This paper presents emerging findings from an ongoing longitudinal study into poverty dynamics and life trajectories in rural Bangladesh. The study integrates a quantitative panel survey of 1787 core households with a sub-sample of 293 qualitative life history interviews.
In this paper, we report findings based on two-thirds of the study sites (908 households and 184 life history interviews). While both the qualitative and quantitative data shows movements into and out of poverty, the qualitative data reveal fewer poverty transitions than the quantitative data. Such mismatches appear to be due to the higher, more relative poverty ‘line' used in the qualitative data, together with measurement error and lumpy expenditures in the quantitative data. Individual life trajectories are also shown to be dominated by upward or downward ‘saw tooth' patterns, in which gradual improvements are reversed by periodic crises.
Similar opportunities and crises are observed in both the qualitative and quantitative data. Although it is not possible to reconcile all the qualitative and quantitative findings, we believe an integrated and sequenced approach to the study of poverty dynamics helps to compensate for the blind spots of any single approach, and strengthens the overall research process.
Baulch, B.; Davis, P. Poverty dynamics and life trajectories in rural Bangladesh. International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches (2008) 2 (2) 176-190.