Assistant Professor

About Anjali Adukia

Anjali Adukia is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and the College. In her work, she is interested in understanding how to reduce inequalities such that children from historically disadvantaged backgrounds have equal opportunities to fully develop their potential.  Her research is focused on understanding factors that motivate and shape behavior, preferences, attitudes, and educational decision-making, with a particular focus on early-life influences.  She examines how the provision of basic needs—such as safety, health, justice, and representation—can increase school participation and improve child outcomes in developing contexts.

Adukia completed her doctoral degree at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, with an academic focus on the economics of education. Her work has been funded from organizations such as the William T. Grant Foundation, the National Academy of Education, and the Spencer Foundation.  Her dissertation won awards from the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM), Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP), and the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES). Adukia received recognition for her teaching from the University of Chicago Feminist Forum.  She completed her masters of education degrees in international education policy and higher education (administration, planning, and social policy) from Harvard University and her bachelor of science degree in molecular and integrative physiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She is a faculty research fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research and a faculty affiliate of the University of Chicago Education Lab and Crime Lab.  She was formerly a board member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network – San Francisco Bay Area. She continues to work with non-governmental organizations internationally, such as UNICEF and Manav Sadhna in Gujarat, India.

Professor Anjali Adukia is on leave Academic Year 2019-20.

Twitter: @aadukia


Sanitation and Education (April 2017, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics)

One in five children worldwide does not complete upper-primary school, with particularly high drop-out rates among pubescent-age girls that may limit economic opportunities and perpetuate gender inequality.  This paper tests whether educational attainment is stymied by endemically inadequate school sanitation that threatens children's health, privacy, and safety.  

"Educational Investment Responses to Economic Opportunity: Evidence from Indian Road Construction"
(with S. Asher and P. Novosad) (January 2020American Economic Journal: Applied Economics)

The rural poor in developing countries, once economically isolated, are increasingly being connected to outside markets. Whether these new connections crowd out or encourage educational investment is a central question. We examine the impacts on educational choices of 115,000 new roads built under India's flagship road construction program. We find that children stay in school longer and perform better on standardized exams. Treatment heterogeneity supports the predictions of a standard human capital investment model: enrollment increases are largest where nearby labor markets offer the highest returns to education and lowest where they imply high opportunity costs of schooling.

Research Paper

"Spillover Impacts on Education from Employment Guarantees" (Revision Requested, Education Finance and Policy)

Programs that guarantee some basic level of low-skill employment are a popular anti-poverty strategy in developing countries, with India's employment-guarantee program (MGNREGA) annually employing adults in 23% of Indian households.  An important concern is these employment programs may discourage children's education and, thus, more-sustained long-run income growth.  Using large-scale administrative data and household survey data, I estimate precise spillover impacts on education that reject substantive declines in children's education from the rollout of MGNREGA.  These negative spillovers are inexpensive to counteract, and small compared to immediate effects of MGNREGA on rural employment and poverty alleviation.

Research Paper

"Clothing and Student Outcomes: Evidence from a School Uniform Program"

Many schools in developing countries require students to wear uniforms. While mandatory school uniforms may generate benefits by removing a visible symbol of differences in socioeconomic status, the cost of school uniforms may be a prohibitive barrier for the poorest students. I analyze a large-scale free school uniform program in India that targets females and lower socioeconomic status students. 

"Religion and Sanitation Practices"
(with M. Alsan, K. Babiarz, J. Goldhaber-Fiebert, and L. Prince)  (AcceptedWorld Bank Economic Review)

Infant mortality among Hindus is higher than among Muslims in India, and religious differences in sanitation practices have been cited as a contributing factor. To explore these differences by religion, we use data from three nationally-representative household surveys in India. Across all three data sets, the estimated religion-specific gap in latrine use and ownership declines by approximately 70% when conditioning on location characteristics or including geography fixed effects. Further, we do not find evidence of a religious divide in other sanitation practices, such as handwashing or observed fecal material near homes. We conclude that household religion itself does not appear to pose a substantial inherent barrier to improved sanitation practices.

Research Paper

Policy Analysis

(with B. Long.) World Bank, August 2009.

(with D. Ahlers, M. Blakley, L. Cole, M. El Dahshan, A. Hodari, H. Ko, J. Maeso, A. Noble, D. Radcliffe, M. Richards, C. Valentine, A. Van, D. Walsh, A. Watson, A. Woods, C. Wood, J. Wright, K. Yang). Harvard Kennedy School - Broadmoor Initiative, March 2007.

Policy Briefs, Op-Eds, Blog Posts

How sanitation facilities in schools can improve educational outcomes, Ideas for India, 8/20/2018

Promoting Education through School SanitationWorld Bank Development Impact, 3/05/2014

News and Awards

William T. Grant Scholar, 2018-23 (Harris coverage)

National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2018-19

Feminist Forum Professor Award Honorable Mention (University of Chicago), 2018

Why Toilets MatterHarvard Ed Magazine by L. Hough, 1/22/2018.

Latrines and Learning (and related video by S. Galer), Featured Research by R. Mordfin, 6/22/2017

Building School Latrines in India to Increase Student Enrollment, Chicago Policy Review by N. Khadijah, 5/3/2017

India's Need for School Toilets, Pulitzer Center Global Health NOW by A. Schraufnagel, 2/15/2016

Emerging Education Policy Scholar, American Enterprise Institute and Fordham Institute, 2017

Recipient of 2015 Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP) Jean Flanigan Outstanding Dissertation Award

Recipient of 2014 Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM) Dissertation Award

Recipient of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) South Asia Special Interest Group Dissertation Award: Honorable Mention

A Latrine of Their Own, Interviewed for Radio Harris by J. Smith

Exploring Solution's to India's Sanitation Crisis, myScience 

Research featured on Poke Me, a weekly editorial post on The Economic Times by U. Goswami 

That time a monkey almost stole critical dissertation data...  Video, Harvard Ed. Magazine ("Hey, Hey, It's a Monkey" by L. Hough, Winter 2011), Chronicle of Higher Education and here, Harvard Crimson


University of Chicago and Harris Informational Videos: 

Meet Our Faculty: Anjali Adukia

Future of Harris: Overall and Anjali Adukia Spotlight

Obama Foundation Scholars Program

Harris School of Public Policy Evening Master's Program