Longitudinal Research About, and Program Evaluations of, Positive Youth Development in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Methodological Issues and Options


  • Richard M. Lerner Tufts University
  • Jonathan M. Tirrell Tufts University
  • Patricia K. Gansert Boston College
  • Jacqueline V. Lerner Boston College
  • Pamela Ebstyne King Fuller Theological Seminary
  • G. John Geldhof Oregon State University
  • Elizabeth M. Dowling Tufts University
  • Alistair T. R. Sim Compassion International




positive youth development, methodology, longitudinal research designs, low- and middle-income countries, Compassion International


The study of positive youth development (PYD) requires theory-based methodological considerations pertinent to measurement, research and program design, and data analysis. We outline the appropriate steps that researchers and program evaluators must enact to address these methodological foci in their respective attempts to describe, explain, and optimize the course of positive development among diverse youth around the world. We focus on longitudinal (developmental) research designed to evaluate programs promoting PYD in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where life challenges are shaped by multiple adverse situations associated with racism, poverty, gender inequalities, political inequities, and the absence of adequate health and medical resources. Using the Compassion International Study of PYD as a sample case, we suggest how researchers and practitioners might collaborate to enact rigorous, theory-based research aimed at promoting PYD among youth living in LMICs and worldwide.


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