Krishna B. Kumar

Photo of Krishna Kumar
Vice President, International; Distinguished Chair in International Economic Policy; Director, Initiative for Global Human Progress, Pardee RAND Graduate School; Senior Economist
Santa Monica Office

Education

Ph.D. in economics, University of Chicago; M.S. in computer science, University of Wisconsin; B.Tech. in mechanical engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

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Overview

Krishna Kumar (he/him) is vice president, International; Distinguished Chair in International Economic Policy; and a senior economist at the RAND Corporation. He is also director of the Initiative for Global Human Progress at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, where he teaches economic development. He previously directed RAND's Labor and Population research unit.

Kumar has led or co-led projects to develop a blueprint for the economic development of North Korea, find mutually beneficial opportunities for Syrian refugees and host countries in the Middle East, study informal labor markets in Bangladesh, develop a comprehensive model of U.S. labor market inequality, calculate the gross regional product of the Kurdistan Region–Iraq, implement a labor force survey to collect data for the Kurdistan Regional Government to understand the region's unemployment rate, and develop a data collection system. He has conducted a randomized control trial evaluation of an agricultural training program in China to improve farmer decisions and evaluated the socioeconomic impact on the working poor of moving into permanent housing in India. He has also studied the effect of U.S. federal funding of life sciences research on university R&D and commercialization, the role of economic and social policies in Mexico's development, and public policy on Indian entrepreneurship, and conducted a comparative analysis of the Indian and Chinese education systems.

Kumar holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago and has had research published in leading journals focusing on economic growth and development and macroeconomics. 

Pardee RAND Graduate School Courses

Previous Positions

Director, RAND Labor & Population

Recent Projects

  • From Hermit Kingdom to Open for Business: A Blueprint for the Economic Development of North Korea
  • Mutually Beneficial Opportunities for Syrians and Host Countries in Middle Eastern Labor Markets
  • Understanding informal labor in Bangladesh using matched employer-employee surveys
  • Agent-based model of the role of perceptions in income tax evasion
  • Calculating the gross regional product of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Selected Publications

, From Hermit Kingdom to Open for Business: Developing a Blueprint for North Korea’s Economic Development (with Troy Smith, Diana Myers, Timothy Gulden, and Noah Johnson), RR-A1128-1, 2021.

, "What Aspects of Formality Do Workers Value? Evidence from a Choice Experiment in Bangladesh" (with Minhaj Mahmud, Italo A Gutierrez, and Shanthi Nataraj), The World Bank Economic Review, 2020

, Opportunities for All: Mutually Beneficial Opportunities for Syrians and Host Countries in Middle Eastern Labor Markets (with Shelly Culbertson et al), RAND (RR-2653-QFFD), 2018

, Calculating the Gross Regional Product of the Kurdistan Region – Iraq (with Shmuel Abramzon et al), (RR-1405-KRG), 2016

, “University R&D Funding Strategies in a Changing Federal Funding Environment” (with Margaret E. Blume-Kohout and Neeraj Sood), Science and Public Policy (2015), 42(3): 355-368;
doi: 10.1093/scipol/scu054

Matthew Baird, Lindsay Daugherty, Krishna Kumar and Aziza Arifkhanova, "Regional and Gender Differences and Trends in the Anesthesiologist Workforce," Anesthesiology, 2015, 2015

Krishna B. Kumar, John G. Matsusaka, "From Families to Formal Contracts: An Approach to Development," Journal of Development Economics, 90, 2009

Elizabeth M. Caucutt, Krishna B. Kumar, "Africa: Is Aid an Answer?" The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics (Advances), 2008, 8(1), 2008

Honors & Awards

  • 2010 President’s Award, RAND
  • 2008 Silver Merit Award, RAND
  • Awards for teaching excellence, Pardee RAND Graduate School, Duke Fuqua School of Business, Indian School of Business

Languages

English, Tamil

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Calcalist (Economist), Israel; INDUStry Show; Monocle; Talk Media News; Yicai.com

Commentary

  • Refugees cross the border from Ukraine to Poland after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the border checkpoint in Medyka, Poland, March 18, 2022, photo by Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

    For Ukrainian Refugees in Poland, Livelihood Needs Will Follow Humanitarian Ones

    Host countries such as Poland that accept refugees are to be lauded for their humanitarian response. To increase the likelihood that these countries find effective policy solutions, they should view the influx of refugees not merely as a challenge, but as a significant opportunity to be seized for aiding their post-COVID recovery.

