Chandrasekhar is an Associate Professor at the economics department at Stanford University. He works on development economics.
He studies the role that social networks play in developing countries. A social network is a web of connections between units, such as financial relationships between households in a village. Developing countries are marked by a lack well-functioning formal institutions. For instance, village farmers often don't have access to banks, insurance and court systems may not work well. As a consequence, individuals come to rely on their social networks to mediate and facilitate economic interactions. He is particularly interested in how the economics of networks can help us understand information aggregation failures and breakdown of cooperation in the developing world.
The language of networks is helpful in studying both social learning and cooperation through informal institutions. Analyzing communication networks helps policymakers choose who best to give information to have it spread, and can inform researchers of misinformation traps. Examining networks elucidates which individuals can sustain cooperation through, say, risk-sharing, even in the presence of frictions such as lack of commitment. The local and global externalities of introducing formal markets (e.g., credit markets) are also better understood through an attention to networks. His research approach is methodologically diverse. He collects novel data, conducts field experiments, conducts lab experiments in the field, and analyzes observational data. He uses both reduced form and structural methods. He uses theory to design his experiments, to analyze data, and to guide his research agenda. He also works on methodological and estimation problems that arise.