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This chapter examines the contributions of longitudinal research to understanding the complexity of livelihoods, particularly in relation to economic precarity that characterises local and global economies. The chapter makes the argument that because livelihoods are dynamic, being created through and responding to various economic, political and social policies and societal structures, longitudinal research is critical to understanding dynamic trajectories of people’s livelihoods. The chapter lays out some of the benefits of longitudinal studies over snap-shot studies, including randomised control trials (RCTs) or quasi-experimental research of programme beneficiary outcomes and qualitative studies that utilise interviews or other methods over a short period of time. The chapter then considers the uses of and shortcomings to quantitative longitudinal studies, which usually employ surveys to understand livelihood outcomes, and qualitative longitudinal studies that draw on a variety of methods (e.g. interviews, ethnographic observations, diaries). The chapter makes the argument for greater use of rich qualitative longitudinal research to understand the complexities of factors affecting livelihoods and their multidimensional outcomes. Highlighting a few examples of qualitative longitudinal studies, this section illustrates what this approach offers beyond quantitative studies. Finally, the chapter makes an argument for using qualitative longitudinal approaches, and not only one-time qualitative data collection, as part of mixed-methods studies of livelihoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook on Livelihoods in the Global South
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781000581508
ISBN (Print)9780367856359
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 selection and editorial matter, Fiona Nunan, Clare Barnes and Sukanya Krishnamurthy; individual chapters, the contributors.


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