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E. Somanathan
Professor, Economics and Planning Unit, Indian Statistical Institute
Ph. D., Economics (Harvard)
Areas of interest: Environment and development, evolutionary models of behavior


Community Managed Forest Groups and Preferences for REDD+ Contract Attributes: A Choice Experiment Survey of Communities in Nepal, Sahan T. M. Dissanayake, Prakash Jha, Bhim Adhikari, Rajesh Bista, Randall Bluffstone, Harisharan Luintel, Peter Martinsson, Naya Sharma Paudel, E. Somanathan and Michael Toman.


If you do not have access to a paper below, you can e-mail me (som [at]

Low-Cost Strategies to Improve Municipal Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Nepal, Mani Nepal, Apsara Karki Nepal, Madan S. Khadayat, Rajesh K. Rai, Priya Shyamsundar & E. Somanathan. Environmental and Resource Economics. (2023) 84:729-752.

There is no economic case for new coal plants in India, Shoibal Chakravarty and E. Somanathan. World Development Perspectives. (2021) 24:100373.

The Impact of Temperature on Productivity and Labor Supply: Evidence from Indian Manufacturing, E. Somanathan, Rohini Somanathan, Anant Sudarshan, and Meenu Tewari. Journal of Political Economy. (2021). 129(6).

A breath of fresh air: Raising awareness for clean fuel adoption, Farzana Afridi, Sisir Debnath, and E. Somanathan. Journal of Development Economics (2021). 151:102674

The Distributional Impact of Climate Change: Why Food Prices Matter, Eshita Gupta, Bharat Ramaswami, and E. Somanathan. Economics of Disasters and Climate Change (2021). Pre-print here.

“Value of Cleaner Neighborhoods: Application of Hedonic Price Model in Low Income Context.” Mani Nepal, Rajesh K. Rai, Madan S. Khadayat, E. Somanathan. World Development (2020) Volume 131.

“Does Collective Action Sequester Carbon? Evidence from the Nepal Community Forestry Program.” Randall Bluffstone, E. Somanathan, Prakash Jha, Harisharan Luintel, Rajesh Bista, Michael Toman, Naya Paudel (2018). World Development 101: 133-141.

“Global warming and local air pollution have reduced wheat yields in India.” Ridhima Gupta, E. Somanathan, and Sagnik Dey (2017). Climatic Change 140(3-4): 593-604.

“Climate Policy and Innovation in the Absence of Commitment.” Ashokankur Datta and E. Somanathan. Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (2016). 3(4):917-955.

“Biogas: Clean energy access with low-cost mitigation of global warming.” E. Somanathan and Randall Bluffstone. Environmental and Resource Economics. 62: 265–277. October 2015.

“Conserving forests for biodiversity - status and trends from the global forest resource assessment 2015.” David Morales-Hidalgo, Sonja N. Oswalt, and E. Somanathan. Forest Ecology and Management. 352: 68-77. September 2015.

“Are embankments a good flood-control strategy? A case study on the Kosi river.” E. Somanathan, Water Policy. (2013), 15: 75-88.

 “The Demographics of Cooperation: Evidence from a field experiment in the Himalayas.” Sujoy Chakravarty, Carine Sebi, E. Somanathan, and E. Theophilus. Journal of Economics and Management, (2013), 9(2):231-269.

Impact of Biometric Identification-based transfers Arka Roy Chaudhuri and E. Somanathan, Economic and Political Weekly, 46(21): 77-80, May 21, 2011.

Effects of Information on Environmental Quality in Developing Countries. E. Somanathan. Review of Environmental Economics and  Policy, 4(2): 275-292, Summer 2010.

What Do We Expect from an International Climate Agreement? A Perspective from a Low-income Country in Joseph Aldy and Robert Stavins (Eds), Climate Change Policy Beyond Kyoto, Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Climate change: Challenges facing India's poor with Rohini Somanathan, Economic and Political Weekly, 44(31): 51-58, August 1, 2009. (Erratum: The labels in Figure 3a are interchanged.)

Decentralization for cost-effective conservation E. Somanathan, R. Prabhakar, and B.S. Mehta, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 106(11): 4143-4147, March 17, 2009. Download the data and programs for this paper.

Awareness and the Demand for Environmental Quality: Survey Evidence on Drinking Water in Urban India, Jyotsna Jalan, E. Somanathan, and Saraswata Chaudhuri, Environment and Development Economics, 14(6): 665-692, December 2009. Download the data.

