Kaushik Basu

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Kaushik Basu
Born (1952-01-09) 9 January 1952 (age 69)
Spouse(s)Alaka Malwade Basu
InstitutionCornell University
World Bank
School or
New Keynesian economics
Alma materUniversity of Delhi (B.A.)
London School of Economics, University of London(MSc, PhD)
InfluencesDavid Hume, Bertrand Russell, Amartya Sen, Kenneth Arrow
AwardsPadma Bhushan (2008)
The National Mahalanobis Memorial Medal (1989)
UGC-Prabhavananda Award for Economics (1990)
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

Kaushik Basu (born 9 January 1952) is an Indian economist who was Chief Economist of the World Bank from 2012 to 2016.[1][2] He is the C. Marks Professor of International Studies and Professor of Economics at Cornell University, and academic advisory board member of upcoming Plaksha University.[3] He began a three-year term as President of the International Economic Association in June 2017. From 2009 to 2012, during the United Progressive Alliance's second term, Basu served as the Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Kaushik Basu was born in Kolkata, India, where he attended St. Xavier's Collegiate School. In an autobiographical essay he noted that finishing school in 1969 he was caught in a dilemma. His father wanted him to study physics. But those were revolutionary times and he wanted to study nothing. They settled on economics as half-way compromise between physics and nothing.[citation needed] In 1969 he moved to Delhi to do his undergraduate studies in Economics, from St. Stephen's College, Delhi. He then attended London School of Economics and was awarded MSc in Economics from University of London in 1974. After earning his master's degree, Basu was supposed to move to England to study law and take over his father's legal practice, but he had fallen in love with the concept of logic and deductive reasoning and became fascinated by Amartya Sen's work.[5] He remained at the London School of Economics, University of London for his PhD, from 1974 to 1976.[6] He completed his PhD at University of London under the tutelage of Amartya Sen. He has received honorary doctorates from Lucknow University, Lucknow, in 2011, Assam University, Silchar, in 2012, Fordham University, New York, in 2013, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, in 2013, University of Bath, U.K., in 2016, on the occasion of the University's fiftieth anniversary, and the Jadavpur University Kolkata in 2018.[7]

Personal life and beliefs[edit]

Kaushik Basu is married to Alaka Malwade Basu with two children, Karna and Diksha. Alaka is a professor at Cornell's Department of Development Sociology and has been a visiting professor at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

Economic and political views[edit]

Kaushik Basu believes that good moral qualities are essential for growth and development within the economy. Honesty, trustworthiness and integrity are important qualities that need to be inculcated in an individual for personal development as well as within the society for development. Basu also feels the need to promote quality thinking in government and public debate.[8]

In the 1992 book, Lectures in Industrial Organization Theory, and in some recent works, he has espoused a "focal point approach" to law and economics. The focal point approach argues that the law cannot change the payoff functions of individuals and the game that people play in life since a law is nothing but some ink on paper (words written down somewhere). Hence, laws can influence behavior, to the extent they do, only by changing people's expectations of what others may do; and by shifting the focal point in strategic environments. This altered view of law and economics sheds light on how the law impacts on outcomes and why there is such a large gap between the law and its implementation.

Views on bribery[edit]

In his paper, 'Why, for a class of Bribes, the act of Giving Bribes should be treated as legal", Basu refers to certain bribes as 'Harassment Bribes' that are given to get what a person is legally entitled to such as a ration card or a passport. In such cases, only the act of taking a bribe should be illegal. This will cause a divergence in the interests of the bribe giver and taker and the bribe giver will be willing to co-operate to help the bribe taker get caught. This view has been under a lot of public debate.[9]


Over the years Basu has held visiting professorships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, the Université catholique de Louvain's Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, and the London School of Economics, where he was a distinguished visitor in 1993. Additionally, he was a visiting scientist at the Indian Statistical Institute, a public university in Kolkata, India.

