Kunal Sen
University of Manchester
Kunal Sen was educated at Elphinstone College, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and Rutgers University, USA. He is currently Professor of Development Economics at the Institute of Development Policy and Management (IDPM), University of Manchester, UK, and Associate Director of the Brooks World Poverty Institute. His main research areas are economic growth, the analysis of poverty and labour markets, international trade and finance.  His current research examines firm dynamics in the informal sector, the political economy determinants of economic growth, and the role of institutions in economic development. Some of the current research is being carried out within the DFID-UK funded Effective States and Inclusive Development (ESID) Research Centre, based in the University of Manchester (, of which he is the Joint Research Director. Until 2011, Professor Sen was the Chair of the British Association for South Asian Studies, one of the world’s largest learned societies on South Asia. Professor Sen’s recent books are State-Business Relations and Economic Development in Africa and India, London: Routledge 2012; Trade Policy, Inequality and Performance in Indian Manufacturing, London: Routledge 2008, International Competitiveness, Investment and Finance: A Case-study of India (with A.G. Kumar and R. Vaidya), London: Routledge 2003, and Saving, Investment and Growth in India (with P. Athukorala), Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002. He has been awarded the Sanjaya Lall Prize in 2006 and Dudley Seers Prize in 2003 for his publications. He is member of the ESRC Peer Review College, and South Asia Area Panel of the British Academy, as well as Research Fellow of IZA, Bonn.

Articles By Kunal Sen
Rags to riches? Understanding social mobility in India
Posted On: 13 Nov 2017

To what extent is an individual’s status in society determined by the position of his or her parents? Analysing data from the Indian Human Development Survey, 2011-2012, this column finds that the probability of large intergenerational, occupational ascents in India is very low, and in fact, many face high risk of downward mobility.
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Do Gram Panchayat leaders favour their own constituencies in MNREGA fund allocation?
Posted On: 19 Dec 2016

Topics:   Political Economy

Political incentives are known to play a role in the allocation of public resources from upper- to lower-tier governments. This column seeks to examine whether ruling parties in local governments favour their own constituencies in allocating MNREGA funds, if they target their core supporters or swing voters, and if this has any electoral returns.
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MNREGA, 10 years on: Glass half-full or half-empty?
Posted On: 18 Mar 2016

Tags:   MNREGA

In this article, Kunal Sen, Professor of Development Economics and Policy at the University of Manchester, evaluates whether MNREGA has achieved its broader development objectives. He further analyses why the programme’s implementation has been challenging, and what the implications of weak implementation have been for its objectives.

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Boom and Bust: Institutional causes of India’s growth slowdown in 2011
Posted On: 22 Dec 2015


The slowdown in India’s growth in 2011 is generally attributed to the global financial crisis and domestic policy paralysis. In this article, Kunal Sen argues that the high growth rates in the 2000s were driven by ‘closed deals’ between the political and business elites. Mobilisation of the masses against corruption and actions by accountability institutions in 2011 disrupted this trend and halted the growth.
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What explains the increasing use of contract workers in Indian manufacturing?
Posted On: 29 Oct 2014

Topics:   Jobs , Trade

Contract workers constituted about one-fourth of all workers in formal manufacturing in India in 2008. This column analyses the extent to which trade liberalisation and lack of labour reforms explain the increasing use of contract workers. It finds that in the presence of labour rigidities, increasing import penetration contributes to the ‘flexibilisation’ of the workforce.
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The puzzle of declining labour intensity in organised Indian manufacturing
Posted On: 25 Apr 2014

Topics:   Jobs

It is surprising to note that labour intensity in the organised manufacturing sector in India, particularly in industries with greater labour requirements, has shown a sustained decline over the past three decades. This column finds that the key explanation is trade reforms that targeted capital goods and brought their prices down over time. This inadvertently incentivised firms to invest in machines and employ fewer workers
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Helping India’s informal manufacturing sector to grow
Posted On: 09 Jan 2013

India’s informal manufacturing sector is dominated by small household enterprises that keep everything within the family – but these firms are often the least productive. Why aren’t these small enterprises making the changes needed to bloom and grow? This column asks whether the problem is access to finance and what can be done about it.
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