Functionings and Capabilities as Tools for Explaining Differences in Self- Assessed Health: The Case of Women’s Health in Accra, Ghana

  • Nedialka Douptcheva Université de Genève, Genève
  • Allan G Hill University of Southampton
Keywords: Women’s health, Health differentials, Capabilities, West Africa


We apply the Capability Approach on the data from a survey of women’s health in Accra to illustrate how such a framework can capture health differentials. We identified endowment groups by based on the wealth of the households and the socio-economic status of the neighbourhood of residence and analysed their association with the functionings, measured by summary indicators of physical and mental health. Regression analysis reveals that socio-cultural and household factors do not have a significant association with health status. In turn, education appears to have the predicted association with both physical and mental health. Unemployed women suffer poorer health even when compared with women in informal jobs. Being childless is associated with better health, remembering that this is now a low fertility population. The two dimensions of health measured here – physical and mental – do have different determinants. The socio-economic status of the neighbourhood affects physical health while family wealth affects mental health more strongly.

Author Biographies

Nedialka Douptcheva, Université de Genève, Genève
Harvard School of Public Health, Boston and Institut d’études démographiques et du parcours de vie
Allan G Hill, University of Southampton
Harvard School of Public Health