Livelihood Options and Globalisation

Globalisation has a profound effect on the world’s poor. For some, it creates new economic opportunities. For many others it only adds new obstacles in the constant search for a sustainable livelihood.

Many of the causes of poverty are rooted not in a lack of available resources, but in institutional and territorial barriers that impede access to them. Economic programs based on market liberalisation, privatisation and reduced government controls often benefit only those who already have a fixed place in the economy. For those on the outside, poverty itself limits access to state-run programs for the promotion of livelihood opportunities. The most common result is the rise of “informal” survival strategies that only increase the economic, social and political vulnerability of the poor.

Research conducted by the NCCR North-South is concerned with the changing economic, social and political structures that determine the livelihood options available to the poor. Particular attention is paid to the possibilities for changing institutional structures and government policies to render them more responsive to the needs of the poor. Case studies aim at identifying strategies for the poor to take better advantage of existing opportunities and to enhance their ability to adapt to the constantly changing conditions of the globalised market economy.


Livelihood Concepts and Contexts
What are the options open to the poor for gaining a livelihood? What new paths are being opened through globalisation? What are the obstacles that need to be overcome? Research into these questions focuses on issues of access to available assets and the implications of spatial dynamics for the livelihood strategies of individuals and families in a variety of socio-environmental contexts.  >>more

Livelihood Strategies and Poverty
How do the poor adapt to changing circumstances? What are the strategies they follow in the quest for sustainable livelihoods? What means can be used for improving livelihood security?  >>more

Livelihoods and Territory
More and more of the fundamental assumptions on which both rural and urban livelihood strategies traditionally relied are being rendered obsolete by the effects of globalisation. How does the logic of survival influence and react to this continued transformation of social and spatial circumstances?  >>more


NCCR North-South Research on Livelihoods and Globalisation is conducted in the following regions and countries:

Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan
South Asia: India, Nepal, Pakistan
Southe​ast Asia: Vietnam
West Africa: Cameroon, Chad, Mauritania
East Africa: Tanzania
Central America & the Caribbean: Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Venezuela
South America: Argentina, Bolivia


Ulrike Müller-Böker, Head
University of Zurich, Switzerland

Adriana Rabinovich, Deputy head
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) Lausanne, Switzerland

Astrid Fritschi, Coordinator
University of Zurich, Switzerland