Sonia Bhalotra is Professor of Economics at the University of Essex. She is Principal Investigator on an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) 2020-2025, Co-Investigator ESRC Research Centre on Micro-Social Change at the Institute of Social and Economic Research Essex 2019-2024, and Co-Investigator ESRC Project on Human Rights, Big Data and Technology at the Human Rights Centre in the Law department at Essex, 2015-2021. She is Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) London.

Sonia's research has made contributions in the areas of health, gender and political economy.

Her work has contributed to understanding the creation of human capital, the long run benefits of early life health interventions (clean water, antibiotics, infant care); maternal depression, maternal mortality, domestic violence, childhood mortality; gender inequality; the political economy of public service provision; accountability and the right to health; implementing universal health coverage; parental investments in children; intergenerational mobility, the gender pay gap and women’s labour force participation, and the dynamics of mortality, fertility and sex selection. Her research is set, inter alia, in India, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, America, the UK and Sweden.

She holds or has recently held research awards from the ESRC, Grand Challenges Explorations, Grand Challenges Canada, the British Academy, the Bank of Sweden, Innovations for Poverty Action, the Swedish Research Council, CEDIL, and the International Growth Centre. She is collaborating on a major NIH award led by Professor Maselko at UNC, that allows us to follow up children of a maternal depression trial. She is involved in the Bachpan cohort study incorporating a randomized control trial for maternal depression: see

Sonia has acted as Keynote or Panels on fifteen occasions in the last three years- including a British Academy debate on global inequalities, the gender equality panel at an SDG financing event at the European Investment Bank, and an Academy of Social Science event celebrating Women in Social Science.

She is on the International Advisory Boards of Lancet Women, Academics Stand Against Poverty Yale, The Millennium Nucleus for the Study of the Life Course and Vulnerability Santiago Chile, the Goettingen India Centre and a UNICEF network on adolescents in humanitarian crises. She is on the Peer Review Boards of the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship and the GCRF, Visiting Professor at the University of Gothenburg and Research Fellow at SFI Denmark.

She has recently served on Scientific Committees at the WHO, UNICEF, ILO, British Academy, the European Society of Population Economics Council, the International Review Panel of the Danish Research Council and several ESRC committees and was a CROP Research Fellow at Bergen and a Visiting Professor at Essen.

She has or has had collaborations with academics in Politics, Psychology, Philosophy, Medicine, Law.

Sonia obtained an MPhil and PhD from Oxford and a BSc Hons from Delhi. Prior to joining Essex, Sonia was a Professor at the University of Bristol.

Her AER March 2020 paper was covered in AER Research Highlights: And summarised in this Video:

The IGC/LSE created this video of her paper showing that economic growth improves under women legislators:

Her daughter Sameera made this video of her 2013 paper on cognitive development and infectious disease:

She has written several blogs, some of which can be found here:


IZA Publications

IZA Discussion Paper No. 13056
Sonia R. Bhalotra, Adeline Delavande, Paulino Font Gilabert, Joanna Maselko
IZA Discussion Paper No. 12490
revised version available from authors.
IZA Discussion Paper No. 11878
Journal of the European Economic Association, jvz058, 25 December 2019 (
IZA Discussion Paper No. 11803
r&r in: Review of Economics and Statistics
IZA Discussion Paper No. 11742
Review of Economics and Statistics, 2019, 101 (5), 853 - 864
IZA Discussion Paper No. 11640
R & R, Journal of Political Economy (revised version here)
IZA Discussion Paper No. 11590
R&R Journal of Political Economy. Under revision. Last version: