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Manita Rao, PhD

Senior Strategic Policy Advisor


Pensions and retirement savings, public finance, urban economics


Manita Rao is a senior strategic policy advisor on the financial security team at the AARP Public Policy Institute. She specializes in pensions and retirement policy, public finance, and urban economics. Rao conducts research on technological innovations in the financial sector that advance financial inclusion and address the racial wealth gap.

Before joining AARP, Rao was an assistant professor of public policy where she designed and taught courses on policy analysis, empirical research, and public finance. Prior to being in academia, as senior research associate with think tanks in the international development sector, she worked closely with banking regulators and international organizations like the World Bank on regulations that expanded access to financial services and promoted inclusive urban growth. She has also led legislative campaigns to advance gender equity through constitutional change that enshrined education as a fundamental right for all Indian citizens.

In addition, Rao has published on issues of fiscal policy, pensions, economic development, and urban growth. She is a member of the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management and the Association of Public Budgeting and Finance.

Rao holds a PhD in public policy from the University of Southern California, a master's in policy and evaluation from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a master's in social policy from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India.


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