Professor Sarmistha Pal

Research Interests

Public Economics; Public Finance; Emerging Markets Finance; Institutions and Political Economy.

Recent Research Grants

UGPN grant (US$20000) 1st August 2016-31 July 2017: Whither youth crime? Impact assessment of the recent public policy interventions in Brazil - Principal Applicant

ESRC small grant RES-000-22-0200 (£43804.00), October 2003- September 2005: ‘CORPORATE CAPITAL STRUCTURE IN EAST ASIA BEFORE AND AFTER THE CRISIS’- Principal applicant.

ESRC standard grant RES-062-23-0986 (April 2008- March 2010): "FDI, Ownership and Corporate Governance in Europe" (joint with Nigel Driffield, Aston and Tomasz Mickiewicz, UCL)

Leverhulme Research Fellowship: September 2008-August 2009. "Rise of Private Schools and Universal Education"
ESRC small grant RES-000-22-0200, October 2003- September 2005: "Corporate Capital Structure in East Asia Before and After the Crisis"

Brunel SSS research grant June 2010: 'Multiculturalism, Minority Representation and Public Policy: Evidence from Local Governments in the UK' (joint with Justin Fisher (Politics) & Sugata Ghosh (E&F))

Research Collaborations

I currently have collaborations with researchers at the City University London (UK), University of Durham (UK), University of Kent (UK),  Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina), Paris School of Economics (France), Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Spain),  Monash University (Australia), University of New South Wales (Australia), Indian Statistical Institute Delhi, Kolkata (India), University of Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Stevens Institute of Technology (USA) and the World Bank (USA).


MSc Quantitative Method (MANM280)

Departmental Duties

Head of Recruitment (Finance)


Research Fellow, IZA, University of Bonn, Germany;
External research affiliate, CSAE, University of Oxford

Member American Economic Association

Member Royal Economic Society

Organisation of conferences/symposia

I organised ESRC funded (grant RES-000-22-0200) workshop on "Corporate Governance, Corporate Restructuring and Corporate Finance in Transition Economies" on 9-10 September 2005, Brunel University.

I organised Leverhulme Trust funded symposium on "School Privatisation and Universal Education in Asia" for the Oxford Conference on Education and Development, September 2009.

I organised ESRC funded special session on Globalisation and FDI at the Royal Economic Society Annual Conference March 2010.

I organised a symyposium on Institutions and Globalisation for the Association of the the Comparative Economic Studies as part of the ASSA meeting in Chicago, January 2012.

I organised the Surrey-IFABS 2016 conference on 'Firm Value Maximisation and Corporate Social Responsibility: Implications for Corporate Finance and Corporate Governance' on 15-16 September 2016

I organised the Surrey-UGPN conference on 'Youth Crime and Public Policy' between 6-7 July 2017

Other academic activities

* My research on Private schools in developing countries funded by the Leverhulme Research Fellowship 2008-09 has received a lot of attention since the publication of the DFID Rigorous Review and a follow-up article on the Guardian 16 March 2015. You can find some academic discourse in this respect on the following link: 

* 'Whither female disadvantage? An analysis of private school enrolment in India' October 2016 (forthcoming) Ideas for India Column, International Growth Centre LSE & Oxford.


Policy Articles/Media Briefings

Why demonetisation?
Ideas for India Perspective December 1 2016

Why demonetisation?
Business Standard December 1 2016

Dear PM Modi, Save Informal Sector from a Post Note Ban Recession (jointly with Kaushik Bhattacharya, Siddhartha Mitra and Bibhas Saha)
The Quint, February 10 2017

Reviving the informal sector from the throes of demonetisation (jointly with Kaushik Bhattacharya, Siddhartha Mitra and Bibhas Saha)
Ideas for India Perspective 13 February 2017

Land acquisition and corporate investment: Legacy of historical land ceiling legislations? (jointly with Tiago Pinheiro and Zoya Saher)
Ideas for India Column April 23 2017

Why land ceilings hurt corporate investment? (jointly with Tiago Pinheiro and Zoya Saher)
Business Standard April 23 2017

India’s Cashless Society
Participation in BBC World Service programme


Demonetisation and GST: Reckless Decisions that Cost the Economy?

