South-Asia Research Network

The South-Asia Research Network (SARN) is a multidisciplinary network that brings together researchers and scholars, including PhD students, from universities and other research institutions, working on economic issues in South Asia.

We engage with business and policy makers on high-priority market-related research issues with a potential for policy impact, as well as high-quality academic publications.

Our researchers have diverse interests. Some recent projects on South Asia include topics such as microfinance, technology adoption and diffusion, education, health and nutrition, measurement and analysis of poverty, and corruption. A number of researchers are collecting primary data, conducting field experiments, including randomised control trials in South Asia. We also collaborate with NGOs in South Asia to implement the field work.

We work on macroeconomic and trade issues related to developing countries such as banking financial markets and the agricultural and labour markets. The areas of research include:

  • Changes in consumer markets, increasing demands for improved food quality, safety and standards
  • Fostering integration of small producers into technologically-sophisticated modern value chains, linking them to large-scale commercial enterprises
  • Related financing, equity and regulatory issues.

A number of our research projects have been funded by the Australian Research Council, DFAT, International Growth Centre, the Asian Development Bank, the ILO and the World Bank.

Research highlight

Associate Professor Asad Islam is leading a project that involves randomised experiments to evaluate effectiveness of greater parental involvement and supplementary teaching in Bangladesh.

The first phase of the project was recently completed, which shows that parental involvement could boost their children education significantly. However, it appears that children in classroom who are left behind did not improve much. This has led to the introduction of an intervention on supplementary teaching, particularly targeting girls and underperforming students.

The researchers are working in about 400 primary schools to understand the effectiveness of the intervention based on the different backgrounds of students. The project is being funded by AusAID (DFAT).