Maithreyi Gopalan

Institution: The Pennsylvania State University

Maithreyi Gopalan is Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy at Penn State. She earned a doctorate from the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs from Indiana University, Bloomington. She engages in interdisciplinary, policy-relevant, social science research exploring the causes and consequences of racial and socioeconomic disparities in education and health using experimental and quasi-experimental research methods. She has applied psychological insights to analyze social and educational policy issues affecting child and adolescent development. More recently, in a new line of research, she is exploring the impact of child and adolescent health on subsequent human development. Specifically, she is examining the impact of health policies on children’s development and the short- and long-term consequences of adverse adolescent mental health on subsequent educational attainment and life course trajectories. She hopes to better engage with a healthy disparities lens to this line of research.


Jilli Jung, Maithreyi Gopalan.

Youth voter turnout remains stubbornly low and unresponsive to civic education. Rigorous evaluations of the adoption of civic tests for high school graduation by some states on youth voter turnout remain limited. We estimate the impact of a recent, state-mandated civics test policy—the Civics Education Initiative (CEI)—on youth voter turnout by exploiting spatial and temporal variation in the adoption of CEI across states. Using nationally-representative data from the 1996-2020 Current Population Survey and a Difference-in-Differences analysis, we find that CEI does not significantly affect youth voter turnout. Our null results, largely insensitive to a variety of alternative specifications and robustness checks, provide evidence regarding the lack of efficacy of civic test policies when it comes to youth voter participation.

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Lindsey Rose Bullinger, Maithreyi Gopalan, Caitlin Lombardi.
Publicly funded adult health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has had positive effects on low-income adults. We examine whether the ACA’s Medicaid expansions influenced child development and family functioning in low-income households. We use a difference-in-differences framework that exploits cross-state policy variation and focus on children in low-income families from a nationally representative, longitudinal sample followed from kindergarten to fifth grade. The ACA Medicaid expansions improved children’s reading test scores by approximately 2 percent (0.04 SD). Potential mechanisms for these effects within families are more time spent reading at home, less parental help with homework, and eating dinner together. We find no effects for children’s math test scores or socioemotional skill development.

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