The Quint 28 November 2017

Contact Me

Phone: 01483 68 6354

Find me on campus
Room: 10 MS 02

My office hours


Autumn term: Thursday (10-11 am) and Friday (10-11am)

Tel. 01483 686354
Office 10 MS 02


Journal articles

  • Pal S, Wahhaj Z. (2017) 'Fiscal Decentralisation, Local Institutions and Public Goods Provision: Evidence from Indonesia'. Elsevier Journal of Comparative Economics, 45 (2), pp. 383-409.


    Using data from the Indonesian Family Life Surveys, we study the impact of fiscal decentralisation in Indonesia on local public spending across communities characterised by different types of informal and formal institutions. Our results provide new evidence that fiscal decentralisation led to a significant increase in community spending on social infrastructure (health and education) in communities which observed strict adherence to customary laws and had a tradition of local democracy. We argue that investment in transport and communication facilitates exchange with outsiders and improves the outside options of community members, thus making it more difficult to sustain intra-community cooperation. Consequently, communities which enjoy a high level of cooperation in collective activities benefit less from investing in transport and communication and are more inclined to invest in social infrastructure.

  • Maitra P, Pal S, Sharma A. (2016) 'Absence of Altruism? Female Disadvantage in Private School Enrolment in India'. Elsevier World Development, 85, pp. 105-125.
    [ Status: Accepted ]


    Women make up one-half of the world’s population, though two-thirds of the world’s non-literate adults are women, which highlight the pervasive denial of the basic human right to education experienced by women across the globe. While there is a sizeable literature on gender discrimination in girls’ schooling, we know very little about girls’ access to private schooling, despite its rapid growth around the world in recent years. Using two nationally representative datasets from household surveys conducted in India in 2005 and 2012, our paper aims to bridge this gap by examining the role of gender in private school choice. We argue that the gender of the child is potentially endogenous in India because parents continue to have children until they have a son. To redress this potential endogeneity, we exploit the variation in private school choice among 7-18 year olds born to the same parents within the same household in an attempt to minimize both child-invariant and child-varying household-level omitted variable bias. We then explore the nature of female (dis)advantage across different types of households, communities and years with a view to assess the role of parental preferences in this respect and its change, if any. The analysis thus allows us to provide new evidence for the causal effect of gender on private school choice in India. Significant female disadvantage exists in both survey years, though the size of this disadvantage varies across sub-samples and years. Female disadvantage is significantly higher among younger (relative to eldest) girls and also in northern and northwestern (relative to western) regions, but it is lower among girls from poor (relative to rich) households, Christian (relative to Hindu high caste) households, and those with more educated mothers. Our results are robust, irrespective of whether or not we restrict the sample to those born to a household head. We infer that the observed within-household variations in female disadvantage across subsamples reflect variations in non-altruistic parental preferences linked to deeply held cultural norms (for example, sons acting as old-age security and the exogamy of girls), access to schools and other public goods, and also job opportunities and returns to schooling for girls, thus posing considerable challenges in the attempt to secure ‘education for all.’

  • Pal S. (2015) 'Impact of Hospital Delivery on Child Mortality: An Analysis of Adolescent Mothers in Bangladesh'. Elsevier Social Science & Medicine, 143, pp. 194-203.
    [ Status: Accepted ]


    New medical inventions for saving young lives are not enough if these do not reach the children and the mother. The present paper provides new evidence that institutional delivery can significantly lower child mortality risks, because it ensures effective and timely access to modern diagnostics and medical treatments to save lives. We exploit the exogenous variation in community’s access to local health facilities (both traditional and modern) before and after the completion of the ‘Women’s Health Project’ in 2005 (that enhanced emergency obstetric care in women friendly environment) to identify the causal effect of hospital delivery on various mortality rates among children. Our best estimates come from the parents fixed effects models that help limiting any parents-level omitted variable estimation bias. Using 2007 Bangladesh Demographic Health Survey data from about 6000 children born during 2002-2007, we show that, ceteris paribus, access to family welfare clinic particularly boosted hospital delivery likelihood, which in turn lowered neo-natal, early and infant mortality rates, especially among adolescent mothers after the completion of Women’s Health Project in 2005; infant mortality for this cohort was more than halved if delivery took place in a health facility. Our analysis thus highlights the potential benefits of institutional delivery in women friendly environment that may save lives of newborn children, especially among young adolescent mothers.

