Students’ Visits to Mexico Produce Real World Insights Urban Planning fieldwork course taught by UCLA Luskin's Paavo Monkkonen completes its study of housing crisis in Tijuana

By George Foulsham

UCLA scholar Paavo Monkkonen teaches classes covering housing policy, applied microeconomics, and global urban segregation, but much of his research focuses on Mexico. He has been working in Mexico – and in Tijuana – since 2003 and has served as a consultant to the Mexican government on housing policy issues.

So when Monkkonen, an associate professor of Urban Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, speaks about housing problems in Tijuana, people should probably pay attention.

“In the last 20 years, Mexico has built a lot of suburban housing and a lot of it’s empty,” Monkkonen said. “There is a major housing crisis right now.”

It’s also a teachable moment for this college professor, who created a course that took his students to Tijuana to examine the housing that federal policies have financed. The course provided the opportunity to offer real-world urban planning lessons to UCLA Luskin students.

“I had the idea of doing a case study of Tijuana’s housing system and how federal policy is played out in a local context,” Monkkonen said. “The course is different from many, though, because it’s a studio course that is a practice-based, problem-solving type of course. It’s not about me teaching; rather, I am working with students to actually do research and provide policy recommendations.”

The goal of the class, “Special Topics in Regional and International Development: Increasing Infill Development in Tijuana, Mexico,” was to determine how the institutions of Tijuana’s property market shape the implementation of the new federal urban policy designed to limit expansion and increase density in the central parts of Mexico’s cities.

With financial assistance from UCLA’s Urban Humanities Initiative and the Latin American Institute, Monkkonen put together the 2016 studio course in which students made two trips to Tijuana during the spring quarter.

“They were in five different groups, working on different aspects of the housing production system — infrastructure, planning, real estate development, the social culture around the consumption of housing, and formality,” Monkkonen said.

The students’ first visit to Tijuana included meetings with:

  • A representative of the government housing finance agency
  • A real estate broker who does consulting work for the government
  • A representative from a regional economic development consulting company, focused on industrial development
  • Local academics and graduate students

The students also did two site visits, including a tour of a new middle-class apartment building and of a new social-interest housing development.

“The focus of the class is the new federal policies that are trying to curtail sprawl and promote urban compact density,” Monkkonen said. “These policies were enacted in part because 30 percent of the new houses are empty. Despite the new message from the federal government to build more compact cities, they’re actually still building a lot of sprawl.”

The site visited by the students was a perfect example of the housing explosion in Tijuana. In an area that is miles from the edge of Tijuana, a developer is building about 50 houses per week, next to several developments full of abandoned houses.

“They have 5,000 built and the master plan of that company is to build 50,000 homes,” Monkkonen said. “The federal housing agency supports it, so it’s a strange system of bad decisions and government gone wild.”

Construction of new homes in Tijuana — and all over Mexico for that matter — is built on a system that encourages rampant development, Monkkonen said.

“Developers can make a lot of money building small, inexpensive houses in the urban periphery,” he said. “The vast majority — 70 percent — of housing finance comes from a federal government agency that operates like a pension fund, although the pension payout is very low. So every salaried worker has to pay into it, like a social security contribution, and then they are heavily pressured to get a mortgage. In many cases people use this mortgage even if they don’t want a house.”

The students also drove past two failed housing projects on the way back from Natura into Tijuana, developments of about 3,000 homes. “Some sections are half-built,” Monkkonen said. “There’s empty land, parts that are half-empty, covered in graffiti — not a nice environment, with a lot of trash around.”

It didn’t take long for the students to recognize the issues that led to two decades of overbuilding.

“The issue with Tijuana is that the institutions don’t really talk to each other,” said Katie Cettie, one of the students who authored the Real Estate Practice and Finance section of the report. “What the federal and the state do is very different from what actually happens at the city level. Everyone has their own agenda, so it’s really hard to get them to come together.”