Before his appointment as the World Bank's Chief Economist, Basu was the Chief Economic Adviser to India's Ministry of Finance while on leave from Cornell University where he is Professor of Economics and the C. Marks Professor of International Studies. A Fellow of the Econometric Society and recipient of the Mahalanobis Memorial Medal, Basu has published scientific papers in development economics, game theory, industrial organisation, political economy, the economics of child labour,[10] and crafted the traveller's dilemma.[11]

In 1992 he founded the Centre for Development Economics at the Delhi School of Economics, and served as its first Executive Director until 1996.[12]

His entry into government in 2009 was a new experience. In an interview with the Bengali magazine Desh, he said his earlier experience of government, when he was setting up CDE, was not a happy one. Letters and phone calls were met with no response. In desperation he went to see the then Finance Minister, Manmohan Singh. Many bureaucrats saw him waiting to meet the Minister. Thereafter their behaviour changed so markedly that he toyed with the idea of writing to the Minister to visit him periodically but not to disturb the Minister, just to sit in his waiting area for a while and go away.

Kaushik Basu is a columnist for BBC News Online, the Hindustan Times, Business Standard and is the author of several books on economics and a play, Crossings at Benaras Junction, which was published in The Little Magazine (vol. 6, 2005). He is the editor of the Oxford Companion to Economics in India, published by Oxford University Press (February 2007), which is a compendium on the Indian economy.

On 5 September 2012, he was appointed Chief Economist at the World Bank.[2]

Kaushik Basu was the president of the Human Development and capabilities association founded by Amartya Sen which promotes high quality research in areas of human development and capability. He is the Editor of Social Choice and Welfare, Associate Editor of Japanese Economic Review, and is on the Board of Editors of the World Bank Economic Review. He has been elected to take over as president of the International Economic Association in June 2017, and to serve a three-year term thereafter.

Kaushik Basu is the motivation behind Arthapedia, an online portal that provide explanations to the concepts used in Indian public policy to assist its understanding among citizens.[13]

He created Dui-doku, a competitive two-player version of Sudoku.[14]

While working at the World Bank, Basu also taught courses on game theory at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.[15] He writes monthly columns for Project Syndicate.[16]

He has been the on the Social Sciences jury for the Infosys Prize from 2011, serving as Jury Chair from 2012.[17]

Basu currently teaches at Cornell University, where he has a joint appointment as an economics professor in the Department of Economics and the SC Johnson College of Business.

Awards and honours[edit]

  • Padma Bhushan, Government of India, 2008[18]
  • Served as President of the Human Development and Capabilities Association.[19]
  • Doctorate of Humane Letters, Fordham University, 2013.[20]
  • D.Litt (Honoris Causa), IIT (Bombay), India 2013.
  • Gold Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse, College Historical Society, Trinity College, Dublin, November 2014.
  • Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa), University of Bath, Bath, U.K. 2016.
  • Dean’s Medal for Visionary Leadership 2018. Brandeis University International Business School, 2018.
  • D.Litt (Honoris Causa), Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India 2018.
  • Laurea Honoris Causa, Universita degli studi di Firenze, Florence, Italy 2018.



