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Learning Guide

Designing surveys and analysing results from a gender perspective in economic research

Jacques Charmes
International Development Research Centre

This document provides guidance on the integration of gender and diversity considerations into applied research in economics focusing on countries in which the informal sector is predominant.

It draws inspiration from the support given to the West African research centres involved in researching solutions to the socioeconomic challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly the livelihoods of vulnerable groups and the informal sector. The document was written with the assistance of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and is intended to be a guide to applied research.

  • Section 1 sets out the principal orientations of gender analyses.
  • Section 2 examines how, in practice, considerations of gender and diversity are integrated into the design and formulation of statistical and qualitative surveys, and into their descriptive and logistic analyses.
  • Section 3 contains a brief compilation of the resources available on gender, the informal economy, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key messages

In many ways, the economic and social crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic differs from crises caused by intrinsically economic shocks such as the financial crisis of 2008–09, both by its suddenness, its global reach, the magnitude of the immediate consequences on millions of individuals, and the reactions of governments. It also had extremely disruptive effects on the collection of data by official organisations. The scale and ambition of the response measures taken by governments have not always been successful in mitigating their neutrality – or rather their blindness to questions of gender and diversity. What is certain is that the specific characteristics of the crisis caused by the pandemic have produced large-scale structural effects and we still don’t know how long they will last, which relate to how we exercise economic activities at the usual places of work, or how domestic and care tasks in households are shared. In Sub-Saharan Africa where the informal sector is predominant and in which women find their main livelihoods, all the while contributing more disproportionately than ever to domestic and care tasks, and where the measures taken by government have undoubtedly been less sensitive to issues of gender, these two aspects (informality and gender) are of particular relevance in any research on the impact of the pandemic on the living conditions of populations.

Research projects that aim to identify the impact of the pandemic on gender inequality must therefore design surveys and approaches that place these issues centre stage, in the design, analysis and presentation of the results to the various stakeholders.

The aim of this document was to present a number of simple ideas, which might even be considered trivial, but which are too often ignored, and to signpost the reader to the resources available online, in order to facilitate this unveiling of the realities by the research teams involved. It clearly won’t have been able to identify all the aspects one would have liked to address, and it will fall to the comments that will undoubtedly follow in order to fill in the gaps and add to the series of recommendations.

Cite this publication
Charmes, J. (2022) Designing Surveys and Analysing Results from a Gender Perspective in Economic Research, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, DOI: 10.19088/CORE.2022.009