Prof Jo Boyden

Professor of International Development and Director, Young Lives

Jo Boyden has been an authority on child development and children's rights since the mid-1980s. Over that time, she has worked on various aspects of research and policy with children, particularly child labour, education, children in conflict (especially working with the Refugee Studies Centre), as well as publishing on childhood resilience in the context of adversity, poverty, and socio-cultural development.

Her recent research has maintained a broad multidisciplinary range alongside a focus on issues of childhood poverty. As Director of Young Lives since 2005, Jo leads a five-country, multidisciplinary team, providing strategic vision, guidance on research and analysis, and using her extensive networks among policymakers and practitioners and across key academic disciplines like education, psychology, sociology, anthropology and international development, to increase the project's outreach and influence

Jo has worked in a wide range of countries, including: Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Peru (where she carried out her doctoral research), Somaliland and Sri Lanka. She has advised many of the large INGOs (Christian Children's Fund, Plan, Save the Children, Oxfam) as well as UN and other multilateral agencies and bilateral donors (CIDA, Danida, DFID, SIDA). One of her best-known works ('What Works for Working Children') was written for Save the Children Sweden.

Jo trained at University College, London (BSc Hons, 1973), Cambridge University and the London School of Economics (PhD, 1983).

In the media

Jo Boyden currently teaches an option on Children, Youth and Development for the MPhil in Development Studies.

Research Students supervised

Paul Kellner
Research Student
Kirsten Pontalti
Research Student
Caitlin Procter
Research Student

Books and monographs

Boyden, Jo (with Michael Bourdillon) (2014) 'Growing Up in Poverty: Perspectives from Young Lives', Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Boyden, Jo (with M Bourdillon) (eds) (2012) 'Childhood Poverty: Multidisciplinary Approaches', Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Boyden, Jo (with J de Berry) (eds) (2004) 'Children and Youth on the Front Line: Ethnography, Armed Conflict and Displacement', Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books
Boyden, Jo (with B Ling, W Myers) (1998) 'What Works for Working Children', Stockholm: Radda Barnen
Boyden, Jo (with S Gibbs) (1997) 'Children of War: Responses to Psycho-social Distress in Cambodia', Geneva: UNRISD
Boyden, Jo (with J Ennew) (1997) 'Children in Focus, a Manual on Child-centred Participatory Research', Stockholm: Radda Barnen

Journal articles and special issues

Boyden, Jo (with Stefan Dercon, Abhijeet Singh) (2014) 'Child Development in a Changing World: Risks and Opportunities', World Bank Research Observer
Boyden, Jo (with Gina Crivello) (2014) 'On Childhood and Risk: An Exploration of Children's Everyday Experiences in Rural Peru', Children and Society 28 (5) 380-91
Boyden, Jo (with Zoe James) (2014) 'Schooling, Childhood Poverty and Development: Choices and Challenges in a Longitudinal Study', Oxford Review of Education 40 (1) 10-29
Boyden, Jo (with I Barnett, P Ariana, S Petrou, M Penny, LT Duc, S Galab, T Woldehanna, J Escobal, E Plugge) (2012) 'Cohort Profile: The Young Lives Study', International Journal of Epidemiology 42 (3) 701-08
Boyden, Jo (with A Pankhurst, T Tafera) (2012) 'Child protection and 'harmful traditional practices': female early marriage and genital modification in Ethiopia', Development in Practice 22 (4) 510-22
Boyden, Jo (2012) 'Why are current efforts to eliminate female circumcision in Ethiopia misplaced?', Culture, Health and Sexuality 14 (10) 1111-23
Boyden, Jo (2011) 'Why Resilience Research Needs to Take Account of Political Economy and Culture', International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development Bulletin 1(59) 27-31
Boyden, Jo (2009) 'Risk and Capability in the Context of Adversity: Children's Contributions to Household Livelihoods in Ethiopia', Children, Youth and Environments 19(2) 111-37
Boyden, Jo (2009) 'What Place the Politics of Compassion in Education Surrounding Non-Citizen Children?', Educational Review 61(3) 265-76
Boyden, Jo (2003) 'The Moral Development of Child Soldiers: What do Adults have to Fear?', Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology 9 (4)
Boyden, Jo (2003) 'Children Under Fire: Challenging Assumptions about Children's Resilience', Children, Youth and Environments 13(1)
Boyden, Jo (2001) 'Children's Participation in the Context of Forced Migration', Participatory Learning and Action Notes London: IIED 42
Boyden, Jo (2000) 'Conducting Research with War-affected and Displaced Children: Ethics and Methods', Cultural Survivial Quarterly (Summer Edition)
Boyden, Jo (1996) 'Social and Cultural Meanings of Childhood', Development 1(March)


