Sutanuka Roy

PhD in Economics, London School of Economics
Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) John Mitchell Fellow
ANU College of Business and Economics

Research interests

Development Economics, Labour Economics and Economic History


I obtained my PhD in Economics from the LSE in May 2018. 

My research focuses on spillover effects of affirmative action policies in the context of tournaments, the persistent impact of colonial legal reforms, identifying institutional frictions which causes  gender and racial price disparity in labour markets.

Researcher's projects

Disruptive Effects of Preferential Policies: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field experiments in India 


Accepted at the AFE University of Chicago 2017;  AASLE 2017, The Econometric Society, 2017, 2018; Advances with Field Experiments Conference at Boston University,2018; NEUDC 2018, Cornell Uni.

Associated pilot study selected by Professor Thomas Piketty for the Inequalities Conference 2016


Abstract: This paper reports on the first large-scale randomized field experiment (which more than 14,000 undergraduate students)  involving legally-recognized minorities, to examine the causal effects of providing tournament incentives to disadvantaged students on high stakes university test scores. Two definitions of being disadvantaged are examined separately: 1) income disadvantage 2) social disadvantage of belonging to minority groups, i.e., the lower caste groups. The aim of the paper is to measure the impact of two types of affirmative action policies on the disadvantaged groups that the policies target and on the excluded relatively advantaged peers. When only poor students were given the opportunity to win the prize incentives, the average test scores of the whole cohort decreased by .14 standard deviations. There is a negative spillover effect on the test scores of the nonpoor peers who are excluded from the opportunity to win the prize incentives. Mechanisms of academic noncooperation as a response to preferential policies are explored.  The paper provides evidence of social tension and consequent non-cooperation among peers when only poor students are incentivized and the majority of the peers, who are not poor are excluded.


British colonial gender laws and gender differential human capital investment in India


(Joint with Hiu F. Tam, LSE)

Presented at the NEUDC 2016 and the EUDN 2016;  AASLE 2017 


Abstract: We study the long run impact of historical legal reforms on matrimonial law introduced by the British within British provinces in 1800s and early 1900s on female education and under age marriages in post-Independent India, exploiting quasi-random variations of districts that were former British Provinces within each post-independent Indian states. From three independent sources of large scale micro data, that includes administrative records from schools and representative household surveys, we find that former British Provinces females have 5% lower chances of marrying under the current legal age of 18 years, and 1.6% higher chance of attending school between the ages of 10-16 years, than those in the Princely States, where legal reforms in family matters were scant before 1947. We further digitize data on marriage status of population between 5-15 years at district level, from historical Census of India 1901-1951, to estimate the impact of Child Marriage abolition Act (1931) which raised the minimum age of marriage for female to 14. We find that the implementation of the law decreased the likelihood of girls getting married at 5-15 years old by 10.7-percentage point. This provides evidence that the colonial matrimonial laws reduce child marriages in the long run, and that the regional differences in child marriage practices in India has a strong historical root.




Gender bias in education during conflict: Evidence from Assam


(Joint with Prakarsh Singh)

WIDER Working Paper 2016/67, UNU-WIDER Conference in Helsinki; IZA Working Paper 10092 


Abstract: Using a large-scale novel panel dataset (2005-14) on schools from the Indian state of Assam, we test for the impact of violent conflict on female students’ enrollment rates. We find that a doubling of average killings in a district-year leads to a 13 per cent drop in girls’ enrollment rate with school fixed effects. Additionally, results remain similar when using an alternative definition of conflict from a different dataset. Gender differential responses are more negative for lower grades, rural schools, poorer districts, and for schools run by local and private unaided bodies.



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