Saumitra Jha

Saumitra Jha
Associate Professor, Political Economy
Contact Info
Associate Professor of Political Science and of Economics (by courtesy), School of Humanities and Sciences
Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Academic Area: 
Political Economy

Research Statement

Saumitra Jha’s research focuses upon understanding the effectiveness of organizations and innovations that societies have developed to address the problems of violence and other political risks, and to seek new lessons for fostering peace and development. So far, his research has focused on understanding and empirically assessing the effectiveness of four related approaches: (1) mechanisms that support inter-ethnic complementarities and trade, (2) financial innovations that can allow conflictual groups to credibly share in the gains from peace, (3) organizational innovations that can sustain nonviolent political movements at scale, and (4) mechanisms that recognize and productively channel the organizational skills of veterans acquired during war. Saum has a specific interest in the South Asian experience in comparative perspective.


Saumitra Jha is an associate professor of political economy at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and, by courtesy, of economics and of political science, and convenes the Stanford Conflict and Polarization Lab. He is also a senior fellow at the Center for Democracy, Development and Rule of Law within the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Affairs and at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. In 2020–21, he will be a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

Jha’s research has been published in leading journals in economics and political science, including Econometrica, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the American Political Science Review and the Journal of Development Economics, and he serves on a number of editorial boards. His research on ethnic tolerance has been recognized with the Michael Wallerstein Award for best published article in Political Economy from the American Political Science Association in 2014 and his coauthored research on heroes with the Oliver Williamson Award for best paper by the Society for Institutional and Organizational Economics in 2020. Jha was honored to receive the Teacher of the Year Award, voted by the students of the Stanford MSx Program in 2020.

Jha holds a BA from Williams College, master’s degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in economics from Stanford University. Prior to joining Stanford GSB, he was an Academy Scholar at Harvard University. He has been a fellow of the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance and the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University. Jha has consulted on economic and political risk issues for the United Nations/WTO, the World Bank, government agencies, and for private firms.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD, Economics, Stanford University, 2006
  • Master of Advanced Study: Mathematics (Part III), University of Cambridge, 2001
  • Master of Philosophy: Economics, Cambridge University, 2000
  • BA summa cum laude, with highest honors: Economics and Mathematics, Williams College, 1999

Academic Appointments

  • Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, 2020–21
  • Associate Professor of Political Economy, and by courtesy of Economics and Political Science, Stanford University 2013–present
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, 2017–present
  • Senior Fellow, Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Affairs, Stanford University, 2017–present
  • Assistant Professor of Political Economy, and by courtesy of Economics and Political Science, Stanford University 2008–2013
  • Fellow, Center for Study of Democratic Politics and Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance, Princeton University, 2012–2013
  • Academy Scholar, Harvard University, 2006–2008

Professional Experience

  • Consultant, Google, 2017
  • Consultant, World Bank, 2001, 2008, 2011
  • Editor, International Trade Center, UNCTAD/WTO, 1998

Awards and Honors

  • Teacher of the Year, awarded by the Stanford GSB Sloan Fellows/MSx Class of 2020
  • Oliver Williamson Award for Best Paper, Society for Institutional and Organizational Economics, 2020
  • Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences 2020–2021
  • Peiros Family Faculty Fellow, 2018–2019, 2019–2020
  • Winnick Family Faculty Fellow, 2017–2018
  • Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Developing Economies Award, 2015
  • Michael Wallerstein Award for best published article in Political Economy in previous year, American Political Science Association, 2014
  • John A. Gunn & Cynthia Fry Gunn Faculty Scholar, 2013–2014
  • Fellow, Center for Study of Democratic Politics, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, 2012
  • Fellow, Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance, Princeton University, 2012
  • John A. Gunn and Cynthia Fry Gunn Faculty Scholar, 2011-2012
  • Academy Scholar, Harvard University, 2006–2008
  • Koret Foundation Dissertation Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, 2005
  • Herchel Smith Scholar, Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, 1999–2001
  • Carl Van Duyne Prize in Economics, Williams College, 1999
  • Phi Beta Kappa (junior year), Williams College, 1998


