The Socioeconomic High-resolution Rural-Urban Geographic Platform for India (SHRUG) is a geographic platform that facilitates data sharing between researchers working on India. It is an open access repository currently comprising dozens of datasets covering India’s 500,000 villages and 8000 towns using a set of a common geographic identifiers that span 25 years.

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Prior to the SHRUG, linking different Indian datasets has been a major burden for researchers. The common geographic frame of SHRUG makes it easy for researchers to share information and link to each others’ data.

A new model for using and sharing data.

Researchers can immediately tap into SHRUG to mine a wealth of previously unavailable socioeconomic data in the towns and villages where they work. They can then publish their own village- and town-level data back to SHRUG, making it available to researchers working on other topics.

The SHRUG platform is based on open source principles; data will be freely available for noncommercial users, but are shared with the expectation that users will open source the data that they bring to the SHRUG, creating a public good that increases in value over time.

Applications of the SHRUG

The importance of nearby towns

How do village characteristics depend on proximity to towns? SHRUG's high-resolution data lets us map out these relationships with precision. These graphs show how (i) dependence on agriculture, (ii) consumption, and (iii) non-farm employment change as a function of distance to the nearest town with at least 100,000 people.

  • (i) Share of employment in cultivation-related activities
  • (ii) Consumption per capita (Rs)
  • (iii) Ratio of non-farm employment to total population

Upward Mobility

What are your prospects for moving up in the distribution if your family is poor? We get at this with a measure of upward mobility: it measures your expected education rank if you are born to a parent in the bottom half of the education distribution. We find that upward mobility for Muslims is way behind forward castes, SCs and STs, and is going down. [Source]

Impacts of rural roads

Nearly one billion people worldwide live in rural areas without access to national paved road networks. We estimate the impacts of India’s $40 billion national rural road construction program using village-level microdata. Roads don't have much impact on village consumption or agricultural investments, but they do help people exit agriculture and keep their children in school longer. [Source] [Source]

Contributing to the SHRUG

The SHRUG data is shared using the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 International License for non-commercial use. You may use the data for your private research, on condition that you share your own data with SHRUG identifiers when your research paper is published. This will make it easier for others to find your data and cite your work. For inquiries into using the SHRUG for commercial purposes, please contact our team.

Click here to view a full list of references.


The SHRUG data platform includes a core set of data that spans India's 500,000 villages, 8000 towns, and 4000 legislative assemblies. Use the currently-included SHRUG fields below or link the data to the newly-opened economic and population censuses for even more data. For a detailed codebook, click “Access the SHRUG” below.

Funding Partners

We are grateful to the Emergent Ventures fund at the Mercatus Center and the World Bank Group for funding support for the SHRUG.

Ready to get started?

Download the SHRUG data and start exploring, or click “contribute” to learn how to link your own data to the SHRUG and get cited for your work.


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.