Ganga Tilakaratna is a Research Fellow and Head of Poverty and Social Welfare Policy Research at the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS). Her research and publications cover areas related to social protection, sustainable development goals (SDGs), financial inclusion, poverty and ageing. She has nearly 20 years of research experience and has led a number of research projects funded by various bilateral and multilateral organisations. She has also worked as a consultant to the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
Ganga Tilakaratna holds a B.A in Economics from the University of Manchester (UK), an MPhil in Economics from the University of Cambridge (UK) and a PhD in Development Policy and Management from the University of Manchester (UK). She has also obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in ‘Universalising Socio-Economic Security for the Poor’ from the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands, and has received training at the Boulder Microfinance Programme in Italy.
National Sub Committee on Population and Demographic Statistics
Member of the Committee
National Committee for Social Sciences
Member of the Committee
The National Science Foundation
April 2012- April 2013
Advisory Committee for the GOSL-UNDESA Project on Capacity Building in Social Impact Assessment in Sri Lanka
Member of the Committee
Poverty Reduction and Economic Growth Group (PREGG), Sri Lanka
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
May 2003 –March 2005
Enhancing Social Protection to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (2020-2021), Asian Development Bank, Manila
Strengthening national policy capacities for jointly building the Belt and Road towards the Sustainable Development Goals – phase II (2020), United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)
Tilakaratna, G. (2020), ‘Harnessing Social Protection during Pandemics’ (Chapter 6) in Sri Lanka: State of the Economy 2020, Colombo: Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka.
Tilakaratna, G. and Sooriyamudali, C. (2019), ‘Interpreting SDGs for South Asia: In Search of a Regional Framework -The Case of Sri Lanka)’ in the Development Papers Series of the UNESCAP South and South-West Asia Office (UNESCAP-SSWA)
Tilakaratna, G. and Perera, J. (2019) ‘Realising Sustainable Development Goals in the 4IR’ in Trade Insight Bulletin on ‘South Asia in Fourth Industrial Revolution’ Trade Insight, 5 (15), South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE).
Tilakaratna G., Sooriyamudali C., and Perera, A. (2019), Working Beyond the Age of Retirement: Patterns and Determinants of Elderly Labour Force Participation, Poverty, Demography and Social Welfare Series 200, Colombo: Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka.
Tilakaratna, G. (2019), ‘Achieving Equity in Post-conflict Sri Lanka’ in ‘Managing Domestic and International Challenges and Opportunities in Post-conflict Development – Lessons from Sri Lanka, Weerakoon, D. and Jayasuriya, S. (eds.), Springer Nature Singapore Pte Limited.
Ganga Tilakaratna (2018), ‘Data Constraints in Monitoring SDGs’ in “South Asian Corporation : Issues Old and New” (eds) Paras Kharel, South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE), Kathmandu
Ganga Tilakaratna and Sahan Jayawardena (2018) ‘The Effect of Social Protection on Labor Force Participation and Employment Status: Evidence from Sri Lanka’ (Chapter 14) in the ‘Employment, Social Protection and Inclusive Growth In South Asia’ edited by Dev Nathan and Akhilesh K Sharma, South Asia Press
Ganga Tilakaratna (2018) ‘Managing Risks through Sri Lanka’s Microinsurance System’ (Chapter 10) in State of the Economy, Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS)
Ganga Tilakaratna, Team leader of the study on International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) 2018 ‘Country Diagnostic on Mutual and Corporative Microinsurance in Sri Lanka’, ICMIF, UK
Jayaratne, Suwendrani; Tilakaratna, Ganga and Kelegama, Saman Kelegama (2018) Regional Integration and Poverty in South Asia (Chapter XI) pp. 273-302 in Next steps to South Asian economic union: a study on regional economic integration (phase ii), South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), 2018
