Knowledge for a sustainable world

Professor Vegard Iversen
Professor of Development Economics, Head of Livelihoods and Institutions Department

Livelihoods and Institutions Department

Natural Resources Institute, Faculty of Engineering & Science

+44 (0)1634 88 3225

Vegard Iversen has a PhD in development economics from University of Cambridge and is a Professor in Development Economics and the Head of the Livelihoods and Institutions Department at NRI. He is also a non-resident Senior Research Fellow at UNU-WIDER, Helsinki, and a Senior Research Fellow at the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie).

Vegard joined NRI in September 2018 after 12 years living and working in India. After starting his development career at the Agricultural University of Norway in 1992, he was a Junior Programme Officer in UNDP’s Delhi office from 1993 to 1995. Having completed his PhD in 2000, he spent six years as tenured Faculty at the School of Development Studies (now International Development) at University of East Anglia.

He joined the International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) New Delhi office as a Research Fellow in 2006, followed by four years as a visiting Faculty at Indian Statistical Institute (Delhi). He has been a Professor and Vice Dean at Jindal School of Government and Public Policy (2012-13), an Adjunct Professor at Sanford School of Public Policy’s Duke Semester in India programme (2015-17) and a Professor in the Economics Area, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA). He was closely involved in the drafting of the programmes and the shaping of the identities of two of India’s first Public Policy Schools - at O. P. Jindal Global University and IIMA.

During his India years, he also took on a variety of assignments, including e.g. the India case study for the 2012 World Development Report, which had gender equality as its theme (the World Bank). He provided expert methodological feedback (through KPMG) on the Independent Commission for Aid Impact’s reviews of FCDO programmes across the developing world. He acted in a similar capacity for the Steering Committee overseeing the attempted retrospective evaluation of FCDO’s GBP 250 million investments in the rural livelihoods portfolio in India. He has also taken on evaluation, replication and quality assurance assignments for 3ie.

Vegard has extensive field and data collection experience. His applied research spans the use of modern impact evaluation techniques, mixed methods, behavioural experiments, archival work and the occasional sociological or anthropological detour. Current research covers a variety of themes, including landmark work on social mobility in developing countries (with scholars at Duke and UNU-WIDER) with an edited volume forthcoming with Oxford University Press; rigorous analysis of whether large dams reduce poverty and advance development (through the FutureDAMS consortium, University of Manchester); the use of unique and in-depth survey and behavioural experimental data to study politicians in low-income contexts, including who gets elected for office, whether time in office changes men and women politicians differently, and whether widely encountered stereotypes about politicians in these contexts hold water or not. One line of work is in collaboration with scholars at Auckland, Monash and Oslo, another with scholars at UNU-WIDER, Manchester, Padua and Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. 

From 2012 to 2019 Vegard was the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of South Asian Development: he is now one among four Co-editors of the JSAD. He received the 2009 Dudley Seers Memorial Prize for the best article in Journal of Development Studies (jointly with Richard Palmer-Jones) and has served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Development Studies since 2016.

  • Dams, irrigation and development;
  • Migration (rural-urban and other);
  • Labour markets and social networks;
  • Social mobility;
  • Social accountability;
  • Identity and discrimination;
  • The impacts of women’s representation (in politics; decentralised natural resource management);
  • Impact Evaluation
  • 2018-21: FutureDAMS, University of Manchester. Research Grant. The impacts of large dams on agricultural productivity and poverty.
  • 2017-18: University of Auckland and Monash University: Research grants (small) for joint research project on the impact of time in office on women (and other) politicians.
  • 2014-16: Evaluation (through Oxford Policy Management/EDOREN - of FCDO’s comprehensive support (the DEEPEN programme) to innovative regulation to improve learning in low-cost, private schools in Lagos, Nigeria; 2014-16. The baseline study covered 360 private schools with numeracy and literacy tests administered to 2,450 3rd standard children.
  • 2012: International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie). Research Grant: Replicaton of Jensen and Oster’s research on cable TV and women’s status in rural India.
  • 2011-2012: International Growth Centre (IGC). Research Grant: Does Female Leadership Impact on the Quality of Public Goods? Evidence from a Public Poverty Alleviation Programme in Andhra Pradesh, India. Survey covering 300 Gram Panchayats and 1,500 MNREGA beneficiary households: extraction from and translation (from Telugu) of more than 700 official social audit reports.
  • 2008-2009: Norwegian Research Council. Research Grant: Social networks, labour transactions and outcomes: A theoretical and empirical study of migrant workers and their employers in South-Asia.
  • 2008-2010: ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council, UK)-FCDO joint scheme. Research Grant: The intra-household allocation of resources: cross-cultural tests, methodological innovations and policy implications”, a collaboration between economists and anthropologists using behavioual experiments with married couples to test economic theories of household behaviour in Nigeria, Ethiopia and India (Left project later 2008).
  • 2008-2009: The World Bank, New Delhi. Research grant: Institutional and network-driven barriers to labour market entry: a small, exploratory study of low and unskilled labour markets for youths in (and around) Delhi. In-depth interviews of household and manufacturing employers, workers and recruitment agencies.


  • Iversen, Vegard, Anirudh Krishna and Kunal Sen (eds, 2021): Social Mobility in Developing Countries: Concepts, Methods and Determinants. Oxford University Press.   