Among the findings and recommendations in the recently released 131-page final report:

  • Local land use planning and development institutions are disconnected from federal housing policies.
  • Federal housing policies are designed more for the stimulation of the economy from the national perspective.
  • The flow of communication from local to federal and federal to local is unclear among agency employees, and the framework for this process is not well understood by officials or the public. The roles of federal, state and municipal agencies are largely distinct and lack effective coordination.
  • In Tijuana, the private sector has historically driven growth and economic development. Today, these actors continue to be overrepresented in the planning process.
  • The importance of political linkages and alliances at the local level continue to stifle the ability for sustainable urban development in Tijuana.

How to Build an Affordable Home: Start With the Framework UCLA urban planner provides recommendations for easing existing barriers to affordable housing, one of California’s most pressing issues

By Stan Paul

For UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs scholar Paavo Monkkonen, making housing affordable in California starts with a vital building block: the state’s Housing Element framework requiring cities to meet existing and projected local and regional housing needs.

“This system performs an almost symbolic function at present,” said the associate professor of Urban Planning who also earned his Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree from Luskin in 2005. “Cities that do not meet their housing targets face no consequences, and cities that do meet them reap no reward.” Monkkonen delivered a lecture and white paper on the topic Dec. 1 at the UC Center in Sacramento.

Two other areas of focus on this pressing problem for the state are expanding public participation in the planning process and shifting some decision-making from local to state and regional levels, according to Monkkonen. His lecture, “Understanding and Challenging Opposition to Housing Construction in California’s Urban Areas,” was moderated by Ben Metcalf, director of the California Department of Housing & Community Development.

“The current planning environment is stacked in favor of better-off individuals and single-family neighborhoods at the expense of renters and multi-family housing,” Monkkonen wrote in an opinion piece published in the Sacramento Bee the same day as the lecture. On the neighborhood level, opposition has continually hindered housing needs. “When interests with time and money block or downsize projects in wealthy neighborhoods, it pushes new development into dense parts of cities and increases rents throughout the area.”

In urging that the state takes steps to “democratize” the planning process, Monkkonen explained that planners need to have input from a more representative group of citizens such as families, low-income renters and young people — groups that may not have ready access to public hearings and planning meetings.

In his white paper, Monkkonen included a section on understanding opposition to housing construction and density. The list shows how opposition focuses on three formal systems — planning, legal and political — as well as informal influences and tactics to “shape what can and cannot get built in California’s cities.”

Monkkonen outlined a number of ways opponents to new housing impede construction through the planning process. These include commenting in public meetings, letter writing, social media, petitions, appeals or filing historic designations for properties or districts.

Legally, projects may face lawsuits to invalidate a permit or policy or be challenged through the California Environmental Quality Act.

Politically, ballot initiatives can be used to place a moratorium on development, and efforts to recall council members may be initiated. Opponents can also lobby for state laws affecting specific city rules, Monkkonen observed.

In his presentation Monkkonen:

  • Outlined policy recommendations for land-use reforms concerning housing directed by the state.
  • Described how limiting the supply of new housing creates less-affordable housing.
  • And pointed out how the issue of housing supply is generally misunderstood.

Monkkonen emphasizes this in the abstract to his white paper: “The debate continues despite robust empirical evidence demonstrating that supply constraints — low density chief among them — are a core cause of increasing housing costs.”

Among his recommendations to the state on how to push back against local constraints on new housing is one favoring “by-right” approval of projects. Projects that comply with current zoning laws may bypass regular approval processes where these processes are a “persistent hindrance to regional housing needs.” Monkkonen cited California’s density bonus law — an example of by-right approval — wherein developers may be incentivized to include affordable units in exchange for an increase in density.

Monkkonen believes that his work may prompt state government action and provide a guide to addressing the affordable housing issue in California.

