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Chowa, G. | Masa, R.
2015 | Ghana

Asset ownership and parent-youth relationship in Ghana: Determinants of positive health and wellbeing


Background and Purpose:The relationship between parents and their children may contribute to better health and wellbeing for the youth. Research has shown that positive parent-youth relationship may act as a protective factor against risky health behaviors such as substance abuse, smoking, and unsafe sexual practices. Adverse parent-youth relationship, on the other hand, may contribute to poor mental health outcomes among youth, which in turn, lead to a range of undesirable health practices, including suicidal ideation and attempts. Theoretical and empirical evidence suggests that asset ownership may improve and maintain household stability by buffering against economic shocks that may lead to deterioration of parent-youth relationship. Although prior studies have investigated determinants of positive parent-youth relationship, little is known empirically about the effects of economic resources, particularly asset ownership on parent-youth interaction in sub-Saharan Africa. This study examines the effect of asset ownership on parent-youth relationships in Ghana.

Methods: A total of 3,083 youth and their parents from the Ghana YouthSave Experiment were included in this study. Parent-youth relationship was measured using two scales adapted from the World Health Organization’s Global School-based Student Health Survey: connection to parents and parental monitoring of friends and activities. Higher values indicate better parent-youth relationship. Asset ownership referred to ownership of household possessions that were relevant and appropriate in Ghana. Confirmatory factor analysis was conducted to determine the adequacy of the adapted instruments in the current sample. Propensity score analysis was used to evaluate the impact of asset ownership on parent-youth interaction.

Results:Eighty percent of youth were from families that reported owning at least one type of household possessions. Average parental connection score was 14.54 with values ranging from 4 to 20. Average parental monitoring score was 8.98 with values ranging from 3 to 15. Factor analysis results indicate that the adapted scales performed adequately in our sample (RMSEA = 0.06, 90% CI: 0.05 to 0.07; CFI = 0.95; TLI = 0.92). Propensity score analysis results show a positive effect of asset ownership on both measures of parent-youth relationship. Youth from asset-holding families reported higher parental connection and monitoring.

Conclusion and Implications: This study finds evidence that asset ownership, specifically ownership of household possessions, positively influence parent-youth relationship. Findings suggest that asset ownership may increase protective factors or conditions that contribute to positive health and wellbeing of youth. Ownership of assets may provide a buffering effect, monetary or non-monetary, on parent-youth relationship in time of economic stress and prevent deterioration of such relationship. Further, asset ownership may increase future orientation, which in turn, may translate to better or more frequent interaction between parents and their children. Our findings are consistent with prior research that has shown more positive parent-youth interaction in economically stable households (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). Our findings also suggest that asset ownership may have positive benefits beyond financial and economic outcomes. Given positive effects on parent-youth relationship, programs that promote asset ownership may also improve parent-youth interaction and reduce engagement in risky behaviors among youth.

Chowa, G., & Masa, R. (2015, January). Asset ownership and parent-youth relationship in Ghana: Determinants of positive health and wellbeing. Paper presented at the 19th Annual Conference of the Society for Social Work and Research, New Orleans, LA, January 14-18.