  • Owolabi O, Pal S. (2013) 'Does business networking boost firms' external financing opportunities? Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe'. Applied Financial Economics, 23 (5), pp. 415-432.
  • Coricelli F, Driffield N, Pal S, Roland I. (2012) 'When does leverage hurt productivity growth? A firm-level analysis'. ELSEVIER SCI LTD JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL MONEY AND FINANCE, 31 (6), pp. 1674-1694.
  • Pal S, Palacios R. (2011) 'Understanding poverty among the elderly in India: Implications for Social Pension Policy'. Taylor & Francis Journal of Development Studies, 47 (7), pp. 1017-1037.
  • Pal S, Palacios R. (2011) 'Understanding poverty among the elderly in India: Implications for social pension policy'. Journal of Development Studies, 47 (7), pp. 1017-1037.
  • Pal S, Ghosh S. (2011) 'Poverty, Elite Heterogeneity, And The Allocation Of Public Spending: Panel Evidence From The Indian States'. Review of Income and Wealth,
  • Bhaumik S, Driffield N, Pal S. (2010) 'Does Ownership Structure of Emerging Market Firms Affect their Outward FDI? The Case of Indian Automotive and Pharmaceutical Sectors'. Palgrave Macmillan Journal of International Business Studies, 41 (3), pp. 437-450.


    This article examines the impact of ownership structures of emerging market firms, which are shaped by local institutions, on the decision of these firms to undertake outward FDI. Our results suggest that family firms and firms with concentrated ownerships, both ubiquitous in emerging markets, are less likely to invest overseas, and that strategic equity holding by foreign investors facilitates outward FDI. We conclude that organisational forms such as family firms, that are optimal outcomes of institutions prevailing in emerging markets, may be sub-optimal in a changing business environment in which outward FDI is necessary for access to resources and markets.

  • Pal S. (2010) 'Public infrastructure, location of private schools and primary school attainment in an emerging economy'. Economics of Education Review, 29 (5), pp. 783-794.
  • Pal S, Driffield N. (2010) 'Evolution of capital structure in east Asia—corporate inertia or endeavours?'. Royal Statistical Society Journal of Royal Statistical Society Series A, 173
  • Makepeace G, Pal S. (2008) 'Understanding the effects of siblings on child mortality: Evidence from India'. Journal of Population Economics, 21 (4), pp. 877-902.
  • Maitra P, Pal S. (2008) 'Birth spacing, fertility selection and child survival: Analysis using a correlated hazard model'. Journal of Health Economics, 27 (3), pp. 690-705.
  • Pal S. (2007) 'Casual and regular contracts: Workers’ self‐selection in the rural labour markets in India'. Taylor & Francis Journal of Development Studies, 33 (1), pp. 99-116.
  • Pal S, Driffield N, Mahambare V. (2007) 'How does ownership structure affect capital structure and firm value?'. The Economics of Transition,
  • Pal S, Berglof E. (2007) 'Symposium on Corporate Governance'. The Economics of Transition, 15 (3), pp. 429-432.
  • Makepeace G, Pal S. (2006) 'Effects of birth interval on child mortality: evidence from a sequential analysis.'. World Health Popul, Canada: 8 (2), pp. 69-82.
  • Driffield N, Pal S. (2006) 'Do external funds yield lower returns? Recent evidence from East Asian economies'. Journal of Asian Economics, 17 (1), pp. 171-188.
  • Pal S. (2004) 'Child schooling in Peru: Evidence from a sequential analysis of school progression'. Journal of Population Economics, 17 (4), pp. 657-680.
  • Pal S. (2004) 'How much of the gender difference in child school enrolment can be explained? Evidence from rural India'. Bulletin of Economic Research, 56 (2), pp. 133-158.
  • McKay A, Pal S. (2004) 'Relationships between household consumption and inequality in the Indian States'. Journal of Development Studies, 40 (5), pp. 65-90.
  • Ghosh S, Pal S. (2004) 'The effect of inequality on growth: Theory and evidence from the Indian states'. Review of Development Economics, 8 (1), pp. 164-177.
  • Ghosh S, Mourmouras IA, Pal S, Paya I. (2003) 'On public investment, the real exchange rate and growth: Some empirical evidence from the UK and the USA'. BLACKWELL PUBL LTD MANCHESTER SCHOOL, LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND: 71 (3), pp. 242-264.
  • Pal S, Makepeace G. (2003) 'Current contraceptive use in India: Has the role of women's education been overemphasised?'. European Journal of Development Research, 15 (1), pp. 149-169.
  • Pal S. (2002) 'Segmentation of rural labour contracts: Some further evidence'. Bulletin of Economic Research, 54 (2), pp. 151-180.
  • McNabb R, Pal S, Sloane P. (2002) 'Gender differences in educational attainment: The case of university students in England and Wales'. Wiley Economica, 69 (275), pp. 481-503.


