The main focus and scope of the Western Africa node of ACEIR is to undertake key studies on inequality in Ghana. The research entails conducting rigorous analyses of the nature, patterns and dynamics of inequality and poverty in Ghana using existing census and panel survey data.

In view of these broad objectives, the node is currently undertaking three key studies which consist of a diagnostic study of inequality as well as two empirical research studies on inequality in Ghana. The diagnostic study will produce a report on inequality in Ghana by describing its dynamics and employing poverty maps to incorporate analyses of spatial inequalities in the Ghanaian context.

Using the two waves of the Ghana Socio-Economic Panel Survey, the two research papers seek to provide empirical evidence on various dimensions of inequality in Ghana. The first paper examines the micro-level determinants of economic inequality in Ghana while focusing on the differentiated effects of household attributes in inequality in rural and urban areas of the country. The second study seeks to investigate the relationship between economic inequalities and inequalities of opportunities in the context of Ghana. The study focuses particularly on the inequalities in educational opportunities and explores how this affects economic inequality.

The potential of the research

Ultimately, the ACEIR research in Ghana will enhance the process of policymaking for poverty and inequality reduction by providing an enhanced understanding of inequality in the country. The diagnostic report in particular will provide the documentation of the nature and patterns of inequality in Ghana that will allow stakeholders to appreciate Ghana’s inequality profile more comprehensively. Similarly, the two research studies will result in empirical evidence on the various dimensions of inequality. Findings from these studies will provide the required guidance for sound and effective policymaking towards tackling inequality in Ghana.

Beneficiaries of the research

Beyond other academic researchers who work in the area of poverty and inequality, particularly in developing countries, the outputs of this research target non-academic stakeholders in Ghana. Direct beneficiaries include policymakers at all levels of government, such as the Ministry of Finance and its related agencies. The Ghana Statistical Service also stands to benefit as ACEIR’s work highlights the data needs for robust empirical analyses of inequality and related dynamics in Ghana. To ensure effective targeting of programmes aimed at reducing poverty and inequality in Ghana, development partners may also rely on the research findings for decision-making.

Research links to the SDGs

The current research agenda of the Western Africa node is closely aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 4 and 10.

Goal 4 aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. In many societies, inequalities in education opportunities have long-term implications for individuals’ own prosperity as well as for a country’s growth and long-term stability. The factors that contribute to inequalities in education opportunities in Ghana are explored by this ACEIR node’s research. Additionally, the research assesses the contribution of inequality of education opportunities to overall income inequality in the country.

SDG 10 aims to reduce inequality within and among countries. To achieve this objective, it is important first to understand how inequality varies among sub-groups (e.g., educated vs. uneducated; ethnicity, gender, etc.) in the country. This understanding will be important for targeting adequate interventions towards reducing economic inequality. Current research at the Western Africa node explores inequality dynamics among various sub-groups in Ghana.

ACEIR’s development of a diagnostic tool for inequality will be useful for policymakers and other stakeholders by providing the relevant and current data to facilitate the debate on inequality (and poverty) in the country. This tool also critically assesses the various social and economic policies and interventions that have been implemented over the years to address the inequality situation in Ghana. The ability to monitor the effects of a policy intervention and evaluate the outcomes on inequality is critical for future planning. Ongoing research at the node also investigates household or micro-economic determinants of inequality, and how these differ across rural/urban residence (as the returns to household characteristics may differ by locality).