Ravi Kanbur is T. H. Lee Professor of World Affairs, International Professor of Applied Economics and Management, and Professor of Economics at Cornell University. He holds an appointment tenured both in the Department of Applied Economics and Management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and in the Department of Economics in the College of Arts and Sciences.

He holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Cambridge and a doctorate in economics from the University of Oxford. He has taught at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Essex, Warwick, Princeton and Columbia.

Ravi Kanbur has also served on the staff of the World Bank, as Economic Adviser, Senior Economic Adviser, Resident Representative in Ghana, Chief Economist of the African Region of the World Bank, and Principal Adviser to the Chief Economist of the World Bank.

Professor Kanbur's main areas of interest are public economics and development economics. His work spans conceptual, empirical, and policy analysis. He is particularly interested in bridging the worlds of rigorous analysis and practical policy making. His vita lists over 125 publications, covering topics such as risk taking, inequality, poverty, structural adjustment, debt, agriculture, and political economy. He has published in the leading economics journals such as American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Review of Economic Studies, Journal of Economic Theory,and Economic Journal.

The honors he has received include the Quality of Research Discovery Award of the American Agricultural Economics Association and an Honorary Professorship at the University of Warwick.

Ravi Kanbur was born in India and brought up in India and in England.

He joined IZA as a Research Fellow in September 2007.



IZA Discussion Paper No. 10721

Standard income inequality indices can be interpreted as a measure of welfare loss entailed in departures from equality of outcomes, for egalitarian social welfare functions defined on the distribution of outcomes. But such a welfare interpretation has been criticized for a long time on the grounds that these indices are...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10692

Should public investment be targeted to big cities or to small towns, if the objective is to minimize national poverty? To answer this policy question we extend the basic Todaro-type model of rural-urban migration to the case of migration from rural areas to two potential destinations, secondary town and big...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10637

This review is framed around the exploration of a central hypothesis: A shift in public investment towards secondary towns from big cities will improve poverty reduction performance. Of course the hypothesis raises many questions. What exactly is the dichotomy of secondary towns versus big cities? What is the evidence for...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10636
forthcoming in: Oxford University Press Handbook on Structural Tansformation

This paper explores the question of structural transformation and income distribution through the eyes of the pioneer in such analysis, Simon Kuznets. It argues that his 1955 paper stands the test of time in providing insights which are relevant to understanding current phenomena like the evolution of Chinese inequality. The...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 10635

This paper argues that after a quarter century of sharp and sustained increase, Chinese inequality is now plateauing and even turning down. The argument is made using a range of data sources and a range of measures and perspectives on inequality. The evolution of inequality is further examined through decomposition...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9972

This paper proposes an overlapping generations multi-sector model of the labor market for developing countries with three heterogeneities – heterogeneity within self-employment, heterogeneity in ability, and heterogeneity in age. We revisit an iconic paradox in a class of multi-sector labor market models in which the creation of high-wage employment exacerbates...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9204
Haroon Bhorat, Ravi Kanbur, Benjamin Stanwix

Although the sectors and fraction of workers covered are small given the low rates of formality and urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), as the number of covered workers grows wage regulation will become increasingly significant. We find that higher minimum wage values are associated with higher GDP per capita. Importantly,...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 5845
revised version forthcoming in: Economic Journal [Online First]

Two stylized representations are often found in the academic and policy literature on informality and formality in developing countries. The first is that the informal (or unregulated) sector is more competitive than the formal (or regulated) sector. The second is that contract enforcement is easier in the formal sector than...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 4406
revised version forthcoming in : Journal of Economic Inequality

In many markets in developing countries, especially in remote areas, middlemen are thought to earn excessive profits. Non-profits come in to counter what is seen as middlemen's market power, and rich country consumers pay a "fair-trade" premium for products marketed by such non-profits. This paper provides answers to the following...

IZA Discussion Paper No. 4186

The informality discourse is large and vibrant, and is expanding rapidly. But there is a certain conceptual incoherence to the literature. New definitions of informality compete with old definitions leading to a plethora of alternative conceptualisations. While some individual studies may apply a tight definition consistently, the literature as a...