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]

Open Data

DDL produces widely and freely accessible big data resources for use by policy-makers, researchers, and civil society. The SHRUG is our flagship data platform.

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DDL produces high-resolution, cutting-edge research on poverty and inequality in India by marrying the tools of data science and economics.

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Building Capacity

DDL aims to assist government in producing, disseminating, and utilizing data more effectively - from novel data platforms to evidence-based policy.

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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.


How do investments in agricultural productivity translate into development and structural transformation? The case of canals infrastructure.


India’s cities provide greater opportunity for some but fail to deliver for too many incumbents and potential inhabitants.

Judicial Bias

Are legal systems in developing countries effective at pushing back against structural inequality, or do they serve to entrench it?


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, 2024

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