    Mar 18, 2022 Wszystko Co Najważniejsze

  • COVAX program vaccines arrive at the Mons. Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport, in San Luis Talpa, El Salvador, March 11, 2021, photo by Jose Cabezas/Reuters

    America Can Still Deliver on Global Vaccine Diplomacy

    It is hard to see how science alone can end the pandemic without the rallying power of global diplomacy. The United States has played a leadership role in previous outbreaks, such as Ebola. It could play a similar role now to help consign the current pandemic to epidemic status.

    Dec 28, 2021 The National Interest

  • Nurse Pamela Omboko prepares a Malaria vaccine for infants at a clinic in Gem, Siaya County, Kenya, October 7, 2021, photo by James Keyi/Reuters

    Malaria Vaccine May Not Eliminate Need to Combat Counterfeit Medicines

    The newly announced malaria vaccine could be a critical tool to combat the tremendous socioeconomic burden malaria causes. But global achievements in reducing malaria cases and deaths in the past decades may be in danger of significant reversal if the problem of counterfeiting continues.

    Nov 8, 2021 The Hill

  • Signage for a job fair is seen on 5th Avenue after the release of the jobs report in New York City, September 3, 2021, photo by Andrew Kelly/Reuters

    The Great Resignation: American Workers Suffering a Crisis of Meaning

    Americans are quitting their jobs in record numbers, creating significant shortages of workers for businesses. To understand and address this issue, policymakers might need to pay attention to noneconomic factors in addition to economic ones.

    Oct 26, 2021 United Press International

  • Senior librarian helping people with computers in a library, photo by Alina555/Getty Images

    Reframing Retirement

    Retirement is a fluid concept. Many retirees would consider returning to the workforce if conditions were right and they could set their own pace. A reframing of the aging and retirement process would allow us to see the issue in a new way.

    Aug 9, 2021 MarketWatch

  • A member of the Armed Forces receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine obtained under the COVAX program in Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 15, 2021, photo by Agustin Marcarian/Reuters

    Split-Screen Recovery from Pandemic Isn't Sustainable

    In a world connected by commerce and the air we breathe, it's hard to see how any COVID-19 recovery that's confined to specific segments of the population is sustainable. Failing to address gaps in the pandemic response would run the risk that a future mutation of this virus could send us scurrying for cover. Again.

    Jul 20, 2021 United Press International

  • People take part in the celebrations for the National Liberation Day near the Arch of Reunification in the city of Pyongyang, North Korea, August 14, 2005, photo by Yuri Maltsev/Reuters

    An Economic Blueprint for North Korea

    It would be simplistic to think that developing detailed blueprints for economic development in North Korea could on its own cut through decades of conflict and mistrust, triggering political and economic reform. But by expanding the terms of the debate it might move the needle on peace.

    Jun 4, 2021 The National Interest

  • Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine labels, March 19, 2021, photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Vaccine Patents Debate Risks Becoming a Sideshow in the Global Battle Against COVID-19

    As COVID-19 cases continue to surge around the world, the debate is raging over whether patents on existing vaccines should be waived. But the global community could view patent waivers as just one of many available tools for speeding up vaccine delivery worldwide.

    May 17, 2021 The Hill

  • Workers stand near the first shipment of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine delivered under the COVAX scheme, at Benito Juarez's International Airport in Mexico City, Mexico, April 22, 2021, photo by Henry Romero/Reuters

    America Could Do More to Get the World Vaccinated

    After waging its own withering battle with COVID-19, the United States appears to be coming to grips with the pandemic and its economy is recovering. Now could be the time for America to play a greater role in global vaccination, both out of generosity and self-interest.

    May 4, 2021 The National Interest

  • President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan with Vice President Kamala Harris looking on, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., March 11, 2021, photo by Tom Brenner/Reuters

    Biden's Child Tax Credit Will Bring Lifetime of Improvement

    The American Rescue Plan is expected to cut child poverty in the United States by more than 40 percent. The benefits are important to families today and could be compounded over the hundred years these children are expected to live.

    Apr 28, 2021 United Press International

  • A Venezuelan refugee with his daughter on his shoulders asks for help at a traffic light in Medellin, Colombia, February 11, 2019, photo by David Himbert/Hans Lucas via Reuters Connect

    Colombia's Trailblazing Model for Refugees

    Colombia recently announced it will give temporary protection status to a million undocumented Venezuelan refugees, with permission to live and work in the country for 10 years. In doing so, it created a new model for managing its own refugee situation and perhaps others elsewhere.