    This paper examines the determinants of gender differences in educational attainment using data for all university graduates. We find that, although women students perform better on average than their male counterparts, they are significantly less likely to obtain a first class degree. There is no evidence that this is because of differences in the types of subject male and female students study or in the institutions they attend, nor does it reflect differences in personal attributes, such as academic ability. Rather, it is differences in the way these factors affect academic achievement that give rise to gender differences in performance.

  • Pal S. (2002) 'Household sectoral choice and effective demand for rural credit in India'. Applied Economics, 34 (14), pp. 1743-1755.
  • Kambhampati US, Pal S. (2001) 'Role of parental literacy in explaining gender difference: Evidence from child schooling in India'. European Journal of Development Research, 13 (2), pp. 97-119.
  • Driffield N, Pal S. (2001) 'The East Asian crisis and financing corporate investment: Is there a cause for concern?'. Journal of Asian Economics, 12 (4), pp. 507-527.
  • Pal S, Kynch J. (2000) 'Determinants of occupational change and mobility in rural India'. Applied Economics, 32 (12), pp. 1559-1573.
  • Pal S. (2000) 'Economic reform and household welfare in rural China: Evidence from household survey data'. Journal of International Development, 12 (2), pp. 187-206.
  • Pal S. (1999) 'An Analysis of Childhood Malnutrition in Rural India: Role of Gender, Income and Other Household Characteristics'. Elsevier World Development, 27 (7), pp. 1151-1171.
  • Pal S. (1999) 'Task-Based Segmentation of Rural Labour Contracts: Theory and Evidence'. Wiley Bulletin of Economic Research, 51 (1), pp. 67-94.
  • Pal S. (1998) 'A Limited-dependent Analysis of the Choice of Regular Labour Contract in Seasonal Agriculture'. Taylor & Francis Applied Economics, 30 (10), pp. 1347-1359.


    The paper examines both theoretically and empirically the factors determining the demand for regular labour in seasonal agriculture. In an implicit contract framework it is argued that there are ‘hoarding costs’ of regular labour in the slack period when there is not much work to be done. Consequently, the number of regular labour employed is constrained by the hoarding cost where larger employment-intensive farms tend to hire more regular labour. Evidence from the ICRISAT villages in India, too, show that though the marginal costs of regular labour are zero, there are significant hoarding costs of regular labour among small farms so that larger farmers are the major demanders of regular labour. Estimates of the double-hurdle model jointly determining the probability of hiring regular labour and demand for regular labour-hours (if a regular labour is hired) are shown to be an improvement over univariate tobit estimates of the demand for regular labour-hours only.

  • Pal S. (1997) 'An Analysis of Declining Incidence of Regular Labour Contracts in Rural India'. Taylor & Francis Journal of Development Studies, 34 (2), pp. 133-155.


    Evidence obtained from the ICRISAT villages in India suggests that the decline of regular contracts has been accompanied by the growth in real wages and casualisation of the rural labour force. In view of this evidence, the article examines the causes of the declining incidence of regular contracts in rural India. We argue that this has been caused by the leftward shift in the regular labour supply curve due to improved employment and credit opportunities and not an upward movement of the labour demand curve as manifested by the increase in real wages over the years.

Book chapters

  • Kynch J, Pal S. (2000) 'The Dynamics of Poverty: Occupational Mobility in Rural India'. in Perdikis N (ed.) Indian Economy: Contemporary Issues Ashgate

Other publications

  • Pal S, Palacios R. (2006) Old Age Poverty in the Indian States: What the Household Data Can Say?. World Bank, Washington DC. Pension Reform Primer working paper series,

Working Papers

  • Bhaumik S, Pal S, Owolabi O. (2016) Information Costs, Institutional Distance, and Entry Mode Choice of Financial Intermediaries: Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe.

Page Owner: sp0028
Page Created: Wednesday 11 January 2012 16:27:30 by ri0002
Last Modified: Friday 26 January 2018 11:19:23 by lo0007
Expiry Date: Thursday 11 April 2013 16:26:41
Assembly date: Sat Feb 24 00:19:43 GMT 2018
Content ID: 71304
Revision: 50
Community: 1168

Rhythmyx folder: //Sites/ Surrey Business School/people
Content type: rx:StaffProfile