“I was excited to be able to present this work in conversation with Ben Metcalf,” said Monkkonen, adding that the state’s director of housing and community development was very receptive to his policy recommendations. “He said his department is releasing a state housing plan next week that actually mirrors a lot of my analysis.”

Monkkonen’s white paper is available online.

For more information on California’s Housing Element Law, please visit the California Department of Housing and Community Development web page.

Lending Obama Administration a Hand on Housing Study by UCLA Luskin Urban Planning scholars is cited in new White House Housing Development Toolkit

By Stan Paul

A recent study by UCLA Luskin Urban Planning faculty researchers is part of a new toolkit on housing development announced and published this week by the Obama administration.

The Housing Development Toolkit, now available online, outlines barriers to housing development but also includes a list of actions that state and local governments can use to “promote healthy, responsive, high-opportunity housing markets, despite the common and sometimes challenging political barriers to reform and improvement.”

The 2015 Luskin study, “Do Strict Land Use Regulations Make Metropolitan Areas More Segregated by Income?” — previously published in the Journal of the American Planning Association — is referenced in the toolkit addressing local barriers to housing development that affect affordability for working families. Authors Michael Lens, assistant professor of Urban Planning, and Paavo Monkkonen, associate professor of Urban Planning, urge that density restrictions be removed because they drive urban segregation.

“Inclusion in this publication demonstrates both the timeliness and relevance of the work our Luskin researchers do,” said Lois Takahashi, interim dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

In their study, Lens and Monkkonen find that inherent local planning problems can be alleviated somewhat by regional and state efforts.

“State governments are well-positioned to push cities to build more housing — especially cities that try to exclude types of housing affordable to lower-income households,” Monkkonen said.

In addition, Lens and Monkkonen point out that “efforts to force wealthier parts of the city to build housing for low-income households, i.e., inclusionary housing, have a greater potential to reduce segregation than bringing higher-income households into lower-income parts of the city.”

“I think this is a remarkably informed document, and it is great to see that the Obama administration is thinking this way and is motivated to put this information out there,” Lens said. “It is complementary to HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rules and work, and recent case law (Inclusive Communities v. Texas Department of Housing and Community Development) might nudge localities toward relaxing regulations and allowing more multifamily development.”

The White House publication cites restrictive zoning and land-use regulations — as well as a cumbersome approval process — as the causes for a slow response to demand for housing across the United States. It also highlights beneficial practices already in use across the country as well as potential starting points for bringing housing planning and development in line with 21st century needs.

Although encouraged by the report, Lens said that the Obama administration also has very little power, if any, over local land-use decision-making. He cautioned that “there are a lot of great ideas in here that for the most part” could be ignored by local governments.

However, “there is a growing movement in California advocating for changes in the way urban growth is accommodated with existing city boundaries,” Monkkonen said. “I hope that the endorsement of the White House in this regard will push these efforts forward.”

The Housing Development Toolkit may be found at:

Perpetuating Cycles of Exclusion New study by UCLA Luskin professors Paavo Monkkonen and Michael Lens examines how zoning laws in the 100 largest U.S. metro areas reinforce socioeconomic divides

By Adrian Bijan White

A new study by researchers at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs shines a light on how zoning law changes in the largest U.S. metropolitan areas are increasing inequality and raising concerns about social mobility.

One of the most influential factors in shaping metropolitan areas, according to the study, is the government’s use of land regulations and zoning laws, which determine building densities and land uses. “The playing field,” according to the researchers, “is far from equal.”

It is well known that zoning laws and land regulation contribute to racial and economic segregation through “exclusionary zoning” policies, but the new study by Michael Lens and Paavo Monkkonen MPP ’05, assistant professors in Urban Planning, examines these processes in depth. Their research revealed four patterns in zoning restrictions.

