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Sonalde Desai

Professor and Director, NCAER-National Data Innovation Centre (NDIC)

Sonalde Desai is a Professor at NCAER with a joint appointment as Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland. She directs the NCAER-National Data Innovation Centre (NDIC), a newly established Centre by NCAER with its consortium partners, University of Maryland and University of Michigan. She is an internationally known demographer whose work deals primarily with human development in developing countries with a particular focus on gender and class inequalities. While most of her research focuses on India, she has also undertaken comparative studies across South Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. At present, Sonalde Desai is leading the India Human Development Survey (IHDS), India’s only nationally representative panel study with interviews in 2004–05 and 2011–12. The next wave of IHDS is planned for 2019-20. The IHDS is used by over 9,000 users worldwide and has led to nearly 500 papers and dissertations. Desai is a member of the editorial committee of Population and Development Review and has served on the editorial advisory boards of many Indian and international journals. At present, she chairs the International Outreach Committee of the Population Association of America.   

She has published articles in a wide range of Indian and international sociology and demography journals and is a frequent contributor to The Hindu.


  • November 2017-Present: Professor and Centre Director, NCAER-NDIC
  • 2017-October 2018: Senior Fellow and Centre Director, NCAER-NDIC
  • 2009-Present: Senior Fellow, NCAER 
  • 1994-Present: Assistant to Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Maryland. Coordinator Demography Program in Sociology Department
  • 2007-2008: Visiting Scholar, The World Bank Development Research Group (DEC-RG)
  • 2000-2001: Visiting Scholar, National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi
  • 1989-1994: Associate, Research Division, The Population Council, New York
  • 1987-1989: Post-Doctoral Fellow, Labor and Population Program, The RAND Corporation
  • 1986-1987: Post-Doctoral Fellow, Population Research Center, University of Chicago
  • Sum. 1986: Visiting Scholar, Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Education, West Berlin



  • PhD Sociology, Stanford University, Stanford, California, 1987
  • MA Sociology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, 1980
  • BA Sociology and Political Science, University of Bombay, India, 1978
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Research Interests

Human Development