Vidhya Soundararajan

I am an applied microeconomist who focuses on Labor Economics and Development Economics. I study labor institutions and policies/regulations and their collective implications for workplaces and workers in developing countries. Improving overall employment levels and worker welfare, and understanding and alleviating impediments to workplace productivity growth are running threads in my research. I obtained my PhD in Applied Economics from Cornell University in 2016.


Twitter: @vidhyasrajan

D-205, IIM Bangalore, Bengaluru 560076

My CV is available here


Contract Employment as a Worker Discipline Device (with Arnab Basu and Nancy Chau), Journal of Development Economics, 149 (2021): 102601 IZA version.

Political activism as a determinant of strategic transfers: Evidence from an Indian public works program. (with Nancy Chau and Yanyan Liu) , European Economic Review 132 (2021): 103631. IZA version.

Estimating Small Area Population Density using Satellite Imagery: An Application to Sri Lanka (with Ryan Engstrom and David Newhouse). PLOS ONE, 15(8): e0237063. World Bank working paper version.

Wage Fairness in a Subcontracted Labor Market (with Nancy Chau and Arnab Basu). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. 168 (2019): 24-42. IZA working paper version

Heterogeneous Effects of Imperfectly Enforced Minimum Wages in Low-Wage Labor Markets, Journal of Development Economics.140 (2019): 355-374.

Regional Inequality Compared: The Cases of India and Brazil (with Barbosa, Alexandre de Freitas and Gerry Rodgers). Indian Journal of Economics, Special Centennial Issue. Vol. XCVI, No. 383. 2016.

Construction workers: amending the laws for more safety. Economic and Political Weekly. Vol -XLVIII No. 23, June 08, 2013.

Working papers

Import Competition, Formalization, and the Role of Contract Labor (with Pavel Chakraborty and Rahul Singh). Ideas for India summary.

What dimensions of women’s empowerment matter most for child nutrition: evidence using nationally representative data from Bangladesh. IFPRI Discussion paper 01192, June, 2012 (with Priya Bhagowalia, Purnima Menon, Agnes Quisumbing). permanent working paper

Work in Progress

Equilibrium Effects of Labor Law Reforms in Frictional Labor Markets (with Ritam Chaurey and Gaurav Chiplunkar)

Books & Book Chapters

“Contract Employment in Developing Countries,” (with Arnab K. Basu and Nancy Chau). Revise & Resubmit, Handbook of Labor, Human Resources and Population Economics, K. Zimmermann (ed.). 2020.

Rodgers, Gerry and Soundararajan, Vidhya. 2016. Patterns of Inequality in the Indian Labour Market 19832012. Academic Foundation and Institute for Human Development.


How to Successfully Set a Minimum Wage in India, Oct 24 2018. Live Mint.

The MSME sector is critical in times of Covid-19, Apr 03, 2020. Hindustan Times

Disentangling the labour laws debate: What does the evidence really say? , May 25, 2020. Hindustan Times

Need focus on removing obstacles to ‘good’ jobs, Jan 20, 2021, Hindustan Times