DEC-20306 Rural Households and Livelihood Strategies


Studiepunten 6.00

Group work30
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. NBM Heerink
dr. SP Koot
Lecturer(s)dr. NBM Heerink
dr. SP Koot
Examiner(s)dr. NBM Heerink
dr. SP Koot

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

RSO-20806 Agricultural and Rural Development: Sociological Perspectives; DEC-20806 Introduction to Development Economics; Basic knowledge of micro-economics as taught in AEP-10303 Introduction Economics or DEC-10306 Economics;


Continuation courses:

SDC-21306 Methods, Techniques and Data Analysis for Field Research;  SDC-30306 Sociological and Anthropological Perspectives on Development; DEC-53306 Economics and Policy of Agricultural Development; 



Decisions made by rural households to secure their livelihood are central to understanding many of the key issues of international development studies. Most available approaches only provide a partial understanding of such decisions, partly due to inevitable simplification of factors taken into account. This is reinforced by strict disciplinary approaches used in the analyses. The aim of the course is to increase the awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of available approaches and those factors that must be taken into account for a real understanding of livelihood strategies, acknowledging the interactions within and between rural households and with agricultural & rural policies. In particular, the course is designed to enhance the understanding of the complementarity of (micro-)economic and sociological/anthropological approaches to rural households and their livelihood strategies. These different perspectives of households and their livelihoods have implications and consequences for the formulation of policy and for the empirical research undertaken to support policy-making. These implications will also be discussed during the course. 

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to explain, apply and evaluate different theoretical perspectives to rural household behaviour and livelihood strategies. In particular, this means that the student is able to:
- explain and apply microeconomic theory, sociological/anthropological approaches and policy-based perspectives for analysing rural household behaviour and livelihood strategies, and evaluate their usefulness and limitations;
- explain why and how gender-differentiated access to assets and division of labour shape household production, consumption, labour decisions and livelihood strategies;
- analyse how rural households decide upon income diversification (esp. migration) as a livelihood strategy, taking into account gender relations, meanings of mobility and connectivity, and market imperfections, and explain how migration may affect farm production;
- use farm household economics and sociological/anthropological theoretical perspectives on livelihoods and resources to analyse degradation and conservation of natural resources (esp. land and water) in relation to livelihoods;
- analyse why risk aversion affects rural household production decisions and how risk and vulnerability transform and shape livelihood strategies;
- make an integrated analysis of the concepts, theories and perspectives discussed during the entire course;
- work together in a multidisciplinary group and prepare, present and defend a jointly prepared brief report.


First week: Lectures on basic concepts, theories and approaches in rural household economics and rural livelihood analysis. Weeks 2-4: Lectures, group assignments and workshops on 5 themes: gender, migration, land, water, and risk & vulnerability. Assignments on each theme are prepared in groups of ca. 5 students with different disciplinary backgrounds and/or interests. Group reports on each assignment are discussed during the workshops. 


Based on:
(1) Three weekly written tests with open questions at the end of the first three weeks (15% each), and a final written test with open questions at end of the fourth week (25%);
(2) Group reports on five assignments, one group presentation, and participation of the group and the student in the 5 workshops (30%).
A minimum mark of 5.5 is needed for (1) the (weighted) average mark of the four tests, and for (2) the average mark for the assignments & workshop presentation and participation.


Selected chapters from:
- Ellis, F. (1993). Peasant Economics: Farm Households in Agrarian Development. Second edition. Cambridge; New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.
- De Janvry A. and E. Sadoulet (2016). Development Economics - Theory and Practice. London & New York: Routledge
- Scoones, I. (2015). Sustainable Livelihoods and Rural Development. Rugby, UK: Practical Action
and selected articles and papers

Verplicht voor: BINInternational Development StudiesBSc4WD
BILInternational Land and Water ManagementBSc4WD