Vijayendra Rao is a Lead Economist in the Development Research Group of the World Bank. 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.
Dr. Rao has published on subjects that include the rise in dowries in India, the social and economic context of domestic violence, the economics of public celebrations, sex work in Calcutta, and how to integrate economic and social theory to develop more effective public policy. He has co-edited Culture and Public Action, and History, Historians and Development Policy.
One stream of his current work examines the determinants of citizen engagement in poor societies, with a goal towards understanding how best to mobilize citizens to improve public services and alleviate poverty. Another line of work studies the inter-relationship between social and economic mobility in India. Jointly with Ghazala Mansuri, he is currently working on the World Bank's Policy Research Report on Localizing Development: Does Participation Work?
Dr. Rao obtained a BA (Economics, Statistics, Sociology) from St. Xavier's College - Bombay (now Mumbai), a PhD (Economics) from the University of Pennsylvania, was a post-doctoral fellow at the Economics Research Center and an Associate of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies at the University of Chicago, and taught at the University of Michigan and Williams College before joining the World Bank's Research Department in 1999.
He serves on the editorial boards of several journals and is a member of the Social Development Board of the World Bank, the Advisory Committee of the Successful Societies Program at CIFAR, and advises research institutes and NGOs in India, the US, and the UK.
Read his article, Participatory Development Reconsidered.