Welcome to MIDS - A National Institute for Social Science Research




Prof S Subramanian
ICSSR National Fellow
Madras Institute of Development Studies, 79, Second Main Road, Gandhinagar, Adyar, Chennai - 600 020 Tamil Nadu, INDIA.
E-mail: subbu@mids.ac.in
Tel: 0091-44-24412589 / 24419771 Extn: 302; Fax: 0091 - 44 - 24910872


B.A. (Economics). 1974. Loyola College, University of Madras.
Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Administration. 1976. Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
M.Sc. (Economics). 1981. London School of Economics and Political Science, London University.


Research Interests
Aspects of Social and Economic Measurement; with specific reference to Poverty, Inequality, Discrimination, and Demographic Indicators; Development Economics;  Collective Choice Theory and Welfare Economics.


Academic Output

a. Books

(Editor). Themes in Development Economics: Essays in Honour of Malcolm Adiseshiah. Oxford University Press: Delhi. 1992.

(Editor). Measurement of Inequality and Poverty (Readers in Economics Series). Oxford University Press: Delhi. 1997. Reprinted (Oxford India Paperbacks): 2000, 2002.

(Co-editor, with Barbara Harriss-White). Illfare in India: Essays on India’s Social Sector in Honour of S. Guhan. Sage Publishers: Delhi. 1999.

(Editor). India’s Development Experience: Selected Writings of S. Guhan. Oxford University Press: Delhi. 2001. Reprinted (Oxford India Paperbacks): 2002.

Rights, Deprivation, and Disparity: Essays in Concepts and Measurement (Collected Essays Series). Oxford University Press: Delhi. 2006.

(with D Jayaraj): Poverty, Inequality, and Population: Essays in Development and Applied Measurement. Oxford University Press: Delhi. 2010. (Enlarged Paperback Edition: 2012.)

The Poverty Line (Oxford India Short Introductions Series). Oxford University Press: Delhi. 2012.

(forthcoming): Economic Offences: A Compendium of Crimes in Prose and Verse (to be published by Oxford University Press, Delhi).  

b. Articles in Books (which have not appeared elsewhere) and Journals (published and forthcoming): Post-2000

Articles in Books

(2003). `Aspects of Global Deprivation and Disparity: A Child’s Guide to Some Simple-minded Arithmetic’, in F. Carlucci and F. Marzano (eds.): Poverty, Growth and Welfare in the World Economy in the 21st Century. Peter Lang: Bern.

(2005). (with Taradas Bandyopadhyay): `A Relative View of Absolute Poverty: Some Implications for Identification, Aggregation and Policy Intervention’, in G. Mythili and R. Hema (eds.): Topics in Applied Economics – Tools, Issues, and Institutions. Academic Foundation: New Delhi.

(2006). ‘Poverty Measures and Anti-Poverty Policy under an Egalitarian Constraint’, in Rights, Deprivation, and Disparity [hereafter RDD], listed above.

(2006). ‘Some Simple Analytics of Poverty Redress through Direct Income Transfers and Wage Employment Programmes: A Review and Commentary’, in RDD.

(2006). ‘Poverty Measurement and Theories of Beneficence’, in RDD.

(2006). ‘On Trading Personal Liberty’, in RDD.

(2006). ‘A Re-scaled Version of the Foster-Greer-Thorbecke Poverty Indices Based on an Association with the Minkowski Distance Function’, in RDD.

(2006). ‘Social Groups and Economic Poverty: A Problem in Measurement’, in M. McGillivray (ed.): Inequality, Poverty, and Wellbeing. Palgrave Macmillan: London.

(2007). ‘Indicators of Inequality and Poverty’, in M. McGillivray (ed.): Human Well-being: Concept and Measurement. Palgrave Macmillan: London.

(2007). ‘Poverty’, in K. Basu (ed.): The Oxford Companion to Economics in India. Oxford University Press: New Delhi.

(2008). (with D. Jayaraj): ‘The Distribution of Household Wealth in India’, in J. Davies (ed.): Personal Wealth from a Global Perspective. Oxford University Press: Clarendon.

