Development Data Lab

We develop cutting edge data sources and harness the latest analytical tools to help people in poverty around the world achieve their true potential.

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Good policy needs good data.

Data limitations are a major constraint on good policy in developing countries. The sample surveys conventionally used for development policy and research are sparse, geographically imprecise, and weakly integrated. We collect many new kinds of data, including measures of well-being generated from satellite images, data exhaust from government programs, and archival administrative records not previously used for policy design. Our open data platform (the SHRUG) seamlessly stitches these data sources together, making it one of India’s first high-resolution geographic frameworks for socioeconomic analysis.

Our research uses cutting edge econometric and machine learning tools to generate policy-relevant insights that would be difficult to arrive at using other data sources. We focus on understanding how people born into poverty can live fulfilling and productive lives—and which policies and programs can help them do so.

Who gets to get ahead?

High school attainment is a prerequisite for a modern sector job in India. Attainment is rising across the board, but the gains have accrued almost entirely to families in the top half of the socioeconomic distribution. [Source]

The SHRUG Platform

An open data platform with 25 years of socioeconomic data spanning 500,000 villages and 8,000 towns in India. Designed to seamlessly link with your own survey or administrative data.

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Intergenerational Mobility

Who has access to opportunity? We map upward mobility over time, across social groups, and in every town and village in India.

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The Impacts of Mining

Using satellite imaging, administrative data, and neural networks, we are studying the impacts of India’s thousands of surface mines.

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Sam Asher

Professor, SAIS

Aditi Bhowmick

India Director

Becky Cai

Research Associate

Alison Campion

Research Associate

Kritarth Jha

Research Associate

Tobias Lunt

Chief Data Scientist

Paul Novosad

Professor, Dartmouth College

Sankalp Sharma

Research Associate


Tanaya Devi

PhD student, Harvard

Idaliya Grigoryeva

Former Research Associate
PhD student, UCSD

Ryu Matsuura

Former Research Associate
PhD student, Northwestern

Charlie Rafkin

PhD student, MIT

Brandon Tan

PhD student, Harvard


The Development Data Lab is a 501(c)(3) organization built off of research supported by the International Growth Centre and the IZA/DFID Growth and Labour Markets in Low Income Countries Programme (GLM|LIC). Development Data Lab is supported by:


Development Data Lab works with governments and private firms to generate bespoke insights from our data platform or your own data. For more information, send us an email.