Luca Maria Pesando

Associate Professor of Social Research and Public Policy, Associate Program Head of Social Research and Public Policy Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Education: BA Bocconi University; MA Bocconi University; MA University of Pennsylvania; PhD University of Pennsylvania

Research Areas: Family; Poverty; Inequality; Demography; Education; Health; Youth; Child Development; Technology; Big Data; Computational Social Science; Public Policy; Policy Evaluation; Comparative Studies; Cross-Country Analyses; sub-Saharan Africa; Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Luca Maria Pesando is an Associate Professor of Social Research and Public Policy at NYUAD.​​​​​​ Before joining NYUAD, he was an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Demography at the Department of Sociology and Centre on Population Dynamics, McGill University, and a William Dawson Scholar (outstanding early-career researcher). He is a research affiliate at the Population Studies Center (PSC) of the University of Pennsylvania and at the Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy at Bocconi University. He is also a 2022-2025 Jacobs Foundation Research Fellow. On the side, he works as a part-time consultant with the UNICEF Office of Research and MIT Solve.

Pesando's research lies in the areas of social, economic, and digital demography. He is interested in issues of family poverty, inequality, gender, stratification, intra- and inter-generational processes, technology adoption, and interactions between life-cycle events and human capital accumulation. His overarching research aim is to produce better knowledge on the link between family change and educational inequalities in areas where these dynamics are changing rapidly and scant research is available.

Most of Pesando's work takes an international comparative perspective and focuses on low- and middle-income contexts undergoing economic, social, and demographic transformations. His main interest is in sub-Saharan Africa, but he has also conducted research on Europe, South Asia, Latin America, and the US. In his research, he combines theoretical approaches from sociology and demography with the use of advanced econometric and statistical techniques. Thanks to his background in economics and applied statistical analysis — and prior work experience in the policy world - he has considerable expertise in implementing and evaluating randomized and quasi-randomized study designs. More recently, he has increasingly conducted research using big data from Google, Facebook, and Twitter to map and understand socio-demographic phenomena and digital divides, including in times of crisis.

Courses Taught