Underlying all of my work is an interest in how places create opportunity for people. My research looks at economic inequalities with a relational approach. This means I look at how the networks, divisions of labor, and institutions in which actors’ (e.g. workers, firms) are embedded, shape economic outcomes. I use a range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. A key theme in my work is understanding how the drivers of economic disparities across city-regions also produce unequal outcomes for different segments of the population (e.g. across race, gender, or educational attainment).
One area of research centers on how the dynamics of mobility and population change across U.S. city-regions produce inequalities between people and places. My current research in this area is an NSF-funded project examining whether urbanization causes racial and gender wage inequality to increase. I’ve also looked at whether the high cost-of-living in “superstar” U.S. cities (in particular Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, New York, and Washington, DC) is causing low socioeconomic status, non-White, and immigrant households to move out of these cities and into entirely new city-regions (see my paper in Environment and Planning A). Further research has explored the effects of urban immigrant diversity on workers wages, and how the relationship between the two is moderated by occupational and residential immigrant integration (see my paper in the Journal of Economic Geography).
A second research area centers on the drivers of uneven economic development across U.S. city-regions, with particular attention to the role of firms’ ownership linkages across space. I have explored in particular how firms’ outward linkages (i.e. ties they form to other firms outside and within the U.S. urban system) shape economic development in their home regions. To this end I have found that firms' outward linkages can generate positive effects on home region income levels (contrary to the popular belief that they simply move jobs and resources to another location), but that this effect operates primarily through elevating the wages of the most formally-educated workers, thus increasing inequality between different segments of the workforce. Firms' outward ties also appear to have bigger effects in cities that already have high average levels of economic development, leading to inequality between places. This work has been published in the Journal of International Business Policy, Economic Geography, ZFW (the German Journal of Economic Geography), and Competitiveness Review. Works in progress in this research area examine the drivers of economic development in small, isolated U.S. cities, as well as whether firms' in major globally connected U.S. cities have "left-behind" their "hinterland" regions.
In prior work I have also looked at institutional practices in local subcultural “scenes” which have important feedbacks with the cultural industries. Using archival and interview methodologies, this research shows that the growth of scenes depends on the extent to which actors within them develop inclusive institutions, as well as robust networks with other actors. This work has been published in Geoforum.