Krishna B. Kumar

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Director, RAND International Research; Distinguished Chair in International Economic Policy; Senior Economist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in economics, University of Chicago; M.S. in computer science, University of Wisconsin

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Krishna Kumar is a senior economist at the RAND Corporation and its director of International Research and director of the Initiative for Global Human Progress at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, where teaches economic development. He holds RAND’s Distinguished Chair in International Economic Policy, and previously directed RAND’s Labor & Population research unit. He has led or co-led projects to find mutually beneficial opportunities for Syrian refugees and host countries in the Middle East, studied informal labor markets in Bangladesh, developed a comprehensive model of U.S. labor market inequality, calculated the gross regional product of the Kurdistan Region—Iraq, implemented a labor force survey to collect data for the Kurdistan Regional Government to understand the region’s unemployment rate, and developed a data collection system. He has worked on strategies to develop the private sector in the Kurdistan region, conducted a randomized control trial evaluation of an agricultural training program in China to improve farmer decisions and evaluated the socio-economic 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, public policy on Indian entrepreneurship, and conducted a comparative analysis of the Indian and Chinese education systems.  His research has been published in leading journals in economic growth and development and macroeconomics. Kumar holds a Ph.D. in economics from The University of Chicago. 

Pardee RAND Graduate School Courses

Previous Positions

Director, RAND Labor & Population

Recent Projects

  • Mutually Beneficial Opportunities for Syrians and Host Countries in Middle Eastern Labor Markets
  • Understanding informal labor in Bangladesh using matched employer-employee surveys
  • The Formal-Informal Labor Nexus and Growth: The Case of Bangladesh
  • 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

, "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

Dirk Krueger, Krishna B. Kumar, "Skill-specific rather than General Education: A Reason for US-Europe Growth Differences?" Journal of Economic Growth, 9(2), 2004

Dirk Krueger, Krishna B. Kumar, "US-Europe differences in technology-driven growth: quantifying the role of education," Journal of Monetary Economics, 51(1), 2004

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


  • Woman seated on the floor, surrounded by bills and receipts

    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

  • All Models Fail in Certain Situations

    A key problem facing the technology-laden globalised US economy is the gap between skills that employers demand and the unemployed have, writes Krishna B. Kumar.

    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