Rohini Pande recognized by the Infosys Foundation for research "of great value to all emerging economies"

November 15, 2022

Rohini pande in an Infosys graphicRohini Pande has been awarded the 2022 Infosys Prize for Social Science, among the largest awards in India recognizing excellence in science and research. The prize was announced in a press conference in Bangalore, streamed live on November 15, 2022.

Pande is Henry J. Heinz II Professor of Economics, Director of the Economic Growth Center (EGC), and Director of Inclusion Economics at Yale University. EGC now has two faculty members who have won the Infosys Prize: Kaivan Munshi was a winner in 2016.

According to the citation, the prize was awarded to Pande, “for her outstanding research on subjects of key importance, including governance and accountability, women’s empowerment, the role of credit in the lives of the poor, and the environment. Her empirical findings, based on diverse methodologies, offer major promise and potential for policy design in emerging economies, including India.” Read the full citation below.

Kaushik Basu, Professor of Economics at Cornell University and former Chief Economist of the World Bank who served as Jury Chair, said, “Rohini’s creativity, grit, and prolific research output are not only of great value to all emerging economies, including India, but an inspiration for young economists venturing into the exciting world of research.” 

The Infosys Prize is awarded annually since 2008  by the Infosys Trust, a not-for-profit organization set up by Infosys, is an Indian multinational information technology company that provides business consulting, information technology and outsourcing services.

According the to the Infosys Foundation website, the prize “endeavors to elevate the prestige of science and research in India and inspire young Indians to choose a vocation in research.” Infosys Prizes are also given in five other fields: Engineering and Computer Sciences, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences. The honor includes a gold medallion and the equivalent of $100,000 USD in Rupees.

The Infosys Prize 2022 in Social Sciences is awarded to Prof. Rohini Pande for her outstanding research on subjects of key importance, including governance and accountability, women’s empowerment, the role of credit in the lives of the poor, and the environment. Her empirical findings, based on diverse methodologies, offer major promise and potential for policy design in emerging economies, including India.

Prof. Rohini Pande is an outstanding applied economist. Her work shows command over all modern empirical methods for finding or creating exogenous variation in the data and thereby achieving identification of cause and effect: Natural variation from policy reforms, field experiments, creative use of administrative and survey data and structural estimation. Much of her research focuses on India, a significant proportion is about gender issues. The questions are motivated by India’s key challenges, such as governance, institutions and the functioning of democracy, women’s empowerment, credit constraints for the poor and, lately, the environment. Her work is of outstanding quality and has appeared in leading journals, such as American Economic Review, Econometrica, Quarterly Journal of Economics, and Science.

In work studying the effect of mandated representation of women and marginalized groups in local government, Prof. Pande finds that the mandates improved the chances of such candidates winning elections even after the mandates were lifted, and had significant role model effects on younger generations’ aspirations and educational attainment. Furthermore, exposure to female politicians reduced gender stereotypes.

In a highly cited paper on bank expansion in rural India, Pande finds that this significantly reduced rural poverty, without affecting urban poverty, through increased deposit mobilization and credit disbursement by banks in rural areas. Her work on microfinance has helped better understand the role of repayment flexibility, the importance of social interactions and the extent to which within-household dynamics may limit returns to capital for female entrepreneurs.

In a paper examining why Indian children are significantly shorter than ones in many even poorer countries, Pande finds a steep downward slope in heights across birth order, and pins this down to cultural preference for a healthy eldest son