Inequality and Inclusive Development in Ghana
This chapter provides an overview of inequality in Ghana from a political economy perspective. The extent and consequences of inequality in the country have fluctuated in response to structural factors linked to socio-economic and political changes. Critical historical junctures that have affected inequality trends in the country go back to precolonial times and include the social effects of slavery, the introduction of “legitimate commerce” following the abolition of the slave trade, the rise of the cocoa economy at the turn of the twentieth century, the adoption of socialist economic policies after independence, political instability between the late 1960s and early 1980s, and the advent of economic and political liberalisation from the mid-1980s. Against this backdrop, we interrogate how inequality in Ghana has evolved in response to these large-scale factors. The chapter is organised as follows: the first section provides a theoretical and historical overview of inequality. The second section explores the various domains of inequality in Ghana, with a focus on class, gender, and disability. This exploration is done against the backdrop of the country’s entrenched north–south disparities in development. The third section examines a selection of social development programmes introduced in recent decades and how the larger political context shaped their ability to produce propoor outcomes. The chapter concludes with a brief reflection on progress made so far in actualising Ghana’s commitment to SDG 10.