Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank
Vijayendra (Biju) Rao, a Lead Economist in the Development Research Group of the World Bank, works at the intersection of scholarship and practice. He integrates his training in economics with theories and methods from anthropology, sociology and political science to study the social, cultural, and political context of extreme poverty in developing countries. He leads the Social Observatory, an inter-disciplinary lab to improve the conversation between citizens and governments. His research, published in The American Economic Review, The Journal of Political Economy, The American Political Science Review, World Development and other journals, has spanned a variety of subjects dowries in India, domestic violence, the economics of sex work, public celebrations, community development, and deliberative democracy. He and Ghazala Mansuri co-authored Localizing Development: Does Participation Work? which the Nobel Laureate Roger Myerson has described as “one of the most important books in development in recent years.” His latest book (with Paromita Sanyal) is Oral Democracy: Deliberation in Rural India (Cambridge University Press, 2018). He was on the team of 2006 WDR on Equity and Development, and has co-edited Culture and Public Action, History, Historians and Development Policy, and, Deliberation and Development. He serves on the editorial boards of several journals and is a member of the Successful Societies Program at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR).