stronger immediate pronatalist intentions themselves. Descriptive analyses show that conservative women, with greater internalized patriarchal norms, are more pronatalist, less educated, resident in rural parts of the country and more likely to be from poorer households, compared to their more liberal counterparts. Findings encourage the tailoring and targeting of family planning messages along cultural lines, to influence women’s fertility intentions. Additionally, the importance of effective spousal communication is highlighted. Findings also emphasise the importance of involving men in the implementation of family planning programs. (Afr J Reprod Health 2023; 27 [2]: 76-86).

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