Ganga Tilakaratna, Team leader of the research team prepared the Voluntary National Review on the Status of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, Ministry of Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development, June 2018
‘Country Diagnostic on Mutual and Co-operative Microinsurance in Sri Lanka’ funded by the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF), UK – on-going project
‘Employment, Living Conditions and Welfare of the Ageing Population in Sri Lanka’ funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – on-going project
Tilakaratna G, Nanayakkara W. Madurawala, S, Jayaratne, S and K Wickramasinghe (2017) ‘National Level Implications of Implementation of SDGs: The Case of Sri Lanka’ Southern Voice Occasional Paper41, Southern Voice Secretariat, Bangladesh
Tilakaratna, G. (2017). ‘Social Protection and MDGs in Sri Lanka: Implications for the Post-2015 Agenda’ Chapter 9 in Southern Perspectives on the Post-2015 International Development Agenda, (eds). D. Bhattacharya and A. O. Llanos, London and New York: Routledge
Tilakaratna G and C. Sooriyamudali (2017) ‘ Food – Based safety Net Programmes in Sri Lanka: Evolution and Transition to Cash Transfers’ , a book chapter prepared for the World Bank, Washington D.C. (forthcoming publication)
Jayaratne, S. G. Tilakaratna, and S. Kelegama, ‘Regional Integration and Poverty in South Asia’. Chapter 11 in “Moving Towards South Asian Economic Union”. SAARC Secretariat and Asian Development Bank (Forthcoming publication)
Tilakaratna, G. (2016). “Financial Inclusion in Sri Lanka: Current Status and Issues” Chapter 6 in Financial Inclusion in Asia: Issues and Policy Concerns, (eds). S. Gopalan and T. Kikuchi, UK: Palgrave-Macmillan
Report on ‘Update and Extension of the Sri Lanka Safety Nets Overview – Divineguma Programme’ a study carried out for the World Bank, Colombo, 2016
Report on ‘Sri Lanka Country Partnership Strategy 2017-2021 : Poverty Assessment’ prepared for and funded by the Asian Development Bank (with W. Nanayakkara)
Tilakaratna, G. and S. Jayawardena (2015) ‘Social Protection in Sri Lanka: Current Status and Effect on Labour Market Outcomes’ SARNET working paper No. 3, South Asia Research Network for Employment and Social Protection for Inclusive Growth (SARNET), India.
Tilakaratna, G. and D. Hulme (2015), ‘Microfinance and Multiple Borrowing in the Microfinance Sector in Sri Lanka: Another Micro-Credit Bubble in South Asia?’ South Asia Economic Journal, 16 (1) 46-63.
Tilakaratna, G., S. Jayawardena and Y. Ellepola (2015) ‘Upgrading and Improving Social Protection Index- Sri Lanka Country Report prepared for and funded by the Asian Development Bank, Manila, the Philippines (unpublished report).
Tilakaratna G., N. Herath (2015)’Poverty in Monaragala- Identifying Factors Contributed to the Rise in Poverty during 2009/10 – 2012/13′ report prepared for and submitted to the UNICEF- Colombo and the Uva Provincial Council, Sri Lanka (unpublished report)
Tilakaratna G., N. Herath and A. Galappatige (2015) ‘ Social Protection in Sri Lanka: A Household Level Analysis’ (IPS publication) , report prepared and funded by the UNICEF (unpublished report)
Tilakaratna G. (2014) ‘Social Protection and MDGs in Sri Lanka: Implications for the Post 2015 Agenda, Southern Voice on Post-MDG International Goals Occasional Paper No. 12, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Kelegama S. and G. Tilakaratna (2014) ‘Financial Inclusion, Regulation and Education in Sri Lanka’ ADBI Working Paper Series No.504, November 2014, Asian Development Bank Institute , Tokyo, Japan.
‘Millennium Development Goals Country Report -2014’ funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Colombo (member of the research team)
Tilakaratna, G., A. Galappattige, R. Jayaweera (2013), ‘Safety Nets in Sri Lanka: An Overview’, a report prepared for and funded by the World Bank, Colombo (unpublished)
Tilakaratna, G. (2013) ‘Microfinance and Multiple Borrowing in Sri Lanka’, worldpovert@manchester briefing series, Brooks World Poverty Institute (BWPI), University of Manchester, UK
Tilakaratna, G. (2013) Book review on “Why Nations Fail? The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty” by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson (2012), Trade Insight Vol 9. No.1. 2013, published by SAWTEE (Nepal).