    Mar 26, 2021 Newsweek

  • Figure looks down on another figure from a higher stack of blocks, photo by francescoch/Getty Images

    Shared Prosperity: The Crying Need for Inclusive Globalization

    The disaffection of a wide swath of the American population has been linked to the political polarization of the country, as well as its divisive tendencies. While globalization is not the only reason for this disaffection, it is an apt lens through which to view the revolt against elitism, expertise, and changing demographics.

    Feb 23, 2021 United Press International

  • COVID-19 survivor Irma Gooden celebrates her 100th birthday in Jackson, Georgia, June 16, 2020, photo by Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS/ABACAPRESS.COM via Reuters

    Humans Are Living Longer, So What Do We Do with All This Extra Time?

    Medical and public health improvements over the past century have led to dramatic increases in longevity. New policies may be needed to ensure these extra years become mutually beneficial to all generations.

    Feb 5, 2021 Dallas Morning News

  • The port of Beirut and its construction cranes, destroyed by an explosion of ammonium nitrate on August 4, 2020, photo by Karine Pierre/Hans Lucas Pictures/Reuters

    Addressing Lebanon's Ailments, Acute and Chronic

    The recent explosion in Beirut has again led to calls for political and economic reforms in Lebanon. The country has an economy in crisis, corruption, few job opportunities, and an influx of 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Sustained global investment is needed if Lebanon is to recover over the long run.

    Sep 1, 2020 RealClearWorld

  • Street sign with Wall St. and Main St. signs, photo by BobHemphill/Getty Images

    A Tale of Two Americas

    Economic pain in the United States is obvious and palpable everywhere except in the stock market. This spotlights inequality that has been increasing for decades. Undoing disparities will require firm policy commitment over many years.

    Jul 9, 2020 RealClearPolicy

  • A laboratory technician working on research for a vaccine against COVID-19 in Bern, Switzerland, April 22, 2020, photo by Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

    Needed: A Blueprint for a Post-Vaccine World

    When a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, many in rich countries may be able to afford it while the poor and uninsured may not. The time to plan for equitable access, financing, intellectual property rights, and global production is now.

    May 11, 2020 The Hill

  • Laura Ng, who has lupus and had to recently call at least five pharmacies before she could find a place to fill her hydroxychloroquine prescription, in Seattle, Washington, March 31, 2020, photo by Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

    The Unintended Consequences of a Proposed Cure for COVID-19

    The very discussion of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as therapeutic options against COVID-19 has decreased their availability for proven treatments, exacerbated global shortages, fueled a rampant counterfeit drug market in Africa, and worsened trade tensions. What can be done to deal with these unintended consequences?

    Apr 29, 2020 The Hill

  • Housekeeper washing the dishes wearing a mask, photo by FG Trade/Getty Images

    Protecting Household Employers and Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    As the federal government extends aid to people put out of work by the COVID-19 pandemic, it could do more to help one group of employers and the vital American workers they employ: hundreds of thousands of nannies, housekeepers, and others employed in private homes.

    Apr 23, 2020 The Hill

  • Temporary closed signage is seen at a store in Manhattan following the outbreak of COVID-19, in New York City, March 15, 2020, photo by Jeenah Moon/Reuters

    The Danger of Converting a Health Crisis into a Financial Crisis

    The impulse to do something to help businesses right now is well-intended, but lending to companies that were highly leveraged pre-crisis is a risky bet. Assistance could be best directed toward sound enterprises that are likely to survive and contribute to boosting the economy in the coming years.

    Apr 13, 2020 CNN

  • An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington D.C., June 15, 2005, photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

    Defense Budget Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic

    The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a dramatic toll on the U.S. economy. This could have significant medium-term implications for the U.S. defense budget. The U.S. Department of Defense will need to find efficiencies that are of at least the same magnitude as the recent sequestration.

    Apr 7, 2020 RealClearDefense

  • The U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort passes the Statue of Liberty as it enters New York Harbor during the COVID-19 outbreak, March 30, 2020, photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    After the Coronavirus: America Needs to Reengage with the World, Not Retreat from It

    The COVID-19 pandemic should lead to a further strengthening of the national and international response capacity. The alternative of erecting barriers and closing America off to the world would leave it more vulnerable to the next big shock.

    Apr 1, 2020 USA Today

  • U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer meet with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to wrap up work on coronavirus economic aid legislation, Washington, D.C., March 20, 2020, photo by Mary F. Calvert/Reuters

    The Economic Wallop of COVID-19: Q&A with RAND Experts

    As Washington continues to weigh economic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, here are insights from RAND experts on how aid money might be best allocated, how this crisis compares to the 2008 recession, what business communities can do right now, and more.