Discrimination in an Elite Labour Market? Job Placements at the Indian Institute of Management - Ahmedabad Sujoy Chakravarty and E. Somanathan, the Economic and Political Weekly, 43(44): 45-50, November 1, 2008.

The Importance of Being Informed: Experimental Evidence on Demand for Environmental Quality, Jyotsna Jalan and E. Somanathan, Journal of Development Economics, 87(1): 14-28, August 2008. Download the questionnaires, data, and programs for this paper.

Biodiversity, pp. 32-35 in the Oxford Companion to Economics in India, edited by Kaushik Basu, Oxford University Press, 2007.

Collective Action for Forest Conservation: Does Heterogeneity Matter? E. Somanathan, R. Prabhakar, and B.S. Mehta, pp. 234-245 in Inequality, Cooperation, and Environmental Sustainability edited by Jean-Marie Baland, Pranab Bardhan and Samuel Bowles, Princeton University Press, November 2006.

How Degraded are Himalayan Forests? R. Prabhakar, E. Somanathan, and B.S. Mehta, Current Science, 91(1): 61-67, July 10, 2006. Comments and our response, 92(4): 418-420, February 25, 2007. Training sites used for image classification in the paper are available on the India Biodiversity Portal.

Measuring the marginal value of water and the elasticity of demand for water in agriculture, E. Somanathan and R. Ravindranath, Economic and Political Weekly, 41(26): 2712-2715, June 30-July 7, 2006.

Environmental Policy Instruments in Developing Countries with Thomas Sterner, pp. 217-244 in Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability: New Policy Options, edited by Ramon Lopez and Michael A. Toman, Oxford University Press, June 2006.

A Simple Model of Collective Action with Rajiv Sethi, Economic Development and Cultural Change, 54(3): 725-747, April 2006.

Valuing Lives Equally: Distributional Weights for Welfare Analysis. Economics Letters, 90:122-125, January 2006.

Inequality and Environmental Policy, in Environment, Inequality, and Collective Action, edited by Marcello Basili, Maurizio Franzini, and Alessandro Vercelli, Routledge: New York, January 2006.

Norm Compliance and Strong Reciprocity, with Rajiv Sethi, pp. 229-250 in Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life edited by Herbert Gintis, Samuel Bowles, Robert Boyd, and Ernst Fehr, MIT Press, 2005.

The Evolution of Honesty, with Paul H. Rubin, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 54(1): 1-17, May 2004.

"What can we learn from Cultural Group Selection and Co-evolutionary Models?" with Rajiv Sethi, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 53(1): 105-108, January 2004.

Understanding Reciprocity with Rajiv Sethi, in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 50(1): 1-27, January 2003.

Can Growth Ease Class Conflict? in Economics and Politics, March 2002, 14(1): 65-81.

Empowering Local Government: Lessons from Europe in the Economic and Political Weekly, October 13, 2001, 36(41), pp 3935-40.

Preference Evolution and Reciprocity with Rajiv Sethi in the Journal of Economic Theory, April 2001.

Humans as Factors of Production: An Evolutionary Analysis with Paul H. Rubin in Managerial and Decision Economics, November-December 1998.

Evolutionary Stability of Pure-Strategy Equilibria in Finite Games in Games and Economic Behavior, October-November 1997.

The Evolution of Social Norms in Common Property Resource Use with Rajiv Sethi in the American Economic Review, September 1996, pp 766-88.

Deforestation, Property Rights and Incentives in Central Himalaya in the Economic and Political Weekly, January 26,1991, 26(4), Political Economy Supplement 37-46.


"Incentive-based Approaches to Nature Conservation." in Environmental Economics in Developing Countries: Issues and Challenges Edited by Achiransu Acharyya, Routledge, 2023. Pre-print available here.

"Institutions, the Environment, and Development." Chapter 20 in Economic Development and Institutions Edited by Jean-Marie Baland, Francois Bourguignon, Jean-Philippe Platteau and Thierry Verdier, Princeton University Press, 2020. Pre-print available here.

"A View from India." Chapter 7 in Towards a Workable and Effective Climate Regime, Edited by Scott Barrett, Carlo Carraro, and Jaime de Melo, 2015


"Understanding India's Economic Growth." Review of Pulapre Balakrishnan's Economic Growth in India: History and Prospect. Economic and Political Weekly, March 19, 2011, 46(12), 29-31.

"Recent Revolutions in Economic Theory." Review of Samuel Bowles's Microeconomics: Behavior, Institutions, and Evolution. Economic and Political Weekly, March 19, 2011, 46(12), 29-31.

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Economics and Planning Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, 7 S.J.S. Sansanwal Marg New Delhi - 110 016