Galappattige, A., R. Jayaweera and G. Tilakaratna (2011) ‘ Micro-insurance in Sri Lanka: Combating Multiple and Overlapping Vulnerabilities’ , Poverty and Social Welfare Series No. 9, Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Tilakaratna, G., P. Samaratunga, R. Jayathilaka, D. Marawila, A. Galappattige and R. Perera (2009) ‘Economic and Political Empowerment of the Poor: Country Studies of Sri Lanka’, CPD-SACEPS Monograph Series 3, Center for Policy Dialogue (Bangladesh) and South Asia Center for Policy Studies (SACEPS), Nepal.
Tilakaratna, G., A. Galappattige, Jayathilaka R, and R. Perera (2008), Educational Opportunities for the Poor in Sri Lanka: Assessing Spatial Disparities, Human Resource Development Series No. 6, Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Report on ‘ Review of Post-Tsunami Microfinance in Sri Lanka’ funded by the German Technical Corporation (GTZ), 2008 ( member of the research team)
Report on ‘Outreach of Microfinance Services in Sri Lanka: A Look at the Demand-Side from a Microfinance Perspective’, prepared for and funded by the German Technical Corporation (GTZ), 2008 (co-author: Ramali Perera)
Tilakaratna, G., A. Galappattige and T. Kumara (2006) ‘Annotated Bibliography on Microfinance in Sri Lanka’ , Poverty and Social Welfare Series No. 8, Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Tilakaratna G. ‘Educational Opportunities for the Poor in Sri Lanka’, Policy Brief No. 11, Inter-Regional Inequality Facility, Overseas Development Institute, UK, February 2006
Tilakaratna, G. (2006) ‘Impact of Micro-credit on Selected Household Welfare Attributes: Evidence from Sri Lanka’ in the Microfinance Gateway, CGAP, Washington D.C.
Tilakaratna, g. Kumara, P. Jayawardena and R. De Silva (2006) ‘Economic Growth, Employment and Poverty Reduction in Sri Lanka’ report prepared for and funded by the ILO, Geneva (unpublished)
Tilakaratna, G., U. Wickremasinghe and T. Kumara (2005), ‘Microfinance in Sri Lanka: A Household Level Analysis of Outreach and Impact on Poverty’, Poverty and Social Welfare Series No. 7, IPS, Sri Lanka.
Jayanetti, S. and Tilakaratna G. (2005) ‘Impact of Trade Liberalization on Poverty and Household Welfare in Sri Lanka’, Poverty and Social Welfare Series No. 6, IPS, Sri Lanka.
Jayanetti, S. and G. Tilakaratna (2005), Policy Brief on ‘Macroeconomic Policy Choices for Growth and Poverty Reduction: The Impact of Trade Liberalization on Poverty in Sri Lanka’, The North- South Institute (NSI), Canada, May 2005.
Review: “Our Future Our Responsibility: Road Map towards a Poverty Free South Asia”, Report of the Independent South Asian Commission on Poverty Alleviation (ISACPA, 2003), Sri Lanka Economic Journal, Vol. 5, No.2., 2004.
Review: “Human Development in South Asia 2001- Globalization and Human Development”, Report by the Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Center, South Asia Economic Journal, 4, No.1, 2003.
