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Interventions for sustainable livelihoods: a review of evidence and knowledge gaps

Shubham Kumar (Jindal Global Business School, OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India)
Keya Sengupta (Indian Institute of Management Shillong, Umsawli, India)
Bidyut Jyoti Gogoi (Indian Institute of Management Shillong, Umsawli, India)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 14 December 2022

Issue publication date: 17 March 2023




The concept of sustainable livelihoods – commonly understood as managing of means of living without undermining natural resources – has gained momentum in international development discourse. This review focuses on broadening of conceptualisation of policy intervention process for sustainable livelihoods approach and synthesis of evidence to track development in their knowledge structure.


Evidence available in the literature systematically reviewed with the established methods and themes of interest are curated, to assess the characteristics, mechanisms and caveats arising in policy and practice.


The authors found seventy-five independent studies that fit into the pre-specified research protocol and objectives. The authors classify these studies into six major themes: Economic wellbeing; Opportunities and capabilities; Climate and natural resources; Policy design; Formal-informal institutional environment; and Labour, entrepreneurship and exports. Various research gaps and directions for future research are also discussed.

Research limitations/implications

The study provides a typology of reviewed literature examining the profile dynamics. Thematic analysis resulted into identifying complementarities and trade-offs and results demonstrate multiple heterogeneity in structures, processes and outcomes.


The definitive areas of interventions are discussed to broaden the utility of the concept in a structured way. This review paper brings a comprehensive view of livelihood intervention system and contribute in enriching the social policy perspective.

Peer review

The peer review history for this article is available at:



The authors are grateful to Prof. Tapas K. Giri for insights and invaluable comments to an earlier draft.

Conflict of Interest: None


Kumar, S., Sengupta, K. and Gogoi, B.J. (2023), "Interventions for sustainable livelihoods: a review of evidence and knowledge gaps", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 50 No. 4, pp. 556-574.



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