Jennifer Leavy

Jennifer Leavy



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Personal profile


An economist by training, I apply mixed methods (combining quantitative and qualitative approaches) to my research.  My research, consultancy and advisory work encompass: climate change adaptation and resilience; livelihoods and rural development; social mobility; youth; markets and institutions; social networks; risk, vulnerability and poverty. I also do mixed-methods impact evaluation, especially of complex programmes.


I joined DEVCo in 2013 following a long stint at the Institute of Development Studies in the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team. I work partly as a Senior Research Fellow with the School of International Development doing research and impact evaluations. I also carry out impact evaluations as an independent consultant.

Academic Background

  • I have a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex and an MSC in Agricultural Economics from Imperial College (Wye).
  • My PhD thesis was on social networks and economic life in rural Zambia, and examined the ways in which smallholder farmers’ social networks determined their participation in crop markets. It combined social network analysis with new institutional economics/ transaction costs models, and was informed by anthropological and sociological approaches, particularly in relation to labour markets. (Supervisors - Howard White and Julie Litchfield; Examiners - Andy McKay and Arjan Verschoor)
  • During my MSc I specialised in econometrics. My dissertation was on Food Consumption in Bulgaria – an ‘Almost Ideal Demand System’

Key Research Interests

My research interests focus on the intersection of social, cultural and economic life in the context of poverty, inequality and vulnerability. I work mainly on rural livelihoods, climate change adaptation and resilience. I have a strong interest in social mobility in relation to exits out of poverty for the poorest and most marginalised people. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

External positions

Freelance Consultant

Jun 2013 → …

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or