(2009). ‘A Practical Proposal for Simplifying the Measurement of Income Poverty’, in K. Basu and R. Kanbur (eds.): Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honour of Amartya Sen, Volume 1: Ethics, Welfare, and Measurement. Oxford University Press: Clarendon.

(2010). ‘Variable Populations and Inequality-Sensitive Ethical Judgments’, in B.Basu, , B. K. Chakrabarti, S. R. Chakravarti and K. Gangopadhyay (eds.): Econophysics and Economics of Games, Social Choices and Quantitative Techniques. Springer-Verlag Italia.

(Forthcoming/2013). ‘Poverty’, in R.Dwyer, G. Dharmpal Frick, J.Phalkey and M. Kirloskar-Steinbach (eds.): Keywords in Modern Indian Studies, Oxford University Press: New Delhi. 


Articles in Journals

(2000). (with Kaushik Basu and James E. Foster): `Isolated and Proximate Illiteracy, and Why These Concepts matter in Measuring Literacy and Designing Education Programmes’, Economic and Political Weekly, 35(1 & 2): 35-39.

(2000). (with D. Jayaraj): `Assessing the “Femaleness” of a Population’, Journal of     Development Economics, 61(1): 271-289.

(2001). `On an Index of Discrimination’, Journal of Social and Economic Development, 3(2): 199-207.

(2001). (with Manabi Majumdar): `Capability Failure and Group Disparities: Some Evidence from India for the 1980s’, Journal of Development Studies,  37(5): 104-140.

(2002). (with Manabi Majumdar): `On Measuring Deprivation Adjusted for Group Disparities’, Social Choice and Welfare, 19(2): 265-280.

(2002). (with D. Jayaraj): `Child Labour in Tamil Nadu: A Preliminary Account of its Nature, Extent, and Distribution’, Economic and Political Weekly, 37(10): 941-954.

(2002). `An Elementary Interpretation of the Gini Inequality Index’, Theory and Decision, 52(4): 375-379.

(2002). `Counting the Poor: An Elementary Difficulty in the Measurement of Poverty’, Economics and Philosophy, 18(2): 277-285.

(2003). `Inter-Household and Gender Equity, Efficiency, and the Measurement of Literacy’, Journal of Educational Planning and Administration, 249- 255.

(2004). `Measuring Literacy: Some Extensions of the Basu-Foster Framework’, Journal of Development Economics, 73(1): 453-463.

(2004). (with D. Jayaraj): `Abusing Demography’ (review article), Economic and Political Weekly, 39 (12): 1227-1236.

(2004). (with D. Jayaraj): `Women’s Well-being and the Sex Ratio at Birth: Some Suggestive Evidence from India’, Journal of Development Studies, 40(5): 91-119.

(2005). (with D. Jayaraj): `Assessing the “Agedness” of a Population’, Social Indicators Research, 72(3): 343-371.

(2005). `Unravelling a Conceptual Muddle: India’s Poverty Statistics in the Light of Basic Demand Theory’, Economic and Political Weekly, 40(1): 57-66.

(2005). `Fractions versus Whole Numbers: On Headcount Comparisons of Poverty Across Variable Populations’, Economic and Political Weekly, 40(43): 4625-4628.

(2006). (with D.Jayaraj): `Horizontal and Vertical Inequality: Some Interconnections and Indicators’, Social Indicators Research, 75(1): 123-139.

(2006). (with U. Mishra): ‘On Measuring Group-Differentials Displayed by Socio-Economic Indicators’, Applied Economics Letters, 13(8): 519-521.

(2006). ‘A Sort of Paretian Liberalism’, Journal of International Trade and Economic Development, 15(3): 311-324.

(2007). (with D. Jayaraj): ‘Comparing the Age Structures of Populations’, Applied Economics Letters, 14(7): 533-537.

(2007). (with D. Jayaraj): ‘Out of School and (Probably) in Work: Child Labour and Capability Deprivation in India’, Journal of South Asian Development, 2(2): 177-226.

(2008). ‘On a “Level-Sensitive” Headcount Ratio: Revisiting Shorrocks’ Poverty Index’, Social Indicators Research, 88(3): 477-482.

