Dr Kumar earned his postgraduate diploma in management from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and his M A in economics from Bangalore University. He also holds a Master's degree in public administration and a Ph.D in political economy and government from Harvard University.
Shiva Kumar teaches economics and public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and is a visiting professor at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. He has focused his research on poverty and human development, social sector analysis, and the impact of development policies on children and women.
Kumar has been a regular contributor to UNDP's Annual Human Development Reports. He has also been associated with the preparation of national human development reports in a number of countries including Bhutan, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar and Serbia. In 2003, Kumar co-edited the book Readings in Human Development. His other publications include the Public Report on Basic Education (PROBE) (Oxford University Press, 1999) and a co-authored report entitled, Women in India: How free? How Equal?, for the UN System in India.