What Makes People Move

Veda Narasimhan’s Quest to Understand Her Home Country

Human history can be largely told as the story of humanity on the move. People move to villages, cities, states, countries, and continents. They move for many different reasons. NYUAD Assistant Professor of Economics Veda Narasimhan is researching those reasons, focusing on India, where she was born. 

“My focus is really about linkages between rural and urban areas,” Narasimhan said. “That’s very exciting because this is a very big policy question for countries like India because they have large rural populations that are slowly urbanizing.”

Narasimhan is researching how public services provided by elected officials in smaller Indian villages impact residents and the surrounding areas. Including how ensuring access to education, building roads, or offering social security affects migration between villages and from villages to urban areas.

“I spent a lot of time in India, and you see many of these dichotomies of extremely wealthy, extremely poor. A lot of the time, you wonder why these inequalities exist, and secondly, what can you do to get rid of some of these inequalities? she said.

Narasimhan’s work focuses on predominantly agricultural, rural village communities in India with fewer than 20,000 residents. She said her research suggests that when small elected governments create a social services system, they are not only improving the living standards within the community but also helping their residents gain skills that allow them to move and find better jobs elsewhere. But even if some residents move away, Narasimhan found those villages can still grow because new people are moving in, seeking the public services that don’t exist where they’re coming from.

Narasimhan’s move to NYUAD was about growth. She was drawn by NYUAD’s culture, and she is closer to home.

“This is a place that seems to be growing, changing almost daily,”  Narasimhan said. 


It is very multicultural, both faculty and student body, which I think is nice for bringing in new ideas and perspectives you may not have seen elsewhere. For me, that was a big, big motivating factor.

NYUAD Assistant Professor of Economics Veda Narasimhan

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