(2008). ‘Externality and Literacy: A Note’, Journal of Development Studies, 44(6): 839-848. Has also appeared in K. Basu, B. Maddox and A. Robinson-Pant (eds.): Interdisciplinary Approaches to Literacy and Development, Routledge, 2009.

(2008). ‘Global Poverty, Inequality, and Aid Flows: A Rough Guide to some Simple Justice’, Economic and Political Weekly, 43(46): 53-63.

(2009). ‘Reckoning Sub-Group Poverty Differentials in the Measurement of Aggregate Poverty’, Pacific Economic Review, 14(1): 46-55.

(2009). ‘Poverty Measurement in the Presence of a “Group Affiliation Externality”’, Journal of Human Development, 10(1): 63-76.

(2009). (with D. Jayaraj): ‘The Wellbeing Implications of a Change in the Sex-Ratio of a Population’, Social Choice and Welfare, 33(1): 129-150.

(2009). (with D. Jayaraj) : ‘Adjusting Headcount Deprivation for Horizontal and Spatial Inequality: Some Illustrative Examples Using Census Housing Data’, Indian Journal of Human Development, 2(2): 425-434. 

(2009). ‘The Arrow Paradox with Fuzzy Preferences’, Mathematical Social Sciences, 58(2): 265-271.

(2009). (with D Jayaraj): ‘India’s Household Wealth Distribution Data: A Critical Assessment’, Indian Journal of Human Development, 3(2): 265-282.

(2009). ‘Revisiting the Normalization Axiom in Poverty Measurement’, Finnish Economic Papers, 22(2): 89-98, 2009.

(2009). (with D. Jayaraj): ‘A Chakravarty-D’Ambrosio View of Multidimensional Deprivation: Some Estimates for India’, 2009, Economic and Political Weekly, 45(6): 53-65.

(2009). ‘Poverty Measures as Normalized Distance Functions’, Indian Economic Review,  44(2): 171-183.

(2010). ‘Thinking Through Justice’ [Review Article on Amartya Sen’s The Idea of Justice], Economic and Political Weekly, 2010, 45(19): 33-42.

(2010). ‘Tricks with the Lorenz Curve’, Economics Bulletin, 30(2): 1594-1602.

(2010). ‘Inter-Group Disparities in the Distributional Analysis of Human Development: Concepts, Measurement, and Illustrative Applications’, Review of Black Political Economy, 38(1): 27-52.

(2010). ‘Liberty, Equality, and Impossibility: Some General Results in the Space of “Soft” Preferences’, Journal of Economic Policy Reform, 13(4): 325-341.

(2011). ‘A Gender-Adjusted Measure of Literacy’, Economics Bulletin, 31(1): 436-441.

(2011). ‘Are Egalitarians Really Vulnerable to the Levelling Down Objection and the Divided World Example?’, Journal of Philosophical Economics, IV(2): Spring 2011.

(2011). ‘Money-metric Poverty Identification: A Cautionary Note’, Journal of Economic Analysis, 2(1): 35-56.

(2011). ‘Inequality Measurement with Subgroup Decomposability and Level-Sensitivity’, Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Vol. 5, 2011-9. doi:10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2011-9. http://dx.doi.org/10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2011-9.

(2011). ‘On a Normalized and Replication-Invariant “Threshold” Measure of Inequality’, Journal of Economic Theory and Social Development, 1(1): 67-79.

(2012). ‘Can We Possibly Subscribe To Both Liberty and Equality At One And The Same Time?’, Think: Philosophy for Everyone (Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy), 11 (30): 103-110,  doi:10.1017/S1477175611000418

(with Nicole Hassoun) (2012): ‘An Aspect of Variable Population Poverty Comparisons’, Journal of Development Economics, 98(2): 238-241. 

(2012).  The Focus Axiom and Poverty: On the Co-existence of Precise Language

and Ambiguous Meaning in Economic Mesurement’, Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Vol. 6, 2012-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2012-8.

(2012). (with D. Jayaraj): ‘On the Interpersonal Inclusiveness of India’s Consumption Growth’, Economic and Political Weekly, XLVII (45): 56-66.

(2013). ‘“Instrumentalism” and Friedman’s Methodology: A Short Objection’, Quantity and Quality: International Journal of Methodology, 47(1): 577-580. (Available online - DOI: 10.1007/s11135-011-9480-7.)

