chapter  5
40 Pages

Epidemiological-Longitudinal Approaches to the Study of Development

Other authors in this volume have dealt with contrasting theoretical perspectives on various aspects of the process of development. The task assigned to me, that of discussing epidemiological approaches, was different, in that epidemiology constitutes just one particular methodology and not a theoretical framework (apart from a firm commitment to the view that all concepts and ideas should be subjected to rigorous empirical testing). Moreover, epidemiology makes no claims to provide a comprehensive set of answers to any question. Nevertheless, as I hope to illustrate by means of some studies with which I have been involved, it does provide a most useful set of research tools that constitute the most powerful methodology available for some purposes. On the other hand. almost always the decisive test of any hypothesis must await the planned experiments and interventions that are the necessary sequelae to epidemiology. Thus. epidemiological approaches often provide an essential cog in the investigative chain. but only rarely do they constitute the complete chain.