Our combined methods

We are carrying out multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, including a detailed survey of all the children, group work and participatory activities with a smaller group of some children, and policy and budget monitoring and analysis.

Household and child survey

We carry out a detailed, comprehensive survey of all the Young Lives children (younger and older cohort) and their primary caregiver every three years. The first survey round was conducted in 2002, and the second round in late 2006/early 2007. The third round was conducted from late 2009 to early 2010. The next rounds will take place in 2013 and 2016.

The surveys use a questionnaire for each child and his or her primary caregiver. We also talk to community leaders to understand more about local resources and services and changes happening in the local area.

The questions cover material well-being, physical health, education and cognitive development, perceptions of wealth and general well-being, psychosocial health, time use and activities, risk and vulnerability, and social and political capital.

Longitudinal qualitative research

We carry out more in-depth work on particular aspects of children’s lives with a smaller sample of 100 children and their caregivers in five communities from each region. The sample also reflected equal number of older and younger age groups (cohorts) and boys and girls. This involves a mixture of group-based activities, individual interviews and observational work exploring their local environment. Three rounds of data were collected in 2007, 2008 and 2010 as part of the qualitative research.

We talk to the important adults in each child’s life, including their main carer, teachers and local community figures, healthcare providers, kebele administration, NGO representatives and local association members both individually and in groups. So far the major focus of our qualitative research has been on children’s age-related expectations and risks, children’s perception of poverty, development programmes’ impact on children’s lives, community  and educational timeline, key transitions and time use (work, education, etc), well-being (psychosocial and physical), Intergenerational comparisons, and access to and quality of education, play and health services and facilities.

School survey

A school survey was introduced into Young Lives in 2010, following the third round of the household survey, in order to capture detailed information about children’s experiences of schooling. It addresses two main research questions:

  • How do the relationships between poverty and child development manifest themselves and impact upon children's educational experiences and outcomes?
  • To what extent does children’s experience of school reinforce or compensate for disadvantage in terms of child development and poverty?

The survey allows us to link longitudinal information from the household survey with data on the schools attended by the Young Lives children. This provides policy-relevant information on the relationship between child development (and its determinants) and children’s experience of school, including access, quality and progression. The combination of household, child and school-level data over time constitutes the comparative advantage of the Young Lives study.