Economics Ph.D. Student Wins Prestigious Fellowship

Hewlett Foundation funding will support Pallavi Panda’s research on the effects of trade on infant mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa

Pallavi Panda

Pallavi Panda has won a fellowship to further her research on the effects of trade on infant mortality in Africa.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Pallavi Panda, a Ph.D. candidate in economics at UC Riverside, has won a Hewlett/IIE Dissertation Fellowship in Population, Reproductive Health, and Economic Development to further her analysis of the effects of trade on infant mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The two-year fellowship will support Panda’s dissertation research, which examines whether a country’s gains in trade also translate into improved health for its citizens, specifically, if it results in the deaths of fewer infants younger than 1 year of age.

“I was always interested in health issues in developing countries,” Panda said of her dissertation topic. “Reducing infant mortality is one of the major Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations and is in focus in Africa especially.”

Panda’s adviser, Anil Deolalikar, professor of economics and dean of the new School of Public Policy, said, “Pallavi’s award is a great honor not only for her but for UCR, as the Hewlett/IIE fellowship is one of the most competitive fellowships in the area of population and development economics. The few students who receive this fellowship are typically enrolled in the top graduate programs in economics and sociology in the country, such as Harvard, Penn, Columbia and Michigan.”

As she began her research, Panda said, she found a gap in existing studies when it came to analyzing the effect of a macroeconomic policy — policies that affect the whole economy, like trade — on micro/individual development — like improved health of babies.

“My research is a step toward analyzing the deep-rooted change that such a policy may have on an economy’s development rather than just being a transient change in income, whether economic gains from trade provide long-term developmental gain for the society rather than just a short-term economic boost,” she explained.

Panda earned a B.A. in economics from Delhi University and an M.A. in economics from the Delhi School of Economics, India.

The Hewlett/IIE fellowship provides up to $20,000 per year for two years to support dissertation research on topics that examine how population dynamics and family planning, and reproductive health influence economic development, including economic growth, poverty reduction, and equity. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to help solve social and environmental problems in the United States and around the world, according to the foundation website.

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