Socioeconomic status and elderly adult mortality in rural Ghana: evidence from the Navrongo DSS.

  • Khagayi Sammy KEMRI/CDC Research and Public Health Collaboration, Kisumu, Kenya; School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Wak George Navrongo Health Reasearch Center, Navrongo, Ghana
  • Abraham Hogson Navrongo Health Reasearch Center, Navrongo, Ghana
  • Debpuur Cornelius Navrongo Health Reasearch Center, Navrongo, Ghana


Elderly adult health and issues affecting them in Africa have not been adequately addressed by research. This study explored the relationship between socioeconomic status and elderly adult mortality in the Kassena-Nnakana District (KND) of northern Ghana using data from the Navrongo Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) in 2005-2006. 15,030 adults aged 60 years and over were included in the study, of whom 1315 died. Using Cox proportional hazards regression, we found that socioeconomic status (SES) was not a determinant of elderly mortality. Compared to the lowest SES quintile, the adjusted hazards ratios were: 0.94 (95%CI: 0.79–1.12) for second quintile, 0.91 (95%CI: 0.76– 1.08) for third quintile, 0.89 (95%CI: 0.75–1.07) for fourth quintile and 1.02 (95%CI: 0.86–1.21) for the highest income quintile. However, living without a spouse [HR=1.98, 95%CI: 1.74–2.25], being male [HR=1.80, 95%CI: 1.59– 2.04] and age [HR=1.05, 95%CI: 1.04–1.05] were significant factors for elderly adult mortality. This shows that companionship and social/family ties are of more importance than household socioeconomic status in determining elderly adult mortality. Efforts should therefore be made to introduce programs and policies to support the elderly, especially those living alone.