Storper Research Points to Roots of L.A.’s Problems

A Zocalo Public Square column on the urgency of fixing Los Angeles’ longstanding economic and equity problems cited research by Michael Storper, distinguished professor of urban planning. Storper studied the different trajectories of the Bay Area and Los Angeles, two big regional economies that were at parity in 1970, with similar education levels and numbers of engineers. The Bay Area’s leading institutions in education, business and government became highly networked and planned collaboratively. The Los Angeles region remained a collection of separate, siloed communities that competed with one another. Today, the Bay Area is 30% richer than the L.A. region, Storper found. Noting that COVID-19 made the depths of Los Angeles’ problems undeniable, the column called on leaders to build real foundations that allow people to find stability and health in the short term, while reducing inequality to spread prosperity in the long term. 


 

Storper on Income Equality and the California Dream

Michael Storper, distinguished professor of regional and international development in urban planning, was featured in an ABC7 News video about the evolution of the California dream. After more than a century of rapid growth, population growth in California has slowed in recent decades. Americans are choosing where to go on the basis of jobs, housing, climate, family and other factors, and many are leaving the Golden State for places such as Texas, Nevada and Arizona. Storper explained that comparing population growth rates in California to other states is like comparing apples to oranges. “Big metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco are still quite attractive to high-skilled, high-income people, so there is a net inflow of those groups,” he said. However, these areas are less attractive for low-income and low-education groups. Storper asked, “How can we deal with income inequality in ways that will enable people of all income levels to keep living in our state?”


Storper on Quality of Life in State Capitals

Michael Storper, distinguished professor of regional and international development in urban planning, was featured in a WalletHub article comparing affordability, access to education and overall quality of life in U.S. state capitals. Storper explained that the “tradition in America is to separate political capitals from major cultural or economic capitals.” As a result, many state capitals benefit from local economic stability but lack business, buzz and technological energy. However, Storper pointed out that Austin, Texas, is a notable exception as a capital with a major university hub, a gigantic tech hub, and a big music and creativity hub. Using 44 different indicators, WalletHub ranked all 50 cities and concluded that Austin ranked highest overall. Storper called Austin a “superstar metro in its own right.” However, he concluded that state capitals “don’t offer much that is particularly advantageous, except maybe relatively low land and cost of living compared to the principal cities.”


L.A.-Paris Connection Offers New Double Master’s Degree for Urban Planners UCLA Luskin's partnership with a top European university will allow graduate students to earn two distinct degrees in two years

By Mary Braswell

A new partnership between UCLA and a top European research university offers urban planning students an opportunity to earn two distinct master’s degrees in two years while studying in the global cities of Los Angeles and Paris.

Beginning in the fall of 2021, the highly regarded urban planning programs at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and France’s Sciences Po will join forces to offer a double master’s focusing on global and comparative planning and governance.

Students accepted into the program will be immersed in two thriving urban laboratories where perspectives on managing cities are quite distinct.

“The approach to urban governance in France and across Europe is very different from the American approach,” said Professor Chris Tilly, chair of UCLA Luskin Urban Planning. “This double master’s is a unique opportunity to learn how things are done in different cultures and to bring that knowledge to a range of global urban environments.”

‘There could not be a better two-city laboratory for learning how to become an urbanist today.’ — Professor Michael Storper

Students will spend the first year in Los Angeles, where UCLA Luskin offers rigorous training in urban planning, development and design with a strong emphasis on social, environmental and racial justice.

Year 2 will be spent at the Paris campus of Sciences Po’s Urban School, which takes a deep comparative and critical approach to public administration and the social transformation of cities. English is the language of instruction at the Urban School, which attracts students from across the globe.

Upon completion of the program, students will receive two degrees: a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA Luskin and a Master of Governing the Large Metropolis from the Urban School.

“By creating this dual degree, we get the best of both worlds,” said Professor Michael Storper, who holds appointments at both UCLA Luskin and Sciences Po. “Paris and Los Angeles are both world cities, but they couldn’t be more different in lifestyle and layout.

