Michael Lipton was born in 1937 and educated at Haberdashers' School, London, Balliol College, Oxford, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is B.A., M.A. (Oxford) and D. Litt. (Sussex). He was a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, in 1961-8 and 1983-4.

Most of his career has been at Sussex University, starting as one of seven teacher-researchers in its first year, 1961-2. He was Reader, then Professorial Fellow, at the Institute of Development Studies in 1967-94. He has supervised 22 successful doctoral students. In the 1970s he headed a comparative analysis of village studies from developing countries, leading to books on migration (by John Connell, Biplab Dasgupta, Roy Laishley and himself), labour use (Biplab Dasgupta), and nutrition (Sue Schofield). In the 1980s he worked with Martin Greeley on post-harvest grain loss in India and Bangladesh. Since 1994 he has been Research Professor at Sussex University's Poverty Research Unit, which he founded. With this unit, he has contributed to UN Human Development Reports on poverty, globalisation and technology; to the World Bank's 2000/2001 World Development Report on poverty; to the Asian Development Bank's Emerging Asia (1997); and, as Lead Scholar, to the International Fund for Agricultural Development's 2001 Rural Poverty Report. His research stresses poverty impacts of: urban-rural and state-market linkages; farm technology and science; nutrition economics; land reform; aid; and population change. Countries of work include Bangladesh, Botswana, India, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and S Africa.

His books include Why Poor People Stay Poor: Urban Bias and World Development (1977, 1988); New Seeds and Poor People (with Richard Longhurst, 1989); Does Aid Work in India? (with John Toye, 1991); and Successes in Anti-poverty (1998, 2001). His papers include 'Balanced and unbalanced growth', Economic Journal, 1962; 'The theory of the optimising peasant', Journal of Development Studies, 1969; 'Rural development and retention of the rural population', Canadian Journal of Development Studies, 1982; 'Poverty, undernutrition and hunger' (World Bank, 1983, 1988); 'Family, fungibility and formality: rural advantages of the non-farm enterprise', in S. Amin (ed.), Human Resources, Employment and Development (1984); 'The state-market dilemma and civil society', The Round Table, 1991; 'Market relaxation and agricultural development', in C. Colclough and J. Manor (eds.), States and Markets (1993) Recent papers include 'Reviving global poverty reduction: what role for genetically modified plants?', 1999 Crawford Memorial Lecture, CGIAR; 'Food and nutrition security: why food production matters', in FAO, State of Food and Agriculture 2000 - lessons from the past 50 years; and (with Robert Eastwood) 'The impact of human fertility on poverty', Journal of Development Studies, July 1999 and 'Rural-urban dimensions of inequality change', WIDER Working Papers 200, Helsinki, 2001.

He has worked as adviser and author for the World Bank, the International Food Policy Research Institute (programme director, consumption and nutrition, 1986-8), ILO, FAO, the UN Human Development Report Office, the Asian Development Bank and other organisations. He is now coordinating an EU study of the impact of land and asset distribution on fertility, migration and environment in drylands, with fieldwork in Botswana, Northern Province of South Africa, and Rajasthan, India.

He was Managing Editor of Journal of Development Studies and serves on its Board and that of World Development. Honours include the Webb Medley Economics Prize, Oxford (1959) and the Dudley Seers Memorial Prize (with Robert Eastwood, 2001). He is a member of Council of the Overseas Development Institute, London, and a past president of the British Association for South Asian Studies - and of the British Chess Problem Society (as a FIDE International Master of Chess Problem Composition).

Michael Lipton's wife, Merle, is a political scientist and South Africa specialist. They live in Brighton, England, and have one son, Emanuel.