Wellbeing & Poverty Pathways logo

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Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways was a research project based at the Centre for Development Studies at the University of Bath (UK). It was funded by the UK's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Department for International Development (DFID). It ran from 2010 to 2014.

The project involved collaboration between academics at the University of Bath, Brunel University, and Govind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute (Allahabad, India) plus the NGOs Hodi (Zambia) (closed down in 2013) and Chaupal (India).

Our research investigated the relationships between wellbeing and poverty through research in two rural communities - the Chiawa area in Kafue district, Zambia, and Sarguja district in Chhattisgarh state, India.

We developed and tested a multidimensional model of wellbeing which incorporates both subjective and objective perspectives.

The research used both qualitative and quantitative methods in a longitudinal study that gathered data from more than 700 respondents in two rounds across two years.

PublicationsBriefing papers, and Project papers present our findings.



Cultures of Wellbeing

Cultures of Wellbeing: Method, Place, Policy
Edited by Sarah C. White with Chloe Blackmore. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

What wellbeing means, whose wellbeing counts and how wellbeing may be promoted more effectively are issues central to current policy and politics. This volume presents evidence and thinking to inform these debates. Research in marginalised communities across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, plus a critical evaluation of a UK national survey, explore diverse aspects of life: health; religion; migration; economics; child poverty; family; landmine impact; and the politics of community and identity. Highlighting the politics of research methodologies, the chapters explore complementarities and tensions between quantitative and qualitative methods; the significance of gender, life-course and place; and the role of researcher identities in shaping accounts of wellbeing. Challenging conventional perspectives on happiness and subjective wellbeing, the book advocates a relational approach which sees wellbeing as produced through interaction with others. A fundamental commitment is to listen to the ways people express what is important for wellbeing in their own terms.

Cultures of Wellbeing: Method, Place, Policy Edited by Sarah C. White with Chloe Blackmore.

Wellbeing and Quality of Life Assessment

Wellbeing and Quality of Life Assessment: a Practical Guide
Edited by Sarah C. White with Asha Abeyasekera. Practical Action Publishing, 2014.

A practical resource for people engaged in social or development policy or practice who are considering integrating ‘wellbeing’ or ‘quality of life’ in their work in the global South and North. The main body of the book presents different tools that have been developed and used in social and development policy and practice and outlines the inspiration behind their approach, how it works, what has been learnt through it, and issues and dilemmas that remain.

Buy Wellbeing and Quality of Life Assessment: a Practical Guide Edited by Sarah C. White with Asha Abeyasekera.

Published Papers

White, S. C., Fernandez, A. and Jha, S., 2016.
Beyond the grumpy rich man and the happy peasant: mixed methods and the impact of food security on subjective dimensions of wellbeing in India. Oxford Development Studies.

White, S.C. and Jha, S., 2014.
The Ethical imperative of Qualitative Methods in Understanding Subjective Dimensions of Wellbeing in Zambia and India. Ethics and Social Welfare, 8 (3): 262-276.

White, S.C., Gaines, S. O., Jr., Jha, S., 2014. Inner Wellbeing: Concept and Validation of a New Approach to Subjective Perceptions of Wellbeing—India. Social Indicators Research, 119: 723-746.

White, S.C, Gaines, S.O., and Jha, S. (2012). Beyond Subjective Well-Being: A Critical Review of the Stiglitz Report Approach to Subjective Perspectives on Quality of Life. Journal of International Development. 24(6): 763-776

White, S.C. (2010) Analysing wellbeing.  A framework for development policy and practice. Development in Practice Vol 20 no 2: 158-172.

Marshall, N., White, S. C., Gaines, S., Jha, S. 2014. Wellbeing assessment in practice: lessons from Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways. Chapter 9 pp 111-126 in J. Rowley (ed.) Wealth-Ranking in International Development, Practical Action Publishing.

Briefing papers

Primarily for practitioners, our briefing papers provide an overview of key issues in developing and applying our model of wellbeing assessment.

Briefing No. 1 (revised): An integrated approach to assessing wellbeing

Briefing No. 2: The Politics of Wellbeing, Conservation and Development in Chiawa, Zambia

Briefing No.3: Social Protection and Wellbeing: Food Security in Adivasi communities, Chhattisgarh, India


Project papers

Project documents, including conference papers and presentations, that show the ongoing development of the project’s research.

India Round 2 findings report

Zambia Round 2 findings report

Wellbeing Pathways Report: Zambia Round 1 (PDF)

Wellbeing Pathways Report: India Round 1 (PDF)

Project brochure

Wellbeing and Subjectivity in International Development - Conference Resources

Book of Abstracts


Welcome address

‘Economic status, Inner Wellbeing and Happiness.’

‘Safaris, Soya or Subsistence? The Politics of Wellbeing, Conservation and Development in Chiawa, Zambia.’

‘Wellbeing and Global Poverty: Of Wicked Problems and Messy Concepts.’  

‘Social isolation, shame and humiliation as missing dimensions of poverty analysis.’

‘Insight on Africa.’

Intergenerational narratives of wellbeing and gender: Findings from Young Lives.’

Understanding Patterns of Resilience: Recognizing Multiple Pathways to Wellbeing.’

‘Assessing Women’s Wellbeing in Rural Malawi: A Capabilities Index.’

Wellbeing from an Indigenous Perspective: A Framework Proposal.’

Community historical reconstruction and cultural identity building as a local pathway for sustainable development.’

‘Of Photographs and Papaya. Researching Wellbeing and Motifs of Gift Exchange.’

‘Marriage, Wellbeing, and Contingent Narratives about the ‘Self’.’

Contact Us

Email: S.C.White@bath.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)1225 385298
Wellbeing and Poverty Pathways
c/o Dr Sarah C White
Centre for Development Studies
University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK


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