(forthcoming). (with D. Jayaraj): ‘On the Inter-Group Inclusiveness of India’s Consumption Expenditure Growth’, Economic and Political Weekly.  


c. Book Reviews: Post-2000

United Nations Development Programme: Human Development Report 1999, in Interventions: A Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 2000.

Amartya Sen: Development as Freedom, in South Asia Magazine for Action and Reflection (SAMAR), 2001.

Kunibert Raffer and H.W.Singer: The Economic North-South Divide: Six Decades of Unequal Development, in Journal of Social and Economic Development, 2004.

Kaushik Basu (ed.): India’s Emerging Economy: Performance and Prospects in the 1990s and Beyond, in International Review of Economics and Finance, 2005.

Thomas Pogge: Politics as Usual: What Lies Behind The Pro-Poor Rhetoric, in Times Higher Education, October 7, 2010.  


d. Working/Discussion/Research Papers: Post-2000

(with D. Jayaraj): `Group Affiliation, Externality, and the Measurement of Poverty’, S. Guhan Memorial Series Discussion Paper 1: MIDS, 2000.

Aspects of Global Deprivation and Disparity: A Child’s Guide to Some Simple-minded Arithmetic, S. Guhan Memorial Series Monograph 2: MIDS, 2000. [Expanded version of the text of an invited presentation at the conference on North-South Relations in the XXIst Century: Well-beings, Inequalities, Opportunities, organized by the University of Rome `La Sapienza’, Italy, 2000.]

`Poverty Measurement and the Repugnant Conclusion’, S. Guhan Memorial Series Discussion Paper 3: MIDS, 2000.

(with D. Jayaraj): ‘The Distribution of Household Wealth in India’ UNU-WIDER Research Paper No. RP 2006/116. 2006.

‘International Aid in Light of Global Poverty and Inequality’, UNU-WIDER Research Paper No RP 2007/31. 2007.

 ‘A Chakravarty-D’Ambrosio Class of Social Exclusion Measures as a Foster-Greer-Thorbecke Class of Headcount Indices of Multidimensional Deprivation: An Expository Note’, S. Guhan Memorial Series (Themes in Social Sector Research) Discussion Paper No. 11, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai. 2009.

 ‘The Deprivation Distribution Profile: A Graphical Device for Comparing Alternative Regimes of Multidimensional Poverty’, S. Guhan Memorial Series (Themes in Social Sector Research) Discussion Paper No. 12, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai. 2009.

‘Identifying the Income-Poor: Some Controversies in India and Elsewhere’, Discussion Paper 46 in the Courant Research Centre’s Poverty, Equity and Growth Discussion Papers Series, Goettingen, Germany.

‘Inequality Measurement with Subgroup Decomposability and Level Sensitivity’, Economics Discussion Papers, No 2011-7. http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/discussionpapers/2011-7 .

‘Variable Populations and the Measurement of Poverty and Inequality’, WIDER Working paper No. 053 , Helsinki, Finland.

(with D Jayaraj): ‘On the “Inclusiveness” of India’s Consumption Expenditure Growth’, WIDER Working Paper No. 057, Helsinki, Finland.

‘On a Distance Function-Based Measure of Inequality Measure in the Spirit of the Bonferroni and Gini Indices’, WIDER Working Paper No. 062, Helsinki, Finland.


e. Other Occasional Writings: Post-2000

‘Amartya Sen’ in a special issue of India Today: 25 in 2000, 2000.

‘Well-Being and the World Today’, The Hindu, February 2001.

‘The Status of the Child in India’, Keynote address at a UNICEF Workshop held in Chennai, 2002. (mimeo.)

‘Moral Catastrophes and Immoral Reasoning’, Economic and Political Weekly, June 2002.

(with D. Jayaraj): ‘Manufacturing Hysteria: On Census-Inspired Nationalism’, Economic and Political Weekly, September 2004.

‘Headcount Poverty Comparisons’, International Poverty Centre One Pager No. 18, United Nations Development Programme: Brasilia, Brazil.

‘Examining the Creamy Layer Principle’, Economic and Political Weekly, November 2006.