Boyden, Jo (with Gina Crivello, Virginia Morrow) (2015) 'Gender, Development, Children and Young People'. In Anne Coles, Leslie Gray and Janet Mommsen (eds) The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Development , London: Routledge
Boyden, Jo (with Gina Crivello) (2014) 'Child Work and Mobility'. In Bridget Anderson, Michael Keith (eds) Migration: The Compas Anthology , Oxford: ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS)
Boyden, Jo (2014) 'Introduction: Child Poverty and the Centrality of Schooling'. In Jo Boyden, Michael Bourdillon (eds) Growing Up in Poverty: Perspectives from Young Lives , Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Boyden, Jo (with Michael Bourdillon) (2014) 'Reflections: Inequality, School and Social Change'. In Jo Boyden, Michael Bourdillon (eds) Growing Up in Poverty: Perspectives from Young Lives , Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Boyden, Jo (with V Morrow) (2014) 'The Ethics of Researching Children's Well-being'. In A Ben-Arieh, F Casas, I Frones, J Korbin (eds) Handbook of Child Well-being , Dordrecht: Springer
Boyden, Jo (with V Morrow) (2013) 'The ethics of researching children's well-being'. In A Ben-Arieh, F Casas, I Frones, J Korbin (eds) Handbook of Child Well-being , Dordrecht: Springer
Boyden, Jo (with G Crivello ) (2012) 'Political economy, perception and social change as mediators of childhood risk in Andhra Pradesh'. In J Boyden, M Bourdillon (eds) Childhood Poverty, multidisciplinary approaches , Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Boyden, Jo (with A Hardgrove, C Knowles) (2011) 'Continuity and Change in Poor Children's Lives: Evidence from Young Lives'. In A Minujin (ed) Child Poverty: A Global Perspective , New York: Policy Press
Boyden, Jo (with V Morrow) (2009) 'Social Values and Child Labour'. In A Fassa, D Parker, T Scanlon (eds) Child Labour - a Public Health Perspective , Oxford: OUP
Boyden, Jo (2009) 'Child Soldiers and Their Rehabilitation'. In N Young (ed) The Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace , Oxford, New York: OUP
Boyden, Jo (with E Cooper) (2009) 'Questioning the Power of Resilience: Are Children Up to the Task of Disruptingthe Transmission of Poverty?'. In T Addison, D Hulme and R Kanbur (eds) Poverty Dynamics: Measurement and Understanding from an Interdisciplinary Perspective , Oxford, New York: OUP
Boyden, Jo (with G Mann) (2005) 'Children's Risk, Resilience and Coping in Extreme Situations'. In M Ungar (ed) Pathways to Resilience Across Cultures and Contexts: Handbook for Working with Children and Youth , Thousand Oaks
Boyden, Jo (with J de Berry) (2004) 'Introduction'. In J Boyden, J de Berry (eds) Children and Youth on the Front Line: Ethnography, Armed Conflict and Displacement , Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books
Boyden, Jo (with J de Berry) (2004) 'Anthropology Under Fire: Ethics, Researchers and Children in War'. In J Boyden, J de Berry (eds) Children and Youth on the Front Line: Ethnography, Armed Conflict and Displacement , Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books
Boyden, Jo (2001) 'Scientific Conceptualisations of Children and Youth: Trends and Issues'. In S Tremayne (ed) Managing Reproductive Life: Cross-Cultural Themes in Sexuality and Fertility , Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books
Boyden, Jo (1997) 'Childhood & the Policy Makers: a Perspective on the Globalization of Childhood'. In A James, A Prout (eds) Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: contemporary issues in the sociological study of childhood , Cambridge: Falmer Press


Boyden, Jo (with W Myers) (1998) 'Child Labour: a New Vision. Promoting the Best Interests of Working Children', London: The Save the Children Alliance

Working papers

Boyden, Jo (2007) 'Of Tigers and Snakes: Children's Social Development during Conflict, the Case of Tamil Children in Sri Lanka', Queen Elizabeth House Working Paper No. 151 Oxford: Oxford Department of International Development
Boyden, Jo (with J Hart, J de Berry, T Feeney) (2002) 'Children Affected by Armed Conflict in South Asia: A Review of Trends and Issues Identifired Through Secondary Research', RSC Working Paper Series 7
Boyden, Jo (2000) 'Children and Social Healing', L Carlson, M Mackeson-Sandbach, T Allen (eds) Children in Extreme Situations, Proceedings from the 1998 Alistair Berkley Memorial Lecture, DESTIN Working Paper No 00-05 LSE
02 March, 2018
New research programme to explore African governance
13 February, 2018
Young Lives publish new summative report on children's work
11 August, 2016
International Youth Day: 'How to stop the world’s 3.1 billion young people being left behind'
25 May, 2016
Jo Boyden and colleagues launch report on young people in emerging markets at House of Lords
11 September, 2014
New Book: Growing Up in Poverty: Findings from Young Lives
24 July, 2014
Human Development Report 2014 Draws on Young Lives Research on Youth Vulnerabilities
12 November, 2012
Call for Papers: Inequalities in Children's Outcomes in Developing Countries
10 September, 2012
UNICEF Features Young Lives Work in Child Poverty Insight Series
12 July, 2012
Young Lives Publishes New Paper on Child Development and Economic Development
16 January, 2012
Young Lives Publishes First Book in New Series
21 Feb, 2018
'Understand the lives of youth in low-income countries'. Young Lives Director Jo Boyden co-authors comment piece as part of Nature collection on Adolescence
24 May, 2016
The best books to challenge our assumptions about raising children. Jo Boyden interviewed by Five Books
Research interests: