Waging a Battle Against Environmental Injustice

Global Public Affairs (GPA) at UCLA Luskin welcomed Vivek Maru, founder and CEO of the legal advocacy nonprofit Namati, to campus on Oct. 24. In his talk entitled “The Global Struggle for Environmental Justice,” Maru shared three stories of local people — smallholder farmers in Sierra Leone, fisher people on the coast of India and families in an industrial zone of Baltimore — who used the law to stand up to industries polluting their communities. Their work was supported by Namati, which trains and deploys community paralegals around the world to help people understand and exercise their legal rights. Maru said isolated incidents can lead to great change in policies and systems. He stressed the importance of the “legal empowerment cycle,” in which grassroots experiences can trigger systemic change. Namati, founded in 2011, convenes the Global Legal Empowerment Network, more than 2,000 groups and 7,000 individuals from all over the world. Members collaborate on common challenges, such as enforcing environmental law and securing basic rights to healthcare and citizenship. More information about Maru’s work is available in a free e-book, published by Cambridge University Press. — John Danly

An advocate from Namati speaks with members of a community in Mozambique about their rights. Photo courtesy of Namati

Students Reflect on International Summer Fellowships

Global Public Affairs (GPA) at UCLA Luskin provided financial support and helped secure placements for eight graduate students to work in low- and middle-income countries this past summer. Student placements spanned the globe, from as close as Mexico City to as far as Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Olivia Miller, a second-year MSW candidate, spent the summer in Bogota, Colombia, conducting fieldwork related to transgender rights, including help in organizing the grassroots Trans Pride March. “I decidedly spent [my] first weeks dedicating myself to a contributive role, recognizing the chaos of the march preparation, and putting at the center the development of my relationships with the social justice activists on the frontlines of this movement,” she wrote on the GPA blog. Urban Planning students who participated in the summer International Practice Pathway (IPP) program gained experience in transportation and infrastructure. Liliana Morales, a 2020 MURP candidate, interned with the planning department at the Ministry of Mobility in Mexico City. “I feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with professionals that are passionate and dedicated to mobility justice,” she wrote. “Mexico City is working toward improving quality of life, reducing social inequalities, diminishing gas emissions and increasing productivity through a comprehensive system that guarantees decent and safe trips for all residents.” GPA, led by Professor Michael Storper and associate director Stephen Commins, is already getting ready for its next cohort of IPP fellows, as more than 60 new UCLA Luskin students attended the fall 2019 orientation lunch. — John Danly

Read more about students’ summer fellowships on the GPA blog.

Michael Storper

I am an economic geographer and my research is about the geography of economic development. The world economy entered a new period around 1980, characterized by the main forces of technological change and globalization.  In this New Economy (now growing old), many patterns of economic development changed: the economy became more urban; people began returning to the inner parts of metropolitan areas; regional inequality increased in most countries; some regions gained in income and employment, others lost people or had declines in their economic success; inequalities between persons increased in many countries; successful people migrated to certain regions and left others; a major wave of globalization occurred, increasing the economic specialization of city-regions all over the world; this made some regions very multi-cultural, but not all; some city-regions were successful in this new economy, and others declined; development spread around the globe.

The economics of these inter-related changes are my main subject. In my different research projects, I address aspects of this big picture.

In one major recent project, I examined why cities and metropolitan regions grow and decline.  My latest big project on this subject was published in 2015 in a book entitled The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies: Lessons from San Francisco and Los Angeles (Stanford University Press).    I also published a closely-related theory book on how to understand divergent regional and urban development:  Keys to the City (Princeton University Press, 2013).

New technologies have altered the nature of employment and its geography radically in the past few decades: what kind of work we do, who does it, where it is done.  This is a principal reason for the changing geography of economic well-being.  There are winner and loser people and regions in this ongoing tumultuous change in our economies. The next wave of technological change will most likely be even more tumultuous, and it will reshuffle the cards of economic development once again.

The changes I have examined are now giving rise to very strong political reactions, in debates over trade and employment.  Much of this comes from the strong geographical differences in development I have studied over the years, with certain regions picking a return to national border and a rejection of globalization and multiculturalism, and others endorsing its continuation.   The split in development between successful and unsuccessful places makes it more urgent than ever to understand what can be done to spread prosperity to more places and more groups of people, and yet to continue the success of the places that are doing well.  This is a thorny problem for research and policy.   My research in the next few years will concentrate on the sources of unequal regional development and to understanding the politics and policy debates it generates.

—-

Beyond his core disciplinary skills in economic geography, his work on occasion draws on, and has links to, economics, sociology. and urban studies. Storper holds concurrent appointments in Europe, where he is Professor of Economic Sociology at the Institute of Political Studies (“Sciences Po”) in Paris, and a member of its research Center for the Sociology of Organizations (CS0), and at the London School of Economics, where he is Professor of Economic Geography.

Storper is currently completing a five-year research project on the divergent economic development of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area economies since 1970, which is the subject of his next book “The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies: Lessons from San Francisco and Los Angeles.” SFGate calls it “a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of California and cities more broadly.”

His Op-Ed Why San Francisco’s way of doing business beat Los Angeles’ was featured in the Los Angeles Times.

Storper received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands in 2008. He was elected to the British Academy in 2012 and received the Regional Studies Association’s award for overall achievement as well as the Sir Peter Hall Award in the House of Commons in 2012.

In 2014 Storper was named one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” by Thomson Reuters.

 

RESEARCH AND BIOGRAPHICAL LINKS

Amazon Author Page

ResearchGate

 

SELECTED BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS

The Economic Development Clubs of European Cities
Author: Michael Storper
Download file: PDF

The Neo-liberal City as Idea and Reality
Author: Michael Storper
Download file: PDF

Regional Innovation Transitions
Author: Michael Storper
Download file: PDF

Current debates in urban theory: A critical assessment
Author: Michael Storper and Allen J Scott
Download file: PDF

RGS acceptance speech
Author: Michael Stroper
Download file: PDF

Economic Growth and Economic Development: Gepgraphic Dimensions, Definitions & Disparities
Author: Maryann Feldman and Michael Storper
Download file: PDF

The digital skin of cities: urban theory and research inthe age of the sensored and metered city, ubiquitouscomputing and big data
Author: Chirag Rabari and Michel Storper
Download file: PDF

The Rise and Decline of Urban Economies: Lessons from Los Angeles and San Francisco
Author: Michael Storper, Tom Kemeny, Naji Makarem and Taner Osman
Publisher: Stanford University Press, August 2015

Cohesion Policy in the European Union: Growth, Geography, Institutions
Author: Michael Storper, Thomas Farole, Andres Rodriguez-Pose
Download file: PDF

Governing the Large Metropolis
Author: Michael Storper
Download file: PDF

Is Specialization Good for Regional Economic Development?
Author: Michael Storper, Thomas Kemeny
Download file: PDF

The Nature of Cities: The Scope and Limits of Urban Theory
Author: Michael Storper, Allen J. Scott
Download file: PDF

Keys to the City: How economics, institutions, social interactions and politics affect regional development
2013 (June).  Princeton: Princeton University Press
Q&A

Speech accepting the Sir Peter Hall Award in the House of Commons, 2012
Download file: PDF

Book Review, Glaeser’s Triumph of the City
Author: Michael Storper
Journal of Economic Geography

Rising Trade Costs? Agglomeration and trade with endogenous transaction costs
2008. co- authored with Gilles Duranton. Canadian Journal of Economics 41,1: 292-319

Rethinking Human Capital, Creativity, and Urban Growth
2009  Co-authored with Allen J. Scott, Journal of Economic Geography :147-167, January

Why Does a City Grow? Specialization, Human Capital, or Institutions?
2010 Michael Storper,  Urban Studies v.47, 10: 2027-2050
Download file: PDF

Cohesion Policy in the European Union: Growth, Geography, Institutions
2011  TC Farole, A Rodriguez Pose, M. Storper, Journal of Common Market Studies 49,5: 1089-1111

Should Places Help One Another? Justice, Efficiency and Economic Geography
Author: Michael Storper. 2011  European Urban and Regional Studies 18,1: 3-21

The Sources of Urban Development: Wages, Housing and Amenity Gaps across American Cities
2012  Tom Kemeny and Michael Storper, Journal of Regional Science 52,1: 85-108

The Territorial Dynamics of Innovation in China and India
2012  Journal of Economic Geography, 12: 105-1085 (with Riccardo Crescenzi and Andres Rodriguez-Pose).

 

Storper on Limitations of ‘Zoning Shock Therapy’

Michael Storper, distinguished professor of regional and international development in urban planning, shared his views on the future of housing in California during a livestreamed conversation hosted by 48 Hills, an alternative news site in San Francisco. The manifold roots of the affordable housing crisis include high construction costs, income inequality, cumbersome zoning and regulation, and ongoing discrimination, Storper said. He took issue with the approach behind Senate Bill 50, the now-tabled state legislation that would permit blanket upzoning to increase the housing supply. “Both academics and some housing activists have generated a master narrative that concentrates centrally on just one element of that broader puzzle, which is zoning and regulation, and very specifically on getting more housing built as the master solution to the multifaceted problem of housing,” Storper said. He added that he was not aware of any data or research showing that this “zoning shock therapy” would work.


 

Image of downtown Los Angeles

Storper on the Roots of Housing Inequality

Michael Storper, distinguished professor of regional and international development in urban planning, co-wrote a paper featured prominently in a CityLab article. Storper and co-author Andrés Rodríguez-Pose of the London School of Economics argue that, while insufficient housing is a part of the problem, the idea that it is the main cause of urban economic problems is based on faulty premises. They find that increasing the housing supply does not lower housing costs. Rather, they find lower-income service workers move out of the city and higher-income “knowledge workers” move in. They write that the affordable housing crisis is “due less to over-regulation of housing markets than to the underlying wage and income inequalities, and a sharp increase in the value of central locations within metro areas, as employment and amenities concentrate in these places.” Storper is also the director of Global Public Affairs at UCLA Luskin.


 

Lens, Storper Offer Perspectives on Housing Bill

A CityLab article about a state bill aimed at easing California’s housing crisis cited UCLA Luskin faculty and research. The bill, SB 50, would loosen zoning restrictions to permit more housing units near jobs and transit. A diverse mix of Californians — residents of rich suburbs, neighborhoods fighting gentrification and struggling farm towns — have weighed in on both sides of the bill. UCLA Luskin Urban Planning faculty also offered competing perspectives. Associate Professor Michael Lens commented, “Homeowners generally benefit from scarcity. So pulling some of the zoning powers away from cities seems like something to consider to reduce those negative incentives.” Professor Michael Storper offered a counterpoint, noting that “some of the most diverse communities in California are made up of suburban-style, single-family homes.” The article also cited a Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies report showing that the state does not have the planned capacity to meet its housing construction goals.


 

Storper Challenges Blanket Upzoning as Solution to Housing Crisis

A Planning Report article featured Urban Planning Professor Michael Storper‘s latest research challenging blanket upzoning and the “housing as opportunity” school of thought. Upzoning has been proposed as a solution to the affordable housing crisis, aiming to increase supply and affordability through trickle-down economics. According to Storper, UCLA Luskin’s distinguished professor of regional and international development in urban planning, “Blanket upzoning is a blunt instrument, whereas people’s housing needs are diverse.” Storper highlights the unintended consequences of upzoning, which “favors those who can pay the price of housing in high-demand areas,” while the trickle-down effect to middle-class and lower-income people “will be small and could even be negative in highly desirable areas.” Storper concludes, “Affordability has to be tackled directly; it’s not going to be created through aggregate supply and trickle-down.” Storper’s comments were cited on Planetizen, the Berkeley Daily Planet, CityWatchLA, Fox&Hounds and other outlets.


Storper Weighs In on the Battle for the Bay Area’s Soul

Professor Michael Storper of UCLA Luskin Urban Planning speaks about the “contest for the heart and soul of the Bay Area” in a wide-ranging interview with Public Knowledge. Storper says the region’s rich history of social connectivity has underpinned its economic success. Now, in the face of rising inequality, “Silicon Valley capitalism must be more than about disrupting markets and daily life.” The Bay Area must draw on its “deep intellectual and humanistic traditions,” he said, “and let’s hope that it is the beginning of a new wave of balancing the advantages of the Information Age with a new public space.”

 


 

Shackling the Leviathan Balancing the citizenry’s wants with the state’s needs is critical for a successful society, says 2018 Perloff lecturer Daron Acemoglu

By Zev Hurwitz

Governments with too much or too little power can be problematic. Just ask Daron Acemoglu, the 2018 Perloff lecturer at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

In his remarks on May 8, 2018, at the Luskin School, Acemoglu reviewed some of his most recent work about institutions and societal outcomes. The event shared a title with his upcoming book, “The Narrow Corridor to Liberty: The Red Queen and the Struggle of State Against Society,” which he is co-authoring with James A. Robinson.

When it comes to issues of authority, Acemoglu said, striking the right balance is key. Too much or too little state power can lead to catastrophic violence and warfare.

“A lot of social and political theory is built around avoiding these sorts of scare scenarios,” he said.

At one extreme, a society where the government loses its means to govern can lead to chaos. Acemoglu shared a picture of the decimated city of Mosul, Iraq, following an ISIS takeover in 2014.

“This is an iconic case of what happens when a government’s law enforcement function collapses and anarchy prevails,” Acemoglu said.

On the flip side, governments with too much power can perpetrate the chaos directly. Such is the case with the state-led persecution of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar.

“What’s remarkable about this is that it wasn’t caused by the collapse of the state but was actually perpetrated by the state,” he said.

Another example of a government’s unchecked power, Acemoglu said, is China’s use of mass-pooled data to maintain social order.

Acemoglu’s upcoming book discusses the notion of “Shackling the Leviathan.” The Leviathan, as he describes it, is a large-scale controlling state entity, either a governmental institution or a ruler. “Shackling” the Leviathan is the process by which the state’s non-elite public obtains control of the Leviathan’s operations by instituting checks and balances. Acemoglu cites the United States and United Kingdom as nations that have successfully tamed the Leviathan.

“Once you create an environment in a society where its citizens shackle the Leviathan, not only does this pave the way for the emergence of liberty, but it fundamentally changes the nature of politics,” he said.

Even in modern times, some societies have managed to exist largely in peace with either extreme or absent governing structures. The Tiv in Nigeria operate without any centralized government, Acemoglu noted.

For states that successfully shackle the Leviathan, Acemoglu says, the challenge becomes maintaining the status quo. The “Red Queen” refers to a line in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” in which the monarchic leader notes, “It takes all the running you can do to stay in the same place.” Maintaining such a balance between state and citizen control is often a work in progress, and a painful one at that.

“You have to keep on running,” he said.

Acemoglu is an economics professor at MIT focusing on political economy. His prior work includes research on the role of institutions in economic outcomes for various countries.

The Harvey S. Perloff Lecture Series is named for the founding dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, which has since evolved, in part, into the Luskin School. The event was sponsored by UCLA Luskin Urban Planning and Public Policy and by Global Public Affairs.

Urban Planning Professor Michael Storper introduced the speaker by noting similarities between Acemoglu’s lecture and Perloff’s own work in regional economics.

“There’s a kind of interesting continuity over time with the themes of this lecture,” Storper said. “Institutions are the foundations of economic and social work.”

Nearly 75 students and faculty members were in attendance at the evening lecture, which was followed by a reception.