Vidhya Soundararajan

Assistant Professor

Ph.D., Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, 2016

M.Sc., Economics, Madras School of Economics, India. Batch-topper (gold medal), 2008

B.Tech., Information Technology, Madras Institute of Technology, India, 2005


Assistant professor, Economics group, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay, 2021-

Fellow, Global Labor Organization, 2021-present

Research Interests: 

Applied microeconomics, Labour economics, Development Economics.


Firm behaviour, productivity estimation, import competition, contract labour, minimum wages, antitrust laws.

  1. "Contract Employment in Developing Countries,” (with Arnab K. Basu and Nancy Chau). accepted, Handbook of Labor, Human Resources and Population Economics, K. Zimmermann (ed.). 2021. 
  2. Contract Employment as a Worker Discipline Device (with Arnab Basu and Nancy Chau). Journal of Development Economics, 149 (2021): 102601.
  3. Political Activism as a Determinant of Clientelistic Transfers: Evidence from an Indian Public Works Program (with Yanyan Liu and Nancy Chau). European Economic Review, 132 (2021): 103631.
  4. Estimating Small Area Population Density using Satellite Imagery: An Application to Sri Lanka (with Ryan Engstrom and David Newhouse). PLOS ONE, 15(8): e0237063
  5. Wage Fairness in a Subcontracted Labor Market (With Nancy Chau and Arnab Basu). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. 168 (2019): Pages 24-42.
  6. Heterogeneous Effects of Imperfectly Enforced Minimum Wages in Low-Wage Labor MarketsJournal of Development Economics (2019) 140 (2019): 355-374.
  7. Construction workers: amending the laws for more safety. Economic and political weekly. Vol -XLVIII No. 23, June 08, 2013.
  8. Regional inequality compared: the cases of India and Brazil (with Alexandre de Freitas Barbosa and Gerry Rodgers) Indian Journal of Economics, Special Centennial Issue. Vol. XCVI, No. 383. 2016.


Rodgers, Gerry and Soundararajan, Vidhya. 2016. Patterns of Inequality in the Indian Labour Market 1983-2012. Academic Foundation and Institute for Human Development.

Media writings:

  1. How to Successfully Set a Minimum Wage in India, Oct 24 2018. Live Mint.                        
  2. The MSME sector is critical in times of Covid-19, Apr 03, 2020, Hindustan Times
  3. Disentangling the labour laws debate: What does the evidence really say?, May 25, 2020. Hindustan Times
  4. Need focus on removing obstacles to ‘good’ jobs, Jan 20, 2021, Hindustan Times

Grants and Fellowship:

  • Ministry of Corporate Affairs (India) grant (USD 45, 179), 2020-2021  
  • IIMB young faculty research chair, 2016-19
  • Exploratory Research Grant, Private Enterprise Development in Low-Income countries (PEDL), an initiative by CEPR, (co-PI, with Nancy Chau): USD 24,600, 2015-16
  • Research Grant, IFPRI-3ie (Team member, with significant contribution to proposal writing; with Nancy Chau and Yanyan Liu): USD 21,733, 2014-15
  • Exploratory Research Grant, the Tata-Cornell Initiative (PI): USD 5,000, 2012
  • First prize for the best manuscript award at Dyson School, Cornell University, 2016
  • Cornell Graduate School Fellowship (covers tuition and graduate stipend for one year), 2010-11
  • Merit-fellowship at Madras school of Economics, 2007-08

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