Marriage and subjective wellbeing in Ghana

  • Isaac Addai
  • Chris Opoku-Agyeman
  • Sarah K Amanfu
Keywords: Gender, Ghana, happiness, life satisfaction, marriage, subjective wellbeing


This study uses individual-level data from the 2005–2008 Ghana World Values Survey (n=1 533), to explore the extent to which marriage is associated with subjective well-being (SWB) in Ghana. The analyses are carried out at three levels: the first part presents the distribution of well-being measures (happiness and life satisfaction) among Ghanaians; the second uses the chi-square technique to assess the relationship between marital status and well-being measures by gender; the third probes the relative influence of marriage on happiness and life satisfaction, paying attention to the moderating effect of gender (included as an interaction term). The main finding is that marriage has a negative association with subjective well-being among Ghanaians. The multivariate results confirm that marriage undermines happiness and life satisfaction among Ghanaians. However, the effect is only statistically significant on happiness. The marriage and gender interaction term does not have a statistically significant effect on either happiness or life satisfaction. In addition, upon introduction of the interaction term into the  happiness regression model, the significant negative effect of marriage on  happiness changes to positive. An attempt is made to explain these findings, paying attention to the economic and socio-cultural context in which marriages occur in Ghana. Weaknesses, policy implications, and future direction for research are  discussed.

Keywords: Gender, Ghana, happiness, life satisfaction, marriage, subjective wellbeing


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2042-1478