03 February 2012

The economics of livelihoods

I'm not really sure what "livelihoods" means, except that I know that NGOs talk about it a lot, and that it seems to have something to do with helping poor people to generate more income. In fact NGOs seem to spend a lot of time and money trying to help poor people to improve their livelihoods, or generate more income. Now, how people generate their income sounds a lot like the kind of problem that economics was designed to deal with. In fact, a naive observer might have guessed that the whole point of micro development economics was to apply theory and evidence to the question of how poor people generate their income, and what interventions can do to improve matters. Which might have led you to expect a voluminous literature on the economics of livelihoods.

A google search for "the economics of livelihoods" gets you 51 results. "The economics of livelihoods approaches" get you zero. Now, I think this is probably just an issue of terminology. Is this an unexploited niche for economists to influence policy just by speaking NGO language?


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