“Paris is historical, dense, public-transit oriented. And yet, the cities share many of the same challenges for planners, such as economic development, infrastructure, gentrification and housing, diversity and segregation, public space and climate change,” said Storper, a French-American citizen and resident of both cities.

The double master’s program is geared toward students seeking to work internationally or to bring a global perspective to urban planning in their home countries. And the opportunity to study abroad and build a network of friends and colleagues from around the world will be particularly welcome after travel restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted.

What sets this program apart from other international exchange programs is that it grants two degrees in urban planning, accredited in the United States and Europe, in the time normally needed to earn just one.

Across the University of California system, only one other similar international partnership exists: a double executive MBA program offered by the UCLA Anderson School of Management and the National University of Singapore.

The alliance between UCLA Luskin Urban Planning and the Urban School dates back to 2016, with the launch of a quarter-long student exchange program. To build on that relationship, a team from UCLA Luskin, including Storper, Associate Dean Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris and past Urban Planning Chair Vinit Mukhija, advocated for the double master’s program, which required approval from UCLA and the UC Office of the President.

By design, the program will be small and selective. The roughly 15 students accepted into each year’s cohort will complete coursework and internships integrating theory and scholarship with real professional experiences, preparing them for work in the public, private and nonprofit sectors in any region of the world.

Applications to join the program in fall of 2021 are due on January 31. More information is available on the UCLA Luskin website. 

“This program is a natural fit of two great universities and two great cities that are complementary in their differences,” Storper said. “There could not be a better two-city laboratory for learning how to become an urbanist today.”

Race, Place of Birth Are Key Factors in Americans’ Upward Mobility Children are less likely to earn more than their parents as adults if they are Black or grow up in the South, according to a new study

By Les Dunseith

A new longitudinal study of the geography of upward mobility in the United States shows that regions with high levels of income inequality have suffered from consistently low levels of intergenerational mobility over the last century.

In an article published today by the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, co-authors Dylan Connor of Arizona State University and Michael Storper of UCLA Luskin discuss findings that include:

  • Individuals growing up in urbanized and industrialized regions — such as in the Northeast, Midwest and West — experienced higher levels of intergenerational social mobility in the early 20th century, although this advantage declined over time.
  • People born in the South experienced consistently lower levels of social mobility throughout the 20th century.
  • Regions with large Black populations that face income inequality have suffered from consistently lower levels of social mobility.
  • An individual’s early childhood environment has gained increasing importance over time as a predictor of economic upward mobility in the country. In the early 20th century, for example, proximity to a city with employment opportunities in manufacturing was of greater importance than in today’s economy. Contemporary upward mobility is more likely to depend on educational success.

The authors analyzed location and income data from the U.S. Census for more than 1 million U.S.-born fathers and sons in 1920 and 1940, respectively, to measure regional social mobility in the early 20th century. They compared those findings with contemporary social mobility patterns derived from Internal Revenue Service data for 10 million children from the 1980–1982 birth cohorts and later observed from 2011–2012. Although the newer data capture the experiences of both males and females, the historical data only apply to males.

Why did the authors need to look back 100 years?

“The article’s central concern is intergenerational social mobility — meaning the probability that the children of one generation will or will not achieve a higher socioeconomic status than their parents,” said Storper, a professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Although adult life may take place in a region different from one’s childhood, the region where a person starts life influences factors such as quality of schooling, social support structures and parental income.

“We have to know how the conditions of their childhood might have helped them be both geographically and socially mobile,” he said, “and whether geographical migrants are more socially mobile than stay-at-homes.”

Connor pointed out that understanding changes over time in intergenerational social mobility can provide a sense of how and where society needs to make improvements. Intergenerational change is a slow process, however, and the study needed to compare multiple waves of parents to their adult children at intervals that were 25 years apart.

“To get a sense of how things are changing across generations, we must take a long-term perspective,” said Connor, an assistant professor in Arizona State’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

In recent decades, the Northern Plains went from having one of the lowest rates to among the highest for intergenerational social mobility. One factor was a propensity for people born there to relocate as adults to other parts of the country for better work opportunities, often in sunnier locales such as California and other Western states.

