Underlying all of my work is an interest in how places create opportunity for people. My main field is regional economic development which I approach from a relational perspective. This means I look at how different actors’ (e.g. workers, firms) relationships, interactions and behaviors shape economic outcomes. I use a range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies and have primarily focused on three areas: migration, globalization and institutions.
In my work on migration I’ve looked at whether the high cost-of-living in five “superstar” U.S. cities (in particular Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Washington, DC) is causing people to move out of these cities and into entirely new city-regions (one paper is under review on this topic). I have also looked at the effects of urban immigrant diversity on workers wages, with particular attention to uncovering the mechanisms that underlie the commonly observed positive relationship between the two (see my paper in the Journal of Economic Geography). More recently, I have started looking at the relationship between urban population growth and racial and gender wage inequality.
In my work on globalization, I focus on how firms’ ownership linkages across space shape economic development. I have explored in particular, how firms’ outward linkages (e.g. outward foreign-direct investment or OFDI) shape economic development in their home regions. To this end I have found that OFDI can generate positive effects on home region income levels, but that this effect operates through elevating the wages of the most formally-educated workers. OFDI also appears to have bigger effects in cities that already have high average levels of economic development. This work has been published in the Journal of International Business Policy, Economic Geography, and Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie. In this area, I am currently using network analysis of two recently acquired large-N datasets to examine how firms’ linkages shape regional economic development over long time periods and within the urban systems of several different countries.
Lastly, I am interested in institutions and their role in regional economic development. Empirically I have looked at institutional practices in local subcultural “scenes” which have important feedback with the cultural industries. Using archival and interview methodologies, I find 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.