Basu is currently professor in the Department of Developmental Sociology at Cornell University and a Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation in Washington DC. She was also the Director of the South Asia Program at Cornell University for six years. She has taught at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi, the Harvard School of Public Health and Georgetown University. Basu has published widely in the areas of reproductive health and family planning, gender and development, child health and mortality, and the context and politics of population policy. She has served/serves on the governing boards of the Population Association of America (PAA), the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP), the Population Council in New York, the Population Reference Bureau in Washington DC and on the editorial boards of several academic journals.
She was the chair of the IUSSP Scientific Committee on Anthropological Demography, a member of the Committees on Reproductive Health and on Population Projections of the National Research Council at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a member of the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. She is the editor of the Policy Briefs series of the Sociology of Development section of the American Sociological Association.