But children born in the South had persistently lower levels of intergenerational social mobility, the study found. Among the factors is “the persistent way that race influences early childhood opportunities, probably by discouraging social consensus around investing in such things as schooling for all, and the way discrimination affects childhood and adult performance,” Storper said.

“This is what we call ‘deep roots’ — or persistent long-term structures impacting social mobility.”

Although many of the leading economic regions of the early 20th century weakened over time as springboards for intergenerational advancement, historical economic inequality within the regions with those deep roots, in contrast, exhibited a more consistent negative association. Correlating factors included high school dropout rates and income inequality.

The Black population share also showed statistical correlation, which the authors say shows the persistent impact of racial subordination, inequality and inadequate schooling on the U.S. landscape of opportunity.

“By social mobility, we are thinking about the degree of upward mobility within the American income/class structure for children who were born into poverty,” said Connor, who noted how the study relates directly to recent momentum around racial inequity and the Black Lives Matter movement. “One of the main concerns is that African American children are both more likely to be born into poverty and also face particularly high barriers to escaping poverty as adults — a point that is very strongly supported by our findings.”

A robust local labor market and access to quality schooling in early life were consistent factors in social mobility across generations and over time, according to the study. Because much of the South continues to lag other regions in terms of schooling and other social influences, major improvements in upward mobility have been slow to develop despite considerable growth in employment and economic output.

The authors also sought to identify and understand other long-term patterns across geographical regions.

“Some areas of the United States have witnessed significant declines in social mobility, while others have had persistently low levels all along. Thus, the contemporary national picture is shaped by both powerful forces of change that reduce intergenerational mobility in some regions and deeply entrenched long-term forces generating persistence in others,” they write in the journal.

Two specific cases stood out to the researchers when they compared data over time.

First, urban areas of the Midwest were comparable to the persistently high-income Northeast and West regions in the early 20th century, but intergenerational social mobility in the region was the third-lowest by century’s end, only slightly above the less urban areas of the South.

Second, the benefits of migration were higher for people leaving the Plains and Mountain regions, and the South to a lesser extent, than for their counterparts who left higher-income regions elsewhere.

“This intuitive pattern is consistent across the century and confirms the role of outmigration in providing a path to upward mobility for people growing up in lower-income places,” the authors wrote.

Introduction to Global Public Affairs @ Luskin

Come learn about Global Public Affairs @ Luskin, and our many opportunities for students to get involved!

This introductory event will provide students with an overview of Global Public Affairs @ Luskin and our different program offerings for students:

1) Certificate in Global Public Affairs – learn how by taking just 3 classes you can get a certificate in 4 different areas of Global Public Affairs.

2) Summer Fellowships – each summer GPA supports about 8-10 students to work with global organizations to gain fieldwork experience and explore international development career paths.

3) DC Spring Break Trip – GPA hosts a spring break trip to DC, with fellowships for students, to meet and network with recent Luskin Alumni working at a variety of international organizations. If travel is not possible we will organize virtual networking and professional development talks.

We will have second year students who have been involved in GPA programs share about their experience, and we will leave lots of time for questions.

RSVP here

Storper on the ‘Deeply Flawed’ Senate Bill 50

Michael Storper, distinguished professor of regional and international development in urban planning, spoke to Politifact for an article on claims supporting and opposing controversial Senate Bill 50. The bill would require cities and counties to allow higher-density housing near job and transit centers. Proponents say it would ease the state’s affordable housing crisis; opponents say it would spur gentrification and overcrowd suburban neighborhoods. Storper said SB 50 is based on a “deeply flawed” analysis of what it would take to solve the state’s housing crisis. He said there is some truth to claims that SB 50 would create more luxury housing units. Existing zoning laws in California already permit millions of potential new housing units, but developers choose to build where they know they can make a profit, he said. Under SB 50, he said, developers would be inclined to target wealthy areas and “produce housing at price points that are only accessible to higher-income people.”


 

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).