    Mar 26, 2020

  • A man wears a mask while walking past the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, March 17, 2020, photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

    The Social Distancing Economy: Q&A with RAND Experts

    Congress and the White House are weighing economic policies to help people acutely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Here are insights from RAND experts on what might be effective in terms of fiscal policy, stimulus spending, and emergency relief to affected workers.

    Mar 18, 2020

  • A woman holding a baby looks out of a window from a shanty in Dharavi, Mumbai, India, October 15, 2009, photo by Arko Datta/Reuters

    Economic Development: A Recipe for Social Cohesion in India

    Given the staggering economic challenges that need attention, how might India refocus its attention away from sectarian divides to economic development? While there is no easy answer, focusing on inclusive growth and development might offer one potential route.

    Mar 16, 2020 The Hill

  • Hands holding up a globe, photo by RapidEye/Getty Images

    Economic Experiments for Global Impact

    Implementing effective solutions for global socioeconomic development and poverty alleviation is a daunting challenge. However, RAND has seen over its decades of work in this area that data-based decisions can improve the welfare of the world's most vulnerable populations.

    Oct 23, 2019 The RAND Blog

  • Syrian refugee metal shop trainees work at one of the vocational training centres near Al Azraq city, Jordan, June 27, 2016

    Jobs Can Improve the Lives of Syrian Refugees and Their Host Communities—and Support Stability in the Middle East

    Host governments, international development agencies, and donor countries like the United States could take several steps to improve Syrian refugee employment. This would increase self-reliance among Syrian refugees and ease pressures on host communities.

    Mar 11, 2019 Foreign Policy

  • Woman seated on the floor, surrounded by bills and receipts, photo by David Sacks/Getty Images

    What the Shutdown Revealed About the Fragility of American Life

    The government shutdown highlighted the lack of resilience many suffer from when they encounter unexpected economic events. The median American family has been losing ground for decades. Policy responses to address this situation will be complex and difficult, but are much needed.

    Feb 11, 2019 RealClearPolicy

  • Technician working in a control room

    Carrier Deal Does Not Carry the Day for American Workers

    Despite the good intentions, pressuring companies like Carrier to keep jobs in the U.S. addresses only the smaller part of the problem, globalization, not the larger one, technological change. A long term solution would be to upgrade the education and training system so that students graduate with skills for life-long learning.

    Dec 21, 2016 United Press International

  • A man working at a 3D printer

    Evolving 21st-Century Workplace and the American Workforce: Trends and Policy Responses

    Three trends have important implications for the future of work: a shifting demography toward older workers, more women, and more diversity; continuing technological change that will increase the demand for skilled workers; and increased globalization.

    Aug 23, 2016 The RAND Blog

  • Job seekers wait to enter a job fair in downtown Denver, Colorado, March 13, 2014

    Labor Day Blog Series: American Worker

    To celebrate Labor Day, the American Worker series of commentaries offers research, reflections, and policy insights on a variety of topics that affect American workers.

    Aug 22, 2016 The RAND Blog

  • Woman using a digital tablet with an elderly man

    Bridging the Global Age Gap

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership offers hope for balancing the world's rapidly aging with its jobless youth. As long-term care for the elderly becomes a pressing need in many developed countries, services such as monitoring and reminding people to take their medications could be provided remotely from countries with an abundance of younger workers.

    Oct 8, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

  • A farmer in China inspects his rice

    Reaching the 80 Percent: Q&A with Krishna Kumar

    Krishna Kumar discusses studying agriculture in China, low-income housing in India, and labor markets in Bangladesh, and how research can help the developing world.

    Jun 15, 2015

  • Simple and complicated paths from a to b, illustration by MicrovOne/Getty Images

    All Models Fail in Certain Situations

    Perhaps fiscal and monetary policies have not been effective in the U.S. because the underlying problems may be structural. A key problem facing the technology-laden globalized U.S. economy is the gap between skills that employers demand and the unemployed have.

    Aug 31, 2011 Financial Times

  • Capitalism Still Works: Our Economy Will Recover Because We Are Innovators and Entrepreneurs

    While soul-searching and even self-loathing are inevitable during a crisis, this is no time for America to shy away from a capitalist system that has produced decades of economic growth, writes Krishna Kumar.

    Sep 17, 2009 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • A Laid-Off Child Is a Terrible Mind to Waste

    Published commentary by RAND staff: A Laid-Off Child Is a Terrible Mind to Waste, in Rediff.

    Nov 10, 2006 Rediff

  • 'There Is Still So Much Infosys in Me'

    'There Is Still So Much Infosys in Me', in Rediff

    Aug 1, 2006 Rediff

Publications