Vijayendra Rao is a Lead Economist in the Development Research Group of the World Bank. He integrates his training in economics with theories and methods from anthropology, sociology and political science to study the social, cultural, and political context of extreme poverty in developing countries. Dr. Rao has published widely in leading journals in Economics, and Development Studies, on subjects that include dowries and domestic violence in India, the economics of celebrations, sex work in Calcutta, participatory development, village democracy and deliberation, and inter-disciplinary approaches to public policy. He co-edited Culture and Public Action, and History, Historians and Development Policy, and co-authored the 2006 World Development Report on Equity and Development. Most recently, with Ghazala Mansuri, he co-authored the World Bank's Policy Research Report on Localizing Development: Does Participation Work?

Dr. Rao obtained a BA (Economics, Statistics, Sociology) from St. Xavier's College - Bombay (now Mumbai), a PhD (Economics) from the University of Pennsylvania, was a post-doctoral fellow at the Economics Research Center and an Associate of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies at the University of Chicago, and taught at the University of Michigan and Williams College before joining the World Bank's Research Department in 1999. He serves on the editorial boards of Economic Development and Cultural Change , Journal of Development Studies, World Bank Economic Review, and World Development. He is a member of the Social Development Board of the World Bank, the Successful Societies Program at CIFAR, and affiliated with research institutes and NGOs in India, the US, and the UK.