Volume 39 - Article 44 | Pages 1181–1226  

Contemporary female migration in Ghana: Analyses of the 2000 and 2010 Censuses

By Samantha R. Lattof, Philomena Nyarko, Ernestina Coast, Tiziana Leone


Background: Knowledge of female migration patterns is scant despite increased recognition and reporting of the feminization of migration. Recent data on female internal migration in Ghana challenges historical assumptions that underestimated female migration.

Objective: This study presents the first detailed comparative analyses of female migration using microdata from Ghana’s censuses (2000 and 2010) and exploits this national data to understand the gendered dimensions of migration.

Methods: Secondary analyses use direct and indirect methods to describe the scale, type, and demographic structure of contemporary female migration; assess the distribution of female migrants across age and geography; and estimate net internal female migration.

Results: Excluding international migrants, census microdata identified 31.1% of females as internal migrants in 2000 and 37.4% of females as internal migrants in 2010. Working-age migration was particularly pronounced in 2010, reinforcing economic opportunity as a likely driver of migration for both sexes. Female migrants were significantly more likely than female nonmigrants to reside in urban areas and work for pay, profit, or family gain. By 2010, married women were less likely to migrate than peers who had never married. Net out-migration exceeded net in-migration in eight of Ghana’s ten regions.

Contribution: Our analyses expand the evidence base on contemporary female migration and refute the outdated stereotype that girls and women do not participate in migration. The prominence of the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions as destinations for female migrants suggests that interventions are needed in Ghana’s more rural regions to reduce poverty and develop greater economic opportunities for girls and women.

Author's Affiliation

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