  • Basu, Kaushik (1980). Revealed preference of government. Cambridge University Press.
  • Basu, Kaushik The Less Developed Economy: A Critique of Contemporary Theory, Basil Blackwell, 1984.
  • Basu, Kaushik Agrarian Structure and Economic Development, Harwood Academic Publishers, 1990. This book is part of the series Fundamentals of Pure and Applied Economics edited by J. Lesourne and H. Sonnenschein.
  • Basu, Kaushik. Economic Graffiti: Essays for Everyone. Oxford University Press. 1991
  • Basu, Kaushik. Lectures in Industrial Organization Theory. Blackwell Publishers. 1992
  • Basu, Kaushik; Nayak, Pulin Development Policy and Economic Theory, Oxford University Press, 1992.
  • Basu, Kaushik; Majumdar, Mukul; Mitra, Tapan Capital, Investment and Development, Basil Blackwell, 1993.
  • Basu, Kaushik Agrarian Questions, Oxford University Press, 1994.
  • Basu, Kaushik; Suzumura, Kotaro; Pattanaik, Prasanta (1995). Choice, welfare, and development: a festschrift in honour of Amartya K. Sen. Oxford New York: Clarendon Press Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198287896.
  • Basu, Kaushik. Of People, Of Places: Sketches from an Economist's Notebook. Oxford University Press. 1994.
  • Basu, Kaushik; Subrahmanyam, Sanjay Unravelling the Nation: Sectarian Conflict and India's Secular Identity, Penguin paperback, New Delhi, 1996.
  • Basu, Kaushik Analytical Development Economics, The MIT Press, 1997, ISBN 0-262-02423-3.
  • Basu, Kaushik. Prelude to Political Economy: A Study of the Social and Political Foundations of Economics. Oxford University Press. 2000.
  • Basu, Kaushik Readings in Political Economy, Blackwell Publishing, 2003.
  • Basu, Kaushik; Horn, Henrik; Roman, Lisa; Shapiro, Judith International Labor Standards, Blackwell Publishing, 2003.
  • Basu, Kaushik India's Emerging Economy: Performance and Prospects in the 1990s and Beyond, The MIT Press, 2004, ISBN 0-262-02556-6.
  • Basu, Kaushik (2005). Collected Papers in Theoretical Economics, Volume 1: Development, Markets, And Institutions. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-566761-1.
  • Basu, Kaushik. Collected Papers in Theoretical Economics, Volume 2: Rationality, Games And Strategic Behaviour. Oxford University Press. 2005.
  • Basu, Kaushik Oxford Companion to Economics in India, Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
  • Basu, Kaushik Beyond the Invisible Hand. Groundwork for a New Economics, Princeton University Press, 2010, Paperback, 2016. (French edition, 2017.)
  • Basu, Kaushik An Economist's Miscellany, Oxford University Press, 2011
  • The Republic of Beliefs. Princeton University Press. 2018. ISBN 9780691177687.

Research papers[edit]

  • Isolated and Proximate Illiteracy, with James E. Foster and S. Subramaniam, Economic and Political Weekly, 2000
  • India and the Global Economy, Economic and Political Weekly, 2001
  • Is Literacy Shared Within Households? Theory and Evidence from Bangladesh, with Ambar Narayan and Martin Ravillion, 2001
  • Strategy for Economic Reform in West Bengal, with Abhijit Banerjee, Pranab Bardhan, Mrinal Dutta Chaudhuri, Maitreesh Ghatak and Ashok Sanjar Guha, Economic and Political Weekly, 2002
  • The Collective Model of the Household and an Unexpected Implication for Child Labor Hypothesis and an Empirical Test, with Ranjan Ray, 2002
  • EMS and Partyless Panchayats, with Abhijit Banerjee, Pranab Bardhan, Mrinal Dutta Chaudhuri, Maitreesh Ghatak and Ashok Sanjar Guha, Economic and Political Weekly, 2003
  • Contract Farming, with Abhijit Banerjee, Pranab Bardhan, Mrinal Dutta Chaudhuri, Maitreesh Ghatak and Ashok Sanjar Guha, Economic and Political Weekly, 2003
  • New Empirical Development Economics, Economic and Political Weekly, 2005
  • Beyond Nandigram: Industrialisation in West Bengal, with Abhijit Banerjee, Pranab Bardhan, Mrinal Datta Chaudhuri, Maitreesh Ghatak and others, Economic and Political Weekly, 2007
  • Practicality in Economics, Economic and Political Weekly, 2007
  • India's Dilemmas: The Political Economy of Policymaking in a Globalised World, Economic and Political Weekly, 2008
  • China and India: Idiosyncratic Paths to High Growth, Economic and Political Weekly, 2009
  • The Economics of Foodgrain Management in India , 2010
  • India's Foodgrain Policy: An Economic Theory Perspective, Economic and Political Weekly, 2011
  • Understanding Inflation and Controlling it, Economic and Political Weekly, 2011
  • Why, for a Class of Bribes, the Act of Giving a Bribe should be Treated as Legal, Economic and Political Weekly, 2011[21]
  • The evolving dynamics of global economic power in the postcrisis world: Revelations from a new Index of Government Economic Power, with Kaushik Basu, Supriyo De, Rangeet Ghosh and Shweta[22]
  • Strategic Theory for Central Banking: How to Influence Exchange Rates without Affecting Reserves, 2011[23]
  • Minimum Wage Laws and Unemployment Benefits, When Labor Supply is a Household Decision, 2002, with Joseph Stiglitz and Garance Genicot [24]