Shock Responsive Social Protection (in Context of COVID-19)
At the High-Level Seminar Series on ‘Inclusive Social Protection in Sri Lanka: Shifting the Paradigm’ Organised by UNICEF, in collaboration with Development Pathways and Verité Research
18 November 2020
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Sustainable Development Goals in Sri Lanka
At the Regional workshop on ‘Assessing the Potential Impact of the Belt and Road Initiative on Sustainable Development Goals in Asian Economies’
Organised by UNDESA and UNESCAP
25 – 26 September 2019
Working beyond the Age of Retirement: Patterns and Determinants of Elderly Labour Force Participation in Sri Lanka
At the SANEM-World Bank Third North America Discussion Forum on Emerging Global Challenges and Development Strategies in South Asia
12 July 2019
World Bank Headquarters, Washington DC, USA
Interpreting SDGs for South Asia – Sri Lanka Case Study
At the workshop on ‘Interpreting SDGs for South Asia: In Search of a Regional Framework’
Organised by UNESCAP, South and South-West Asia Office
28 March 2019
UNCC Bangkok, Thailand
Growth Acceleration and Social Inclusion in Sri Lanka
At the International Conference on ‘Sustainable Development and World Economy’
Organised by the Janki Devi Memorial College of the University of Delhi
4-5 February 2019
India International Centre, New Delhi, India
Presentation on ‘Labour Force Participation of Elderly Population in Sri Lanka: Patterns and Determinants’
UNESCAP-SANEM session on ‘Emerging Labour Markets and Employment Challenges in South Asia in the Context of SDGs’ at the 60th Annual Conference of the Indian Society of Labour Economics
Organized by UNESCAP-SANEM
19 – 21 December 2018
Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India
Presentation on ‘Interpreting SDGs for South Asia: In Search of a Regional Framework – The case of Sri Lanka’
Research Policy meeting on Interpreting SDGs for South Asia: In Search of a Regional Framework
Organised by the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and Southern Voice Network
20-21 November 2018
Income Security for Older Persons in Sri Lanka
Symposium on ‘Old-Age Income Security and Universal Basic Income in South Asia’
Organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy
New Delhi, India,
27 February 2017.
Poverty, Vulnerability and Social Welfare of the Agriculture Households
10th Annual Research Forum of the Sri Lanka Agriculture Economics Association
Colombo, Sri Lanka
8 December, 2016.
Food- Based- Safety Nets in Sri Lanka: Evolution and Transition to Cash Transfers
Workshop on ‘Food-Based Safety Nets’ organized by the World Bank
Washington D.C., USA
14-16 March, 2016.
Social Inclusion in Sri Lanka: Poverty and Ageing
Sri Lanka Economic Forum 2016 on ‘Steering Sri Lanka towards Sustainable and Inclusive Development’
Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo
7-8 January 2016.
Food Based Safety Net Programs in Sri Lanka
Workshop on ‘Food Based Safety Nets’
Organized by the World Bank
World Bank Office in Washington DC, USA
19-20 November, 2015.
Social Protection for Informal Sector Workers in Sri Lanka
2nd Social Protection Forum Asia on ‘Social Protection in the Informal Sector-Incentive or Hindrance to Formalization?’
Organized by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
27-28 October, 2015.
Financial Inclusion in Sri Lanka: Current Status and Issues
Workshop on ‘Understanding Financial Inclusion in Asia’
Organized by the Institute for Emerging Market Studies (IEMS) at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Centre on Asia and Globalization (CAG), at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY-SPP), National University of Singapore
20-21 May, 2015.
Social Protection and Labour Market Outcomes: An Empirical Analysis
International conference on ‘South Asian Economic Development: The Way Forward’
Organized by the Faculty of Economics at the South Asian University
New Delhi, India
10-11 April, 2015.
Multiple Borrowing in the Microfinance Sector in Sri Lanka’
52nd Open Forum on Poverty
Organized by the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA)
Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies, Colombo, Sri Lanka
31 March, 2015.
Social Protection and the MDGs in Sri Lanka: Implications for the Post 2015 Development Agenda
Southern Voice Research Conference
Organized by the Southern Voice on Post-MDGs in association with Think Tank Initiative (TTI) of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
16-17 February, 2015.
Social Protection in Sri Lanka
International Conference on ‘Meeting the Challenges of Employment and Social Protection in South Asia’
Organized by the South Asia Research Network on Employment and Social Protection for Inclusive Growth (SARNET) in collaboration with the UN-ESCAP, ILO, IDRC, Canada and the Institute for Human Development (IHD),
New Delhi, India
14-16 December, 2014.
Microfinance as a Tool for Empowering the Conflict Affected Communities
Seminar on ‘Microfinance for Conflict affected Communities’
Organized by the Pathfinder Foundation
BMICH, Colombo, Sri Lanka
10 January, 2014.
Social Protection for Inclusive Growth in Sri Lanka
14th Global Development Conference on ‘Inequality, Social Protection and Inclusive Growth’
Jointly organized by the GDN, ADB, East Asian Development Network and Philippine Institute for Development Studies
19 – 21 June, 2013.
