Anirudh Krishna

Non-Resident Senior Research Fellow

Anirudh Krishna is the Edgar T. Thompson Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University. He received his PhD in Government from Cornell University in 2000; and a Master’s in Economics from Delhi Universityin 1980.

His research investigates how poor communities and individuals in developing countries cope with the structural and personal constraints that result in poverty and powerlessness. His most recent book — The Broken Staircase: The Paradox and the Potential of India’s One Billion, Penguin and Cambridge University Press, 2017 — examines why poverty persists despite rapid growth and addresses ways to overcome inequality of opportunity.

He has authored or co-authored five other books — including One Illness Away: Why People Become Poor and How they Escape Poverty, Oxford, 2010 — and more than seventy journal articles and book chapters. Krishna received an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University, Sweden, in 2011; the Olaf Palme Visiting Professorship from the Swedish Research Council in 2007; the Dudley Seers Memorial Prize in 2005 and 2013; and a best article award of the American Political Science Association in 2002.

Before returning to academia, Krishna spent 14 years with the Indian Administrative Service, managing diverse rural and urban development initiatives (

Professor Krishna is involved in managing and co-ordinating work in the UNU-WIDER project Social mobility in the Global South – concepts, measures, and determinants project, which addresses policy challenges in achieving Goal 10 on reduced inequalities in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda, and how to ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome.