In the spotlight

Do Local Immigrant-Welcoming Efforts Increase Immigration? The Detroit Experience

By Xi Huang (University of Central Florida) | With decades of deindustrialization and the hard hit of the Great Recession, Detroit is characterized by urban blight, racial tension, residential segregation, and poverty. The region’s leaders have tried several countermeasures including economic diversification and “eds and meds” anchoring, and immigrant attraction appears to have become a sought-after strategy to address the region’s economic and demographic declines. This study examines whether this strategy has brought desirable outcomes, mainly focusing on the efforts led by Global Detroit that started in 2010. Using the synthetic control method that compares Detroit to a synthetical Detroit between 2011 and 2014, it finds that the immigrant-welcoming efforts have increased the immigrant share of the population in the Detroit region during the post-intervention period of 2011-2014. The share of high-skilled immigrants in the local population also increased during this time, albeit with weak statistical significance. Read More
  • Urban Affairs Review is sponsoring a $250 award given by the the Urban and Local Politics Section for the Best Paper in Urban or Regional Politics presented at the 2021 American Political Science Association conference. We encourage chairs of all Urban and Local Politics Section panels to nominate papers. We also welcome self-nominations. Papers presented on any panel associated with the conference are eligible for this award. Read More
  • By Germaine R. Halegoua (University of Michigan) and Bonnie J. Johnson (University of Kansas) | In cities around the world, informal mutual aid networks are stepping up to help local communities in the midst of a global pandemic. With stay-at-home orders in effect, neighbors are providing services to other residents such as trips to the grocery store and childcare, sharing food, homemade masks, and other amenities. What are the keys to facilitating this mutual aid? Past studies have shown that during times of crisis neighbors often band together to solve problems or mobilize to support one another and improve quality of life. Even if these collaborations are only temporary, neighbors will work together during times of immediate or urgent need in order to ameliorate or deliberate about political concerns or social problems that affect them directly. Our study indicates that observability is also important to activating innate desires for neighbors to provide mutual aid. For this particular crisis, people are staying at home but they are not necessarily staying inside, they are outside walking their dogs, riding bicycles, gardening, or playing in their front yards. Neighbors can easily observe other neighbors and are able to have brief casual encounters to check in with each other and provide assistance. Read More
  • By Mahesh Somashekhar (University of Illinois at Chicago) | Many people think that gentrification leads to displacement, but academic research shows that is not always the case. Many impoverished households in gentrifying neighborhoods try and stay put because they hope to take advantage of the new amenities that gentrification brings, like new grocery stores or city parks. Even more, people in poverty move around a lot – due to eviction, unstable family arrangements, the struggle to find work – so it is hard to determine whether an impoverished person moving out of a gentrifying neighborhood is really moving due to displacement or for another reason. Read More
  • UAR's home institution, the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, invites applications and nominations for the position of Dean of the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. Read More
  • By Andrew Foell (Washington University in St. Louis) and Kirk A. Foster(East Carolina University) | Urban “redevelopment” has been a buzzword for decades – from the post-war urban renewal programs that forced many low-income African Americans from their neighborhoods to modern gentrification fueled by a middle- and upper middle-class push to reduce commute times. Such redevelopment efforts, historically, have been done absent of the residents themselves who must live with the consequences. The result is often social and cultural displacement of longtime residents. Atlanta’s West End neighborhood is a good example, particularly because of its significant place in African American history and culture and recent target of economic investment. Increased development interests spurred by the Atlanta BeltLine, a roughly $5-billion-dollar green infrastructure initiative, has heightened neighborhood concerns over issues of gentrification, resident displacement, and equitable development. With potential to be a vehicle for positive community change, the BeltLine is also emblematic of a historic legacy of racialized neighborhood disinvestment and urban renewal. Read More
  • By Laureen D. Hom (California State Polytechnic University, Pomona) | Throughout my fieldwork in Los Angeles Chinatown, I was fortunate to meet many different stakeholders to try to understand how gentrification was impacting the neighborhood. As I visited different community organizations and attended public meetings, community leaders shared their different experiences being a part of Chinatown, which led to very diverse, and often conflicting, perspectives of gentrification. At one meeting held at the local elementary school, I was introduced to a city planner, and we casually talked about our observations about gentrification in Los Angeles. As we were ending our conversation, he briefly mentioned to me how they were not just looking at demographic shifts and property value changes, but were trying to “capture the sentiment” of communities. This fleeting comment stuck with me as I realized that he may have been doing that right now at this event as he briefly spoke with almost all the different community leaders. This resonated with me throughout my fieldwork as I learned more about the community – and continues as I visit Chinatown today. When I walk through the neighborhood, my understanding of an apartment complex, the public library, or shopping plaza has completely transformed from what I thought a few years ago. I associated it with certain people and their stories, that shaped my understanding and attachment to these places. Read More
  • By Seungbeom Kang (University of Florida) | For the last few decades, rent hikes and stagnated incomes in the United States have consistently fueled a nationwide force that makes it hard for low-income households to be stably housed. According to the recent report by Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, 10.9 million renters—or one in four—spent more than half their incomes on housing in 2018 and many low-income renters’ housing situations may be easily destabilized by minor financial shocks. Read More
  • By Loren Collingwood (University of California, Riverside) and Sean Long (University of California, Riverside) | California passed its own version of the Voting Rights Act (CVRA) in 2001, aiming to diversify local elected offices. At the time, 449 of California’s 476 cities employed at-large districts to elect candidates to the city council. The CVRA compels at-large cities to transition their city council elections to a by-district basis if plaintiffs can demonstrate the presence of racially polarized voting (i.e., Latinos preferring one candidate, and Whites/Anglos another). Read More
  • By Markie McBrayer (University of Idaho) | Wichita Falls Independent School District (WFISD)—a school district in North Texas—was recently under scrutiny for unequal distribution of bilingual funding among their schools. In their school district, campuses with greater numbers and proportions of bilingual students received less total bilingual funding from the district. For instance, Zundy Elementary in WFISD received $32,000 for their 140 qualifying bilingual students, while Southern Hills Elementary received $236,000 in bilingual funding for their 88 qualifying students, suggesting vast inequities in the school district. Deborah Palmer, a professor of education equity and cultural diversity at the University of Colorado in Boulder, stated that unequal distributions of bilingual resources, like those seen in WFISD, are “fairly drastic inequities” and should be considered “a serious issue.” Read More
  • By Hao Chen (Nanjing University), Lili Wang (Southern University of Science and Technology), and Paul Waley (University of Leeds) | Our study takes place in Laochengnan (old city south, literally translated), a historic area in the old city of Nanjing, China. Nanjing used to be the ancient capital of China's ten dynasties and is famous for its historic heritage. The Laochengnan area is located in the south of the old city, comprised of thousands of traditional houses inherited from Ming or Qing dynasties. Because of its long-standing history and rich folk culture, many local people and scholars regard it as the cultural root of Nanjing. As in many other Chinese cities, Laochengnan faced the threat of redevelopment. Since 2006, the local government has tried to transform the area into a high-end residential area and a commercial and business district. Such entrepreneurial plans triggered widespread and intense tensions and conflicts between local governments, local cultural activists, national cultural elites, the central government, and local residents. These tensions and conflicts are, our research shows, organized around three competing urban visions – entrepreneurial redevelopment, historical conservation, and community conservation. Read More
  • By Eric Stokan (University of Maryland, Baltimore County), Aaron Deslatte (Indiana University Bloomington), and Megan E. Hatch (Cleveland State University)| Local governments play a central role in promoting the economic health and vitality of their community.  Ensuring adequate jobs and bolstering revenues falls squarely within the purview  of municipal governments, and they have the capacity to use a range of policy tools to this end (tax abatements, tax increment financing, business incubators, etc.).  Research has noted a shift in the type of policies that have been used over time, referencing distinct economic development “waves” where local governments in the United States have shifted focus from business attraction to retention to entrepreneurship and more recently to promoting equity and sustainability.  This is reflected in the type of policies they use, from traditional financial tax incentives like property tax abatements to retention surveys to business incubators and finally to community development loans and provisions to ensure affordability of housing and the formation of community development corporations.  Researchers have long been curious about the factors that drive the decision to use certain types of policies and why local governments would place greater weight on goals related to economic growth than on equity or sustainability. Read More
  • We are pleased to announce that our two-year Journal Impact Factor score has increased from 2.192 to 3.032 and our five-year impact score increased from 2.551 to 3.629. This is the fifth consecutive year our scores have increased and these are our best numbers yet. Thank you to everyone who supports UAR as an author, reviewer, or reader! Read More
  • By Ting Guan (Beijing Normal University) and Tao Liu (Zhejiang University) | Conventional wisdom suggests that representation is closely linked to democracy and its related political and organizational institutions such as democratic elections and constitutional states (Pitkin 1967). However, if we look back in history, neither the concept nor the practice of representation has necessarily been linked to democracy or elections. Moreover, contemporary scholars have shown clearly from a theoretical approach that political representation and representative claims exist in non-democratic settings. In this study, we have explored participatory representation in the Chinese context, to better understand its operational mechanisms and functional logic. Read More
  • The Harris Poll has recently released a survey in which they teamed up with the MacArthur Foundation and surveyed nearly 1,000 Chicagoans to better understand Chicago's biggest challenges regarding public safety. Read More
  • By Jayce Farmer (University of Nevada) | Residential and small business consumers account for over 38% of the nation’s energy consumption. Therefore, policies emphasizing sustainability at the community-level become vital for urban communities. Yet, there is limited understanding regarding the roles state and local government relationships play in community focused sustainability. Read More
  • By Agustin León-Moreta (University of New Mexico) | Conservation is a defining policy challenge of our time. With growing urbanization, the conservation of open spaces takes center stage in global debates on livability in cities. Multiple public goods result from the conservation of natural resources in metropolitan areas. They include, for example, improved environments for public health, recreation, and sustainable food systems. For these and related reasons, cities are pursuing more and more alternative approaches for the conservation of land and open spaces. Read More
  • By Benjamin Egerod (Copenhagen Business School) and Martin Vinæs Larsen (Aarhus University) | Can citizens make an impact on local policy by changing whom they vote for in local elections? In a new study of local governments in Denmark spanning 35 years, we find that voters’ electoral input has a sizeable effect on what policies local governments’ pursue. Our findings, together with a number of other recent studies from the United States, upends the conventional wisdom that local government is unresponsive to citizen demands. Read More
  • By Kevin Morris and Peter Miller | The year of 2020 was one marked by disruption and upheaval as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States proceeded with scheduled elections during the pandemic, forcing voters to reconsider whether and how they would be involved in the contests. We take advantage of a natural experiment to assess how COVID and the substantial reduction in polling places affected turnout in Milwaukee during the April presidential primary election relative to a set of voters largely unaffected by closed polling places. Unlike previous cases of polling place consolidation in the literature, the episode in Milwaukee was brought about by a natural disaster at the last minute before an election rather than an administrative decision made well in advance of election day. Read More
  • By Timothy Weaver (University at Albany, SUNY) | In recent years, scholars and pundits alike have proclaimed the emergence of an urban-rural divide that now marks “America’s political faultline.” With this observation comes the apparently uncontroversial argument that, over the course of the past few decades, cities have become increasingly liberal in contrast to the deepening conservatism in the countryside. This observation seems to be confirmed by Chris Tausanovitch and Christopher Warshaw who developed a ranking of American cities according to the policy preferences of their residents. They find that almost all cities over 250,000 are on the liberal side of the liberal-conservative spectrum, with San Francisco, Washington D.C., Seattle, Detroit, and New York City all being among the top ten “most liberal” cities in the U.S. In a related move, Clarence Stone has recently argued that the developmental “urban regimes” he famously wrote about in the 1980s, have been replaced by an “urban governing order” in which the distribution of power “more fluid.” This opens to door for new actors—potentially from historically marginalized populations—to push for more progressive policies. Read More
  • By Edith J. Barrett (University of Connecticut) | The Covid-19 pandemic, the resulting economic recession, and the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 have made ever clearer the gross inequalities in urban America. They highlighted the disparities in social and material well-being and drew further attention to the missing voices of underrepresented groups in urban policy decisions. Especially overlooked in urban policy are the needs of low-income urban teenagers. Teenagers are the most frequent users of public spaces, and in fact, public spaces may be the only areas youth can claim for themselves. Read More

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Urban Affairs Review is a peer-reviewed, bi-monthly journal focused on questions of politics, governance, and public policy specifically as they relate to cities and/or their regions. The Urban Affairs Forum is a space for leading thinkers about urban issues to share their research, ideas, and experiences. Visit us for insights on local and regional politics, urban governance, and public policy that are based in the research findings of our diverse community of scholars and practitioners. You can learn more about the Forum here.

 

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