  1. ^ "Basu, Kaushik". Library of Congress. Retrieved 17 July 2014. CIP t.p. (Kaushik Basu) data sheet (b. Jan. 9, 1952)
  2. ^ a b "World Bank Appoints Kaushik Basu Chief Economist" (Press release). World Bank. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Plaksha | Reimagining Technology Education and Research". plaksha.org. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  4. ^ [1] Archived 8 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Rasheeda Bhagat. "Business Line : Features / Life : Kaushik gets candid". Thehindubusinessline.com. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  6. ^ Business Standard (17 September 2009). "Kaushik Basu tipped for CEA's post". Business-standard.com. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  7. ^ "Ex-CEA Kaushik Basu says slowing GDP growth cause for concern". The Economic Times. 25 December 2018. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  8. ^ Business Standard (3 May 2011). "Lunch with BS: Kaushik Basu". Business-standard.com. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  9. ^ http://finmin.nic.in/workingpaper/act_giving_bribe_legal.pdf
  10. ^ Kaushik Basu and Pham Hoang Van (June 1998). "The Economics of Child Labor". American Economic Review. 88 (3): 412–427. Bibcode:2003SciAm.289d..84B. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1003-84. PMID 14513522.
  11. ^ Kaushik Basu (May 1994). "The Traveler's Dilemma: Paradoxes of Rationality in Game Theory". American Economic Review. 84 (2): 391–395.
  12. ^ "Kaushik Basu appointed eco advisor to FM". The Times of India. 9 December 2009.
  13. ^ [2] Archived 5 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Goldstein, Jacob (6 September 2012). "Two-Player Sudoku, Invented by the World Bank's New Chief Economist". NPR's Planet Money. Retrieved 7 September 2012.
  15. ^ Lopez, Julyssa (27 March 2013). "World Bank Chief Economist Gives Students Lessons on 'Game Theory'". GW Today. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  16. ^ "Kaushik Basu - Project Syndicate". Project Syndicate. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  17. ^ "Infosys Prize - Jury 2020". www.infosys-science-foundation.com. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  18. ^ Business Standard (8 December 2009). "Kaushik Basu assumes office as CEA". Business-standard.com. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  19. ^ http://www.kaushikbasu.org/Kaushik%20BasuCV.pdf
  20. ^ Blog, News (22 May 2013). "Fordham Notes: Kaushik Basu's GBA Commencement Address".
  21. ^ "EPW". Epw.in. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  22. ^ http://www.kaushikbasu.org/Index%20of%20Government%20Economic%20Power.pdf
  23. ^ http://www.kaushikbasu.org/Strategic%20Theory%20for%20Central%20Banking.pdf
  24. ^ https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/jstiglitz/sites/jstiglitz/files/Mininmum%20Wage%20Laws%20and%20Unemployment%20Benefits,%20When%20Labor%20is%20a%20Household%20Decision.pdf

External links[edit]

Educational offices
Preceded by
Frances Stewart
President of the Human Development and Capability Association
September 2010 – September 2012
Succeeded by
Tony Atkinson
Business positions
Preceded by
Justin Yifu Lin
World Bank Chief Economist
Succeeded by
Paul Romer