  • Chaudhuri, Ananish, Vegard Iversen, Francesca Jensenius and Pushkar Maitra (under review): Who gets elected to political office? Evidence from Village Councils in West Bengal.
  • Chaudhuri, Ananish, Vegard Iversen, Francesca Jensenius and Pushkar Maitra (forthcoming): Time in office and the Changing Gender Gap in Dishonesty: Evidence from Local Politics in India, American Journal of Political Science.
  • Dhillon, Amrita, Vegard Iversen and Gaute Torsvik (2021): ‘Employee referral, social proximity and worker discipline: theory and suggestive evidence from India’, Economic Development and Cultural Change, 69(3): 1003-1030.
  • Iversen, Vegard, Anirudh Krishna and Kunal Sen (2019): ‘Beyond Poverty Escapes: Social Mobility in Developing Countries: A Review Article’, World Bank Research Observer, 34(2): 239-73.
  • Iversen, Vegard and Richard Palmer-Jones (2019): ‘All you need is Cable TV?’, Journal of Development Studies, 55(5): 946-66.
  • Banerjee, Prasenjit, Vegard Iversen, Sandip Mitra, Antonio Nicolo and Kunal Sen (2019): Politicians, Promises and Citizen Welfare: Evidence from a Lab-in-the-Field Experiment in India (under review).     
  • Iversen, Vegard, Anirudh Krishna and Kunal Sen (2017): ‘Rags to Riches’? Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in India’, Economic and Political Weekly, 52(44): 107-114.
  • Afridi, Farzana, Vegard Iversen and M. R. Sharan (2017): ‘Women political leaders, corruption and learning: Evidence from a large public program in India’, Economic Development and Cultural Change, 66(1): 1-30.
  • Puri, Jyotsna, Anastasia Aladysheva, Vegard Iversen, Yashodhan Ghorpade and Tilman Bruck (2017): ‘Can rigorous impact evaluations improve humanitarian assistance?’, Journal of Development Effectiveness, 9(4): 519-42.
  • Iversen, Vegard, Adriaan Kalwij, Arjan Verschoor and Amaresh Dubey (2014): ‘Caste dominance and economic performance in rural India’, Economic Development and Cultural Change, 62(3): 423-57.
  • Afridi, Farzana and Vegard Iversen (2014): ‘Social audits and MGNREGA delivery: Lessons from Andhra Pradesh’India Policy Forum 2013-14, Vol 10: 297-331.
  • Iversen, Vegard, Richard Palmer-Jones and Kunal Sen (2013): ‘On the Colonial Origins of Agricultural Development in India: A Re-examination of Banerjee and Iyer, ‘History, Institutions and Economic Performance’’, Journal of Development Studies, 49(12): 1631-46.
  • Iversen, Vegard, Cecile Jackson, Bereket Kebede, Alistair Munro and Arjan Verschoor (2011): ‘Do spouses realise cooperative gains? Experimental evidence from rural Uganda’, World Development, 39(4): 569-78.
  • Iversen, Vegard and Yashodhan Ghorpade (2011): ‘Misfortune, misfits and what the city gave and took: the stories of South-Indian child labour migrants 1935-2005’, Modern Asian Studies, 45(5): 1177-1226.
  • Iversen, Vegard and Gaute Torsvik (2010): ‘Networks, middlemen and other (urban) labour market mysteries’, Indian Growth and Development Review, 3(1): 62-80.
  • Iversen, Vegard, Kunal Sen, Arjan Verschoor and Amaresh Dubey (2009): ‘Job Recruitment Networks and Migration to Cities in India’, Journal of Development Studies, 45(4): 522-43.
  • Iversen, Vegard and Richard Palmer-Jones (2008): ‘Literacy sharing, assortative mating or what? Labour market advantages and proximate illiteracy revisited’, Journal of Development Studies, 44(6): 797-838. Awarded the Dudley Seers Memorial Prize for the best article published by Journal of Development Studies in 2008.
  • Iversen, Vegard and P. S. Raghavendra (2006): ‘What the signboard hides: Food, caste and employability in small South-Indian eating places’, Contributions to Indian Sociology, 40 (3): 311-41.
  • Iversen, Vegard, Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, Godfrey Bahiigwa, Frank Ellis and Robert James (2006): ‘Private tax collection - remnant of the past or a way forward? Evidence from Rural Uganda’, Public Administration and Development, 26: 317-28.
  • Iversen, Vegard, Birkha Chettry, Paul Francis, Madhu Gurung, Ghanendra Kafle, Adam Pain and Janet Seeley (2006): ‘High value forests, hidden economies and elite capture: Evidence from forest user groups in Nepal’s Terai’, Ecological Economics, 58(1): 93-107.
  • Chettry, Birkha, Paul Francis, Madhu Gurung, Vegard Iversen, Ghanendra Kafle, Adam Pain and Janet Seeley (2005): ‘A Framework for the Analysis of Community Forest Performance in the Terai’, Journal of Forest and Livelihood, 4 (2): 1-16.
  • Iversen, Vegard (2003): ‘Intrahousehold inequality – A challenge for the capability approach?’, Feminist Economics, 9 (2-3): 93-115 (Special issue on the Work and Ideas of Amartya Sen). 23) Iversen, Vegard (2002): ‘Autonomy in Child Labor Migrants’, World Development, 30 (5): 817-34.
  • Wiig, Henrik, Jens B. Aune, Solveig Glomsrød and Vegard Iversen (2001): ‘Structural Adjustment and Soil Degradation in Tanzania - A CGE-model approach with Endogenous Soil Productivity’, Agricultural Economics, 24: 263-87.
  • Brekke, Kjell Arne, Vegard Iversen and Jens B. Aune (1999): ‘Tanzania's soil wealth’, Environment and Development Economics, Vol.4: 333-56.
  • Awarded (together with co-author Richard Palmer-Jones) the Annual Dudley Seers Memorial Prize for the best article in Journal of Development Studies in 2008.               
  • Editor-in Chief, Journal of South Asian Development, 2012-ongoing.
  • Editorial Board Member, Journal of Development Studies, 2016-ongoing.
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