Research concerns under this theme include studies on poverty relating to conceptual and measurement aspects, quality of life, livelihood options and social infrastructure, mainly in rural India. However, increasingly, research under this theme has been dealing with urban poverty as also rural-urban linkages.

GIDR's interest in population research goes beyond pure demographic projections and is concerned with issues regarding the quality of life. The Institute has contributed to the debate on demographic transition in India, fertility decline, contraceptive use and reproductive health. Further, the research highlights the importance of social infrastructure in health, education, water and sanitation in human development.

Access, achievements and financing in the spheres of education and health sectors form a major aspect of studies in human development. Enquiries, often field based, have dealt with issues in literacy programmes, adult education, health programmes and training health workers. Research on health and family welfare has contributed towards developing a framework towards a target-free approach in family planning. In all research and action projects gender issues receive a central place.

The major areas of research are population, social infrastructure, poverty and issues in promoting livelihood options. Dynamics of availability and accessing credit by the marginalized in the society has formed a new area of research, which includes critiquing microfinance, in both rural and urban contexts, as an instrument in addressing the development needs of the poor.