Alaka Basu

Visiting Scholar

Alaka Basu is a visiting scholar in the Department of Sociology at Cornell University and a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation. She is a former professor in the Department of Global Development at Cornell University. Professor Basu researches and teaches in the broad area of Social Demography. Her organizing premise is that not all forms of diversity are to be embraced or celebrated – in matters of life and death, we want convergence rather than difference. Her teaching and research expand on this proposition in the areas of population and development, reproductive health, gender and development, and health and mortality.


  • Reproductive health;
  • gender and development;
  • child health and mortality;
  • social demography

Selected Publications & Presentations

  • (with S. Kumar), ‘Bride Price, Dowry, and Young Men with Time to Kill: An Essay on Male Marriage Postponement in India’, Population Studies, forthcoming.
  • With K. Basu and J. M. U. Tapia (2020) “The complexity of managing COVID-19: How important is good governance?” in Brookings, Washington, DC, Reimagining the Global Economy: Building Back Better in a Post-COVID-19 World
  • (Jointly with the other Commissioners) Accelerate progress—sexual and reproductive health and rights for all: Report of the Guttmacher–Lancet CommissionThe Lancet 391(10140): 2642-2692, May 2018.
  • “And now it is Zika, Sex and Reproductive Health”,  Economic and Political Weekly, 2016. (with S. Desai), “Middle Class Dreams: The Rise of One Child Families in India”,  Asian Population Studies, 2016
  • (with K. Basu), “The prospects for an imminent demographic dividend in Africa: The case for cautious optimism, in Célestin Monga and Justin Yifu Lin (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Africa and Economics: Context and Concepts, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • Demography for the Public: Literary Representations of Population Research and Policy”, Development and Change, vol. 45, no. 5, (pages 813–837), 2014
  • “The vocabulary of Reproductive Health’, in Andrzej Kulczycki (edited), Critical Issues in Reproductive Health, Springer, 2013
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“Actors do not behave or decide as atoms outside a social context ... Their attempts at purposive action are instead embedded in concrete, ongoing systems of social relations.”— Mark Granovetter