The Impacts of Gender Attitudes and Socio-Economic Determinants on Ideal Fertility: A Study among Young Men in Ghana
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Introduction Fertility is one of most important factors of demographic studies; alarming Total Fertility Rate (TFR) threatens developing indicators in many ways. Gender equality, child and infant mortality, achieving of universal education, higher incidence of AIDS/HIV and environmental sustainability are few of them. Ghana has experienced a greater decline in fertility rate than any other country in West Africa, and drawn special interest of policy-makers and demographers. Even though Ghana has a rapid decline in fertility, it still needs a high attention, due to the mismatched causality between fertility decline and fertility theories. However, the low rate of fertility in Ghana has not contributed to slower population growth due to the “demographic deficit”, and the age structure shows population momentum. This phenomenon has hit the Ghanaian economy very severely and may subject a society to potentially disruptive, political and social movements due to an increased burden on higher education, proper housing, the labor market pressure and sexual health. Many studies have been carried out in Ghana in order to confirm the most efficient methods to control fertility rates. Of all contributing factors, men’s dominance plays the vital role in family planning. However, little explored are the ways in which men’s dominance in fertility decisions is associated with Socio- Economic (SEC) factors and gender attitudes. If family planing agendas are to succeed, they should recognize the male role and and its power. Understanding of the SEC characteristics and gender roles of future potential parents (young men) who have the fertility aspirations of the ideal number of children is essential, as it would help in achieving expected TFR in Ghana. Research Objectives& Research Questions The study had two research questions. 1. What are the determinants of low fertility ideals among young men in Ghana?2 .What is the association between characteristics of young men in Ghana in describing potentially related fertility aspirations and how well they are associated with ideal family size?. In order to answer the research questions, the three research objectives were established. (1).To assess the (SEC) determinants of positive deviants) , (2) To assess the gender attitudes of the positive deviants, and (3) To examine the value of the characteristics of young men in Ghana in describing potentially related fertility aspirations and test how well they are associated with ideal family size. When considering fertility ideals in Ghana, positive deviants can be defined as young men who have no children yet whose fertility ideals are between 1 and 3 children. The rationale for selecting young men is that they have the potential to define gender roles and they are potential parents. Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks This study adapted the Positive Deviance (PD) approach in order to answer research questions 1 and 2 and adapted the T-D-I-B (Traits-Desires-Intentions-Behaviors) model that was developed by W.B. Miller (1992; 2011, 2012 ) based on Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) in order to address the third research question. This study referred to the dependent variable as men’s fertility intention, while recognizing that it includes elements of both desires and intentions. Among the many factors affecting fertility outcomes, this study concentrated on two main background characteristics, i.e. (1) gender attitudes and (2) SEC factors. Methodology This study employed the PD approach for identifying the gender and SEC determinants of the positive deviants. Logistic regression was performed to assess the impact of a number of factors on two types of fertility ideals of young men (referred to as positive and non-positive deviants). The model contained 13 independent variables divided into two main groups (Gender attitude and SEC determinants; educational achievement, age, working status, occupational group, religion, marital status, wealth index, ethnicity, region, position in the household, sex of the household head and type of place of residence. Analysis was performed using SPSS logistic version 23. This study used secondary data from the latest GDHS in 2014 that comprises a wide range of variables and a larger sample size that helped generalization of the results. Findings and Discussion The majority of the positive deviants were young, urban residents, lived in Greater Accra, had Pentecostal charismatic religious affiliations, and had Akan ethnicity. They had partially or fully completed secondary level or higher education, belonged to richer households (not the richest), had never been married or entered into union, lived in a household with a male household head, and were usually the son of the family. Most were working in a comparatively high status and skilled job in the agricultural sector. Most importantly, the vast majority never justified wife beating; in other words, they never accepted intimate partner violence (IPV) for any reason. The final model containing all predictors was statistically significant, χ2 (16, N = 1391) = 219.77, p < .001, (95%) indicating that the model was able to distinguish between respondents who were positive and non-positive deviants. The model as a whole explained between 14.6% (Cox and Snell R square) and 20.2% (Nagelkerke R squared) of the variance in fertility ideals and, correctly classified 65.3% of cases, all predictors were significant; therefore, the study was able to reject the null hypothesis. Conclusions The research revealed that gender attitude, wealth index, region, religion, positions in the household, sex of the household head, and level of education were statistically significantly associated to fertility ideals. The other predictors of fertility ideals that were not statistically significant were: respondent’s age, working status, occupational group, type of place of residence, ethnicity, and marital status, not included in the final model. The variance explained by the statistical model was mostly significant. Although the seven aforementioned predictors were significant, they do not reveal much about what differentiates fertility ideals among young men in Ghana. This thesis supported the results from prior literature that fertility intentions are associated with the ideal family size. Ghanaian demographers and policy makers must address gender attitudes of the young population and characteristics of the positive deviants if they wish to reduce fertility rates in Ghana. Key Words: Ideal Fertility, Positive Deviance, Gender Attitude, Intimate Partner Violence, Ghana, Socio–Economic Determinants, Young men, Family Planning.