Shanthi Nataraj

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Associate Director, Personnel, Training, and Health Program, RAND Arroyo Center; Economist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics, University of California, Berkeley; B.S. in environmental engineering, Northwestern University

Media Resources

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Shanthi Nataraj is an economist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She serves as associate director of the RAND Arroyo Center's Personnel, Training, and Health Program. Her research interests include economic development, labor markets, and environmental and resource economics.

In the area of economic development, Nataraj's work focuses on firm growth and employment. She has led a systematic review of the evidence on how labor regulations affect employment in low-income countries, examined the policies of a local development district in Guangzhou, China, to attract and promote growth among high-tech firms, and investigated the impacts of India's trade and industrial policies on firm productivity and employment. Currently, she is part of a team estimating the gross regional product of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and is studying the impacts of privatization on regional employment outcomes in India.

Nataraj's work on labor markets also extends to the United States, where she has developed projections of the future supply of Army and Department of Defense civilian personnel, studied how expectations about labor market conditions affect retention among Army officers, and examined the stay-or-leave decisions of mental health professionals in the military.

In environmental and resource economics, her work focuses on water resources. She has examined how residential water consumers responded to a change in pricing structure, and has co-authored a study that develops a new technique for aiding water managers and other planners to find robust solutions that satisfy multiple objectives.

Nataraj received her Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

Recent Projects

  • Calculation of gross regional product for Kurdistan Region of Iraq
  • Workforce management for Department of Defense, Army civilians
  • Productivity and employment growth among Indian manufacturing firms
  • Drivers of innovation in high-tech clusters
  • Water resources management under uncertainty

Selected Publications

Leslie Martin, Shanthi Nataraj, and Ann Harrison, "In with the Big, Out with the Small: Removing Small-Scale Reservations in India," American Economic Review (forthcoming)

Ann Harrison, Benjamin Hyman, Leslie Martin, and Shanthi Nataraj, "When Do Firms Go Green? Comparing Price Incentives with Command and Control Regulations in India," NBER Working Paper 21763, 2015

Shanthi Nataraj, Francisco Perez-Arce, Sinduja Srinivasan, and Krishna Kumar, "The Impact of Labor Market Regulation on Employment in Low-Income Countries: A Meta-Analysis," Journal of Economic Surveys, 28(3):551-572, 2014

Ann Harrison, Leslie Martin and Shanthi Nataraj, "Learning Versus Stealing: How Important are Market-Share Reallocations to India's Productivity Growth?" World Bank Economic Review, 27(2):202-228, 2013

Joseph R. Kasprzyk, Shanthi Nataraj, Patrick M. Reed, and Robert J. Lempert, "Many Objective Robust Decision Making for Complex Environmental Systems Undergoing Change," Environmental Modelling & Software, 43:55-71, 2013

Shanthi Nataraj and Michael Hanemann, "Does marginal price matter? A regression discontinuity approach to estimating water demand," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 61:198-212, 2011

Shanthi Nataraj, "The Impact of Trade Liberalization on Productivity: Evidence from India's Formal and Informal Manufacturing Sectors," Journal of International Economics, 85:292-301, 2011


  • A laborer lifts a basket of crushed bricks at a construction site in Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 22, 2014

    Informality and Formality: Two Ends of the Employment Continuum

    The staying power of informal employment in developing countries is a concern, because informal employees (e.g., day laborers) tend to receive lower wages, fewer benefits, and fewer legal protections. How can policymakers improve conditions for informal workers?

    Jan 22, 2016 The World Bank Jobs and Development Blog