Living Conditions Are Bad - IEA Survey Reveals

A sizeable number of Ghanaians, representing about 63 per cent of  respondents from a national survey, have described their current living conditions as bad. The survey, which sampled the views of 1,200 households across the 10 regions of the country, suggested that generally, there was deep economic hardship. 

The Socio-economic and Governance Survey was undertaken by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) between June and July, 2014.

At a press conference to disseminate the results of the findings of the survey, a Senior Fellow at the IEA, Dr Ransford Gyampo, said “the survey tried to elicit household perceptions and assessment of their living conditions. A good majority of respondents (63.3 per cent) regard their current living conditions to be bad. Only 25.2 per cent indicated that their current living conditions were good. The results generally suggest deep economic hardship.”

Regional variations
According to him, the results indicated that there were considerable regional variations in the responses. 

He said more people in the Western, Central, Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions reported bad living conditions as compared to the  Greater Accra, Upper East and Upper West. 

In general, he said, urban dwellers, representing 63.5 per cent of respondents, reported worse living conditions than rural dwellers who constituted 60 per cent.

This result, he explained, ought to be taken against the backdrop of a generally higher cost of living in urban areas, although poverty was also lower in those areas.

Dr Gyampo said that females who formed 66.5 per cent of respondents reported worse conditions than males were at 60.4 per cent. 

“This is not surprising since males tend to be generally better off economically than females, given that males have better opportunities in education and jobs and tend to have higher incomes and most homes have males as the breadwinners,” he explained. 

Worsened living conditions
The majority of respondents, representing about 68.5 per cent indicated that their living conditions remained the same or worsened over the last six months. 

However, respondents were generally optimistic about improvements in their living conditions in the next six months. 

 About 43.4 per cent indicated that their living conditions would improve over the next six months and this optimism cuts across the gender and rural-urban divide. 

“Only 22.4 per cent  thought their living conditions will worsen” Dr Gyampo said, adding that “the general optimism seems to emanate from the fact that economic conditions were pretty bad at the time of the survey, including a cedi crisis, high fuel and utility prices and power constraints.” 

The expectation from the survey, he said, was that things could only get better going forward.

Regarding access to food, about a quarter (25 per cent) of respondents indicated that their households did not have enough food to eat in the last six months. 

In addition, the survey report said another 22 per cent had on occasions experienced hunger. 

No food
“Northern Region reported the highest level of respondents without food while Greater Accra reported the least. Further, rural areas generally reported lower access to food, possibly reflecting the higher poverty in those areas,” the survey reported.

Views on school expenses indicated that an overwhelming majority of households had difficulties in meeting them. 

Nationally, 66 per cent of households indicated they lacked money for school expenses. 

“Unsurprisingly, the problem was more widespread among rural dwellers (69.2 per cent) than urban dwellers (63.2 per cent). The levels in both cases are, however, high and generally point to a high incidence of nationwide difficulty in meeting school expenses.” 

Dr Gyampo said it was the position of the IEA that given the importance of education in national development, policy intervention to address that challenge was quite urgent.