Zoning policies in metropolitan areas isolate wealth

“We found that more stringent regulatory processes are related to the segregation of the affluent,” Lens said. “What we see is their ability to self segregate and to pass laws and regulations toward that end.” Lens added that policies allow for the concentration of wealth, rather than the concentration of poverty, within cities. The self-segregating ability of the wealthy derives from socioeconomic status and influence, which manifests itself in exclusionary zoning policy. Some classes, as a result, are excluded from certain neighborhoods and congregate in less desirable neighborhoods. Restrictions such as single-family zoning as opposed to higher density apartment complexes, raise housing prices and perpetuate cycles of exclusion.

Zoning laws across the entire metropolitan area are relevant

Within metropolitan areas, individual cities retain high levels of autonomy in terms of their zoning policies. As a result, cities often tailor their restrictions to appeal to higher-income residents. “If we had land use regulation at a regional scale, we could reduce the tendency of smaller, wealthy cities trying to zone for a certain kind of resident,” Monkkonen said. “However, this would require a change which would greatly reduce the city’s individual power.

“If you have a strict enough regulatory regime, you can’t build enough units in city neighborhoods which are experiencing accelerated changes in demographics,” Monkkonen added. “In terms of gentrification, you have an influx of higher income residents, which raises the value of said neighborhood. In terms of building development, if you can build enough units to keep up with rising demand, then lower-income households could stick around, which would result in an integrating process and not an exclusionary one.”

Bureaucratic construction processes and density restrictive policies hinder the development of surrounding cities in metropolitan areas and stagnate the supply of housing, making housing prices highly sensitive to shifting socioeconomic trends.

Localized zoning policies contribute to the segregation of neighborhoods

“Maximum density restrictions (single-family zoning) are the way in which cities restrict multi-family housing. People often assume that places with lower density rules have less poor people, which we can confirm.” Monkkonen asserts that local processes of density restriction contribute to the concentration of wealth. “If we can speed up housing construction processes and adapt zoning regulations to allow for the densification of neighborhoods, we could stabilize housing prices and render neighborhoods more inclusionary.”

Local policies within cities indirectly promote the exclusion of lower-income populations by restricting multi-family housing, according to the researchers. By maintaining lower levels of population density, the forces of supply and demand raise housing prices. Furthermore, different policies play out in different ways in terms of their effects on segregation. Areas that demonstrate very bureaucratic construction processes are highly segregated because of the inability to provide new housing. Segregation is also correlated with stronger local government restrictions, which often restrict population growth. On the other hand, segregation is not strongly associated with open-space requirements, supply restrictions or delayed approvals.

Centralized policies can mitigate segregation across metropolitan areas

There is some variation across states in the extent of local control over land use. “When you see checks on city regulations in metropolitan areas by the state, we witness lower levels of income segregation,” Lens said.

Centralized zoning policies reduce the effects of local government policies, which contribute to the segregation of neighborhoods, according to the study. By reducing the autonomy of individual cities, metropolitan areas as a whole can work towards higher levels of density, inclusionary housing policies and integration. “The government has regulatory tools to promote integration between middle- and lower-class communities; however, wealthy communities retain their ability to self segregate. Our research shows that local government regulations help them do so,” Lens said.

The political and economic influence of wealthy residents renders certain neighborhoods partially immune to the effects of inclusionary zoning regulations; however, authorities can target the integration of lower- and middle-class neighborhoods. “When you see checks on city regulations in metropolitan areas by the state, we witness lower levels of income segregation,” Monkkonen said. By dismantling bureaucratic construction processes and restrictions on density levels, which is often witnessed by state level regulations, cities can work toward stabilizing housing prices and integrating communities.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Planning Association (JAPA). It can be found at

Cooperation May be the Key to Survival for Airbnb in the Sharing Economy UCLA professors project the future of Airbnb based off lessons from past startups.


The short-term home rental company Airbnb seemed to have come out the clear blue sky, but this “disruptor” in the rental business may disappear just as fast into thin air unless it is perceived as a cooperator and “partner,” according to an opinion piece by Paavo Monkkonen, assistant professor of Urban Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and research fellow at the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate.

Using as an