Dr. Gauri Kartini Shastry is a development economist whose work focuses on three areas: education, nutrition, and financial decision-making. These three aspects of what economists call “human capital” are essential to improving the well-being of poor households, both in developed and developing countries. These research areas are also connected by common empirical techniques to identify causal relationships.
One focus of her research relates to how household decisions, such as whether to enroll in school, responded to the growth in job opportunities for English-speaking workers in India in the 1990s. A second research area focuses on child nutrition in South Asia. For example, in one paper, she studies how mothers in Bangladesh responded to concerns about arsenic-contaminated well-water by breastfeeding their infants longer and delaying supplementary feeding. Infant health improved. Combining her interests in education and nutrition, Dr. Shastry has studied school meals programs in India. In recent work on this topic, she is evaluating a field experiment that fortified school meals and monitored meals intensively to improve program implementation.
Lastly, another research direction asks whether financial education can be effective in improving the financial decisions people make, such as how much to save. Dr. Shastry examines this question in very different contexts evaluating different types of interventions, such as high school courses in the United States, mandatory workshops for gold-mine workers in South Africa and peer-based savings clubs among domestic workers in Singapore.
Dr. Shastry is currently an Associate Professor of Economics at Wellesley College where she has been working since 2009, prior to which she was at the University of Virginia. Her work has been published in the Journal of Human Resources, the Journal of Development Economics, the Review of Economics and Statistics, the Review of Financial Studies and the Journal of the European Economic Association.
Dr. Shastry received her master’s and doctorate degrees in Economics from Harvard University in 2008 and her bachelor’s degree in Economics and Mathematics from Brown University in 2002.