‘The Creamy Layer Principle: A Reply to K. Sundaram and K. Ravi Srinivas’, Economic and Political Weekly, January 2007. [Both the above articles have been reprinted in S. Thorat and N. Kumar (eds.): In Search of Inclusive Policy: Assessing Graded Inequality, 2008, Indian Institute of Dalit Studies and Rawat Publishers, New Delhi.]

‘Amartya Sen’, in a special issue of India Today: 60 Greatest Indians, April 2008.

‘How Many Poor in the World?’, Editorial in Economic and Political Weekly, 43(43): 5-6, October 25, 2008. 

‘”How Many Poor in the World?”: A Critique of Ravallion’s Reply’, Economic and Political Weekly, 44(5): 67-71, January 31, 2009.

‘A Poem on Poverty: The Saga of World Poverty’, Challenge: The Magazine for Economists, 52(4): , July/August, 2009.

‘Clerihews/ In Merry Hues:/ An A-to-Z of The Lives and Times/ Of Economists in Jolly Rhymes’, Royal Economic Society Newsletter, Issue 146, July-September, 2009.

‘1936 And All That’, Royal Economic Society Newsletter, Issue 148, January-March, 2010.

‘“Inclusive Development” and the Quintile Income Statistic’, Economic and Political Weekly, XLVI (4): 69-72.

‘The Poverty Line: Getting It Wrong Again’, Economic and Political Weekly, XLVI (48): 37-42, November 26, 2011.

‘Writing Economics in Exactly 300 Words: Two Samples in the Tradition of J. B. Morton (‘Beachcomber’), Eostre (Delhi School of Economics Students’ Journal). 


f. Work in Progress/ Papers Circulated for Comments

(with A. F. Shorrocks): ‘Poverty: An Overview’.

(with A. F. Shorrocks): ‘Inequality: An Overview’.

Social Values, Social Choice, and Social Indicators: Selected Essays in Economic Theory and Measurement.

‘Are Egalitarians Really Vulnerable to the Levelling Down Objection and the Divided World Example?’.

‘Ten Million Instances of Sex-Selective Abortion in India over the Last Two Decades? A Comment on a Lancet Article by Jha et al’.

‘Equality, Priority, and Distributional Judgments’.

(with D. Jayaraj): ‘The Evolution of Consumption and Wealth Inequality in India: A Quantitative Assessment’.

(with D. Jayaraj): ‘Growth and Inequality in the Distribution of India’s Consumption Expenditure’.

(with D. Jayaraj): ‘Aspects of the Evolution of Economic Inequality in India’.  


Other Academic Information

Awarded the Dudley Seers Memorial Prize (Economics category) for 2001, for the paper `Capability Failure and Group Disparities: Some Evidence from India for the 1980s’, in Journal of Development Studies, co-authored with Manabi Majumdar..

Elected Fellow of the Human Development and Capability Association (2004 – 2009).

One of three Lead Editors of a Special (2006) Issue of Journal of Human Development.

Member, Editorial Board: Contemporary Issues and Ideas in Social Sciences (website journal).

Member, Editorial Advisory Board: Journal of Human Development (2006-2008).

Associate Editor: Journal of Human Development (2008-).

Invited to lecture at the Summer School on Development 2007: Inequality, Growth and Human Development (July 1-6 2007), organized by Unidea-UniCredit Foundation, the University of Florence and the European Development Network (EUDN), and conducted in Civita Castellana, Viterbo, Italy.

In 2008, the International Poverty Centre’s One-Pager # 18 ‘Headcount Poverty Comparisons’ was selected by the IPC as one of ‘… ten insightful readings [in the One-Pager series] to mark the global campaign “STAND UP and TAKE ACTION against Poverty and for the Millennium Development Goals.”’

One of four Lead Editors of a Special (2010) Issue of Journal of Human Development(forthcoming).

In 2012, was nominated for – but not awarded! – the O2 prize for the most outstanding journal article in the field of health, education, and welfare published in the Economics E-Journal. [Nominated article: ‘The Focus Axiom and Poverty: On the Co-existence of Precise Language and Ambiguous Meaning in Economic Measurement’, Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Vol. 6, 2012-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2012-8.]