I study social inequality and how it comes about. How do families come to have certain bundles of resources? How is inequality passed down from parents to children? How does it change over time?
I work in three main areas:
- Social stratification and mobility
- Social disparities in health
- Gender, demography, and inequality
My research is distinctive for bringing demography to bear on the study of social stratification in order to capture the multidimensionality and dynamics of inequality. I use sophisticated quantitative methods such as formal demographic models, simulations, and semi-parametric methods. I approach inequality as a process in motion rather than a static snapshot, showing how different resources are inter-related both across the life course and generations.
Because education is such an important part of one's socioeconomic position, I have studied this topic extensively. But education doesn't determine people's life chances in isolation from other social processes. My research demonstrates how education is intertwined with other social statuses, including family processes such as marriage and fertility, and how educational inequality changes across the life course, generations, and birth cohorts.
Andersson, M. and V. Maralani. 2015. "Early-Life Characteristics and Emergent Educational Disparities in Smoking." Social Science & Medicine 144:138-147.
Maralani, V. 2014. "Understanding the Links between Education and Smoking." Social Science Research 48:20-34.
Maralani, V. 2013. "The Demography of Social Mobility: Black-White Differences in Educational Reproduction." American Journal of Sociology 118:1509-1558.
Maralani, V. 2013. "Educational Inequalities in Smoking: The Role of Initiation versus Quitting." Social Science & Medicine 84:129-137.
Maralani, V. 2013. "General Education Development (GED) Credential." In Sociology of Education: An A-to- Z Guide. James W. Ainsworth (Ed.). Sage.
Berchick, E.†, W. Gallo, V. Maralani, S. Kasl. 2012. "The Effect of Inequality on the Association between Involuntary Job Loss and Depressive Symptoms." Social Science & Medicine 75:1891-1894.
Maralani, V. 2011. "From GED to College: Age Trajectories of Nontraditional Educational Paths."
American Educational Research Journal 48:1058-1090.
Maralani, V. 2008. "The Changing Relationship between Family Size and Educational Attainment over the
Course of Socioeconomic Development: Evidence from Indonesia." Demography 45:693-717.
Maralani, V. 2007. "The Transition to College from a Demographic Perspective: Past Findings and Future
Possibilities." Teachers College Record, 109:2287-2300.
Mare, R. D. and V. Maralani. 2006. "The Intergenerational Effects of Changes in Women's Educational
Attainments." American Sociological Review 71: 542-564.
Strong, M. and V. Maralani. 1999. "Farmworkers and Disability: Results of a National Survey." Journal of
Vocational Rehabilitation, 12: 45-57.
Papers under Review
Maralani, V. "An Unequal Start: The Alignment of Education and Smoking in Families of Origin."
Papers in Progress
Maralani, V. and D. McKee. "Obesity is in the Eye of the Beholder: BMI and Socioeconomic Outcomes across Cohorts."
Maralani, V. and S. Stabler†. "Investing in Children and the Work-Family Balance: A Life Course View on Breastfeeding and Labor Force Participation."
Maralani, V. and D. McKee. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Smoking and Schooling."
Maralani, V. and C. Pinar†. "How Girls Fare When Only A Son Will Do."
Maralani, V. and S. Choi†. "Cohort Trends in the Relationship between Non-Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment."
Pinar†, C. and V. Maralani. "Whose Preference? Husband-Wife Differences in Son Preference and Differential Stopping Behavior."
Maralani, V. "Parental Education, Family Income Dynamics, and the Educational Attainment of Children."
Maralani, V. and S. Stabler†. "The Fertility Patterns of Women Who Breastfeed."
† signifies student coauthor at time research conducted.
I teach classes on inequality, demography, and quantitative methods. In all my classes, I take a three-prong approach to teaching: build trust, challenge, and inspire. My students tell me that my classes are a lot of work, but that the experience is well worth the extra effort.
If you'd like to hear more about my approach to teaching, you can listen to my recent interview on the Teach Better Podcast.
Course Load: Four classes per year (Yale does not allow course buyouts)
- Methods in Quantitative Sociology—undergraduate and graduate lecture (required course), QR
- Intermediate Methods in Quantitative Sociology—graduate lecture (required course), QR
- Inequality in America—undergraduate seminar, WR
- Demography, Gender, and Health—undergraduate & graduate seminar, WR
- Numbers and Society—undergraduate demography lecture, QR
- Topics in Social Stratification—graduate seminar
QR: fulfills university quantitative reasoning requirement
WR: fulfills university writing requirement
Before becoming an academic, I worked as a policy analyst studying social programs designed to reduce school dropout and poverty. I studied these programs on the ground, interviewing the people the programs served and the staff providing the social services. I studied migrant farm workers, parents with disabilities, high school dropouts, and youth enrolled in high schools with very high dropout rates. I evaluated welfare reform initiatives, job training programs, and dropout prevention programs.
I spent several years working on the evaluation of the Quantum Opportunity Program (QOP), a comprehensive, year-round program serving at-risk youth from the summer after 8th grade until they graduated from high school.
My years as a policy analyst taught me that the key to understanding how inequality comes about—and thus, how to reduce it—is to recognize that socioeconomic resources are multidimensional, interrelated, and dynamic. Individuals and their families have bundles of resources that evolve over the life course. Today, as an academic, I study social inequality from this perspective.
Policy Reports (selected)
Maralani, V., W. McMillan, and S. Stabler. 2013. "New Haven Mapping Project Data Analysis Report." Jessie Ball duPont Fund and Yale School of Divinity.
Maxfield, M., L. Castner, V. Maralani, M. Vencill. 2003. "The Quantum Opportunity Program Demonstration: Implementation Findings." U.S. Dept. of Labor.
Maralani, V. and M. Maxfield. 1999. "The Quantum Opportunity Program Demonstration: Influencing Risk Factors and Building Resiliency in At-Risk Youth." U.S. Dept. of Labor.
Bailis, L., V. Maralani, A. Hahn, A. Sokatch. 1999. "Evaluation of New Ways Workers: Final Report." James Irvine Foundation.
London, R., V. Maralani and C. Smith. 1998. "Evaluation of North Dakota's Training, Education, Employment, and Management Program: Interim Report." North Dakota Dept. of Human Services.
Maralani, V. and M. Vencill. 1997. "WorkPlus: A Study of Implementation in Sebastopol, California." James Irvine Foundation.
Toms Barker, L. and V. Maralani. 1997. "Challenges and Strategies of Disabled Parents: Findings from a National Survey of Parents with Disabilities." Through the Looking Glass and the Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.