NSF Grant for Doctoral Program on Inequality Will Enhance the Study of India at Brown

10/19/09: A prestigious award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to build a doctoral program focused on the causes and consequences of inequality in developing countries will advance the study of India at Brown.The program will focus on four countries in the midst of rapid change – Brazil, China, India, and South Africa – with the view that inequality is a major obstacle to sustaining economic development and democratic governance in these societies.

International collaborations and fieldwork will be an essential part of the program. In addition to the NSF arrangement, Brown has already developed relationships with institutions abroad, including the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi. CSDS will support Brown faculty and graduate student research in India, and Brown will in turn host faculty and students affiliated with CSDS.

Brown’s Graduate Program in Development will stress interdisciplinary approaches to understanding inequality. Training will also emphasize policy-relevant research. Brown faculty are currently engaged in a variety of research projects on issues of inequality in India. The NSF grant will provide support for these and new initiatives. On the topic of economic markets and inequality, Professor of Economics Andrew Foster is collaborating with the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) in New Delhi to study how the emergence and integration of markets is changing income distribution and mobility in rural India. Foster is also studying how air quality regulations disparately impact people from different social classes in New Delhi.

Kaivan Munshi, professor of economics, and Nancy Luke, assistant professor of sociology, are collaborating on two studies on public health and inequality. They have researched how resource disparities between sexual partners influence risk behavior and overall health in India and Kenya. Munshi and Luke are also developing a project to evaluate how communities in India respond to the failures of market institutions and the public health system to provide basic health services. Brown faculty also study the relationship between governance and inequality in India. Associate Professor of Sociology Patrick Heller researches how forms of local governance affect the participation of the poor in Brazil, India, South Africa. Professor of Political Science Ashutosh Varshney is leading a four-country collaborative study on political engagement and ethnic strife.

The Graduate Program in Development will be housed at the Watson Institute and directed by Barbara Stallings, the William R. Rhodes Research Professor, and Heller.

By Year of India Coordinator Anastasia Aguiar ’09.

Read the University’s press release here.