The proportion of households headed by females in the region (14.1%) is much higher than the national average (11.0%). Among the districts, Savelugu-Nanton has the lowest proportion of female-headed households (9.4%); West Gonja (16.1%), Bole (16.7%) and the Tamale municipality (20.1%) have figures in excess of 15.0 per cent.
Household Size And Composition
The composition and structure of the Ghanaian household remain largely traditional, even among the most urbanized segments of the society. The complexity and size of the household depends largely on the headship of the household, in terms of both sex/gender and socio-economic status. The more affluent the head of the household, the more complex the household is likely to be.
The average household in the region has, on the average, 7.4 members. Of this number, 44.6 per cent are children of the household head and 21.6 per cent are other relatives. The average household size varies from 6.1 in Savelugu-Nanton, to 9.6 in Gushiegu-Karaga. The Tamale municipality, the most urbanized district, has an average household size of 6.5.
The relatively high average household size in the region may be a reflection of the housing structure with several round huts belonging to different members of households, on the same compound. The proportion of children in the household varies from 40.3 per cent in the Tamale municipality to 50.8 per cent in Saboba-Chereponi. The proportion of other relatives per household varies from 18.8 per cent in Nanumba to 24.7 per cent in the Yendi District. Thus, households in the region present the same level of structural and numerical complexity as will be expected in very traditional settings.
There is a wide variation in the proportion of the population married in the districts. The Tamale municipality not only has the lowest percentage of the married (54.4%), the highest proportion of the never married (36.9%) but also shares the highest percentage of the divorced (2.3%) with Savelugu-Nanton. By contrast, Gushiegu-Karaga has the highest percentage of the married (70.4%), the lowest percentage of those in consensual union (0.9%), the lowest percentage of the widowed (3.5%), and, in addition, shares the lowest percentage of the never married (22.5%) with Mamprusi West (22.7%).
Living together in a consensual union does not appear to be common in the region (1.8%) and is highest in the Bole District (3.7%). Separation of marriages (1.2%), which is also not common in the region, varies within the narrow range of 0.8 per cent in Tolon-Kumbungu, to 1.8 per cent in the Yendi District. Divorce (1.9%) which is also not common in the region, is lowest in West (1.3%) and East (1.2%) Mamprusi. Widowhood, 4.5 per cent for the region, is lower than the national average of 5.0 per cent.
Differentials In Marital Status By Sex
The Tamale municipality not only has the lowest percentage married for both males (49.2%) and females (59.7%) but it also has the highest percentage of the never married males (45.9%) and females (27.7%).
The percentage of the never married males is relatively high in all the districts, ranging from the lowest (32.1% in West Mamprusi and 32.2% in Gushiegu-Karaga) to a high of 45.9 per cent in the Tamale municipality. The high sex differential in the never married is reflected by the fact that the lowest percentage of never married males (32.1%) is higher than the highest percentage of the never married females (27.7%) which, in turn, varies from 13.3 per cent in Savelugu-Nanton to 27.7 per cent in the Tamale municipality.
The incidence of consensual union is very low for both males (1.6%) and females (2.0%) and is lowest for both sexes in Gushiegu-Karaga (0.9%) and highest for males (2.9%) and females (4.4%) in the Bole District. Separation of marital relations is relatively very low in the region for both males and females but does not exceed 1.4 per cent for males and 2.1 per cent for females, in any district in the region. Divorce, which is equally low for both sexes, does not exceed 2.0 per cent for males and 2.7 per cent for females, in any district in the region. On the contrary, the differential between male and female widowhood levels is high.
The highest level for males, 2.0 per cent in the Bole District, is 2.9 times lower than the lowest level for females, 5.7 per cent, which is in Gushiegu-Karaga. No district in the region has a female widowhood level lower than 6.5 per cent. Apart from Gushiegu-Karaga (5.7%), and the very high level of 10.4 per cent in Savelugu-Nanton, the remaining 11 of the 13 districts have a relatively high female widowhood level, varying within the narrow range of 6.5 to 8.8 per cent.
Factors such as polygamy and younger females marrying much older males, who may die early and leave the females widowed, may explain the level of female widowhood, relative to that of males. However, the differential is wide enough and therefore deserves serious concern and appropriate mitigating programme action. This is important and necessary, in the context of the Northern Region, despite the fact that female widowhood level in the region (7.7%) is almost the same as that at the national level (7.8%). On the whole, marital relations are more stable in the region than in the country as a whole.
Marital Status Of Children 12-14 Years
Barely 0.2 per cent of the population aged 12-14 years is married. Those in consensual union, the separated, divorced and the widowed, each constitutes less than (1.0%). The proportion never married is high (99.8%) as expected. The fact that there are 12-14 year-olds already divorced or widowed, may be due to very young girls being married to much older persons, who either abandon them after a while or die while the spouses are still young.
At the district level, the proportion married is highest in Gushiegu-Karaga (0.3%) and lowest in the Tamale municipality (0.1%). The proportion in consensual union, separated, divorced and widowed constitutes a small proportion in each district. The proportion never married is high, varying within the narrow margin of 99.7 to 99.9 per cent. Although the percentages on the marital status of children, aged 12-14 years, are not high, they nevertheless depict a rather unacceptable situation where these children are in different marital statuses instead of being in the classroom where they rightly belong. Steps should be taken to ensure that the maximum number possible of children of these ages are in the school system instead of being married.