Journal Articles

Saumitra Jha, Moses Shayo. Econometrica. September 2019, Vol. 87, Issue 5, Pages 1561-1588.
Saumitra Jha. Economic Policy. August 2018, Vol. 33, Issue 95, Pages 485-526.
Saumitra Jha, Moses Shayo. The Political Economist. April 2016, Vol. XII, Issue 1.
Saumitra Jha. Quarterly Journal of Economics. August 2015, Vol. 103, Issue 3.
Saumitra Jha. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. August 2014, Vol. 104, Pages 18-36.
Rikhil Bhavnani, Saumitra Jha. Economics of Peace and Security Journal. April 2014, Vol. 9, Issue 1, Pages 80-92.
Saumitra Jha. World Financial Review. 20, 2013.
Saumitra Jha. Business and Politics. 2013, Vol. 15, Issue 1, Pages 117–136.
Saumitra Jha. American Political Science Review. 2013, Vol. 107, Issue 4.
Saumitra Jha, Steven Wilkinson. American Political Science Review. 2012, Vol. 106, Issue 4, Pages 883-907.
Saumitra Jha. Institutions and comparative economic development. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, Pages 131-151.
Radu Ban, Saumitra Jha, Vijayendra Rao. Journal of Development Economics. 2012, Vol. 99, Issue 2, Pages 428–438.
Yadira Gonzalez de Lara, Avner Greif, Saumitra Jha. American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings. 2008, Vol. 98, Issue 2, Pages 105-109.
Saumitra Jha, Vijayendra Rao, Michael Woolcock. World Development. 2007, Vol. 35, Issue 2, Pages 230-246.
Saumitra Jha. Economics of Peace and Security Journal. 2007, Vol. 2, Issue 2, Pages 89-93.

Working Papers


Degree Courses


This course addresses managerial issues in the social, political and legal environments of business. Cases and readings emphasize strategies to improve the performance of companies in light of their multiple constituencies, both within the US and...

This course surveys emerging research in political economics as it applies to developing societies, emphasizing both theoretical and empirical approaches. Topics will include: corruption and "forensic" political economics, institutional reform...

Executive Education & Other Non-Degree Programs

Teaching Materials

  • POLECON 683 Political Development Economics Syllabus PDF

Stanford University Affiliations

Greater Stanford University

Service to the Profession

  • Associate Editor, Journal of Development Economics, 2016–present
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Comparative Economics, 2017–present
  • Editorial Board, Global Perspectives, 2018–present
  • Editorial Board, Business and Politics, 2020- present
  • Faculty Fellow, Jameel Poverty Action Lab
  • Faculty Fellow, Center for Effective Global Action
  • Faculty Fellow, Association for Analytic Learning about Islam and Muslim Societies

In the Media

Global Financial Literacy Education Center, 2020
Stanford Report, October 29, 2014
Saumitra Jha suggests that new evidence calls for a reinterpretation of Gandhi's non-violent movement for independence in India. He explains how today's democratic movements can benefit by adopting lessons from India's independence movement and its iconic leader.
The Business Standard, September 26, 2009
The Indian Express, September 26, 2009
Rediff, September 26, 2009
The Indian Express, November 6, 2009
The Indian Express, October 13, 2008
The New York Sun, May 24, 2008

Insights by Stanford Business

December 9, 2020
We’ve compiled an eclectic collection of books to share — or hoard — while sheltering in place this season.
November 10, 2020
The political polarization wrought by the 2020 presidential election is bound to creep into the workplace. Here are some ways managers can become peacekeepers.
October 21, 2020
Stanford researchers measure the depth of our partisan divide — and suggest some ways to bridge it.
July 15, 2020
Helping voters learn by trading in the stock market can shift their perspective and politics.
July 2, 2019
Escape the heat with books recommended by Stanford business professors.
March 27, 2018
When Israelis invest in stocks, they are more likely to support peace negotiations, new Stanford research shows.
May 2, 2017
The divide between urban and rural voters is growing everywhere: from New York City to farm towns.
January 30, 2017
By a large margin, more people saw actual election news, not the fabricated kind.
April 29, 2015
A Stanford scholar explains why financial mechanisms could be useful to align diverse interests.
February 28, 2014
A political economist explores how commerce can help promote peace.
October 9, 2012
An economist shows how financial innovation can align incentives and help reduce ethnic violence.
August 1, 2009
How slums are run depends on a variety of factors, such as their ethnic makeup, political connections, and how long they have been established.

School News

October 30, 2020
How a medieval navigation tool symbolizes the link between world trade and inter-ethnic harmony.
July 24, 2020
MBA, MSx, and PhD students honored Glenn Kramon, Saumitra Jha, and Arvind Krishnamurthy for their impact in teaching and service.
June 2, 2017
In the aftermath of the U.S. presidential election, a workshop series was launched to help students move beyond political conflict.