Krishna B. Kumar

Krishna B. Kumar
Vice President, International; Distinguished Chair in International Economic Policy; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School; Senior Economist
Santa Monica Office


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

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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 a professor 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, advance global citizenship in America, 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; Director, International Research

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

Kumar, Krishna B., Shelly Culbertson, Louay Constant, Shanthi Nataraj, Fatih Unlu, Kathryn E. Bouskill, Joy S. Moini, Katherine Costello, Gursel Rafig oglu Aliyev, and Fadia Afashe, Opportunities for All: Mutually Beneficial Opportunities for Syrians and Host Countries in Middle Eastern Labor Markets, RAND Corporation (RR-2653-QFFD), 2018

Abramzon, Shmuel, Nicholas E. Burger, Peter Glick, Krishna B. Kumar, Cheryl K. Montemayor, Nelly Josefina Mejia Gonzalez, Shanthi Nataraj, Francisco Perez-Arce, and Claude Messan Setodji, Calculating the Gross Regional Product of the Kurdistan Region — Iraq, RAND Corporation (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
  • Huddleson award for teaching excellence, Pardee RAND Graduate School, Duke Fuqua School of Business, Indian School of Business


English, Tamil

Recent Media Appearances

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