Microfinance and Multiple Borrowing in Sri Lanka: Another Credit Bubble in South Asia?
Third European Research Conference on Microfinance
Organized by the Norwegian Centre for Microfinance Research
10 – 12 June, 2013.
Social Protection for Inclusive Growth in Sri Lanka
Workshop on ‘South Asia Research Network on Employment for Inclusive Growth’
Jointly organized by the Institute for Human Development (IHD), UN-ESCAP, International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Development Research Center (IDRC)
New Delhi, India
21 – 22 May, 2013.
Universalization of Social Security in Sri Lanka
Regional Symposium on Universalization of Social Security in South Asia
Co-organized by the South Asia Centre for Policy Studies and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
3 – 4 October, 2012.
Economic Growth and Employment Creation in Sri Lanka: Perspectives for an Inclusive Growth Agenda
Symposium on ‘Economic Growth and Employment Creation in South Asia’
54th Labour Conference on Indian Society of Labour Economics,
Organized by UNESCAP, International Labour Organization (ILO) and Institute for Human Development (IHD)
21 December, 2012 .
Dimensions and Dynamics of Clientship in the Microfinance Sector in Sri Lanka
Conference on ‘Corporate Governance, Regulation and Development’
Organized by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
25 September, 2009.
Economic and Political Empowerment of the Poor in Sri Lanka
Conference on ’Rethinking Poverty Eradication in South Asia: An Agenda for Inclusive Development’
Organized by the South Asia Centre for Policy Studies (SACEPS) and Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)
12-13 October, 2008.
Economic Growth, Employment and Poverty Reduction in Sri Lanka
“Employment Generation for Poverty Reduction in Sri Lanka”
Jointly organized by the ILO and UNDP
Colombo, Sri Lanka
26 September, 2006.
Upgrading Educational Opportunities for the Poor in Sri Lanka
“Addressing Inequality: Policies for Inclusive Development”
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
11-12 July, 2005.
Microfinance in Sri Lanka: A Household Level Analysis of Outreach and Impact on Poverty
“Fourth Annual Conference on Poverty and Economic Policy”
Colombo, Sri Lanka
13-17 June, 2005.
Trade Policy Reforms for Growth and Poverty Reduction in Sri Lanka
“Economic Policy Choices for Poverty Reduction”
Organized by the North South Institute, Canada
Wilton Park, Sussex, U.K.
10-14 June, 2004.
Looking at Poverty in the SAARC Region: Current Status and Challenges
“Poverty in South Asia”
Organized by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE)
9 December, 2003.
Tilakaratna, G., De Mel, D. and Huang, Z., SDG implementation and budgeting: Sri Lanka’s efforts and challenges, UNESCAP Blog, 07 August 2019.
‘Sri Lanka’s Sustainable Development Act: Improving Institutional Coherence for SDGs‘, Southern Voice blog, 11 July 2018
‘Regulating Financial Services for the Poor in Sri Lanka: A Closer Look at the Microfinance Act’ for the Poverty Day -17th of October2016 (with Chinthani Sooriyamudalli), Blog Article for Talking Economics
‘From MDGs to Post-MDGs: Some Lessons from Sri Lanka’ -14 August 2014, Article for Southernvoice.org
‘Addressing Issues of Social Protection to Enhance Equity in Sri Lanka’ -20 February 2015, Blog Article for Talking Economics
‘Create Equal Opportunities for the Poor’, The Daily Star, Bangladesh 17 October 2016
‘Microfinance as a tool for empowering conflict affected communities’, Daily FT, 21 January 2014
‘Sri Lanka takes regional lead in Financial Inclusion’ – Mirror Business, Daily Mirror, 24 November 2014
‘Free education breeds inequality and regional disparities’, The Island, 30 march 2009
Participated in the ‘Rupees and Sense’ program on ‘Spatial Disparities in Education and Poverty’ aired by the Independent Television Network (ITN), April 2009.
Participated in the ‘Rupees and Sense’ program on ‘Current Status and trends of Poverty in Sri Lanka’ aired by the Independent Television Network (ITN), March 2007.