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Keywords:

  • African families;
  • cross-cultural;
  • family processes;
  • satisfaction;
  • well-being

The authors investigated variations in reciprocity and the impact of reciprocity on well-being in a West African society. They hypothesized that household size and income diversity encourage reciprocity, which in turn enhances subjective well-being. In empirical testing of these hypotheses the authors used the data of the Core Welfare Indicators Questionnaire of Ghana, a national sample of household heads (N males = 33,949, N females = 13,900) collected in 2003. A regression analysis showed that remittance facilitates balanced or credited reciprocity, whereas size-related measures (marital status and generational relationships) produce mixed results. Reciprocity clearly strengthens perceived economic security and level of happiness among Ghanaians. This research suggests that extensive reciprocity among kin, rather than household configurations, should be stressed in efforts to understand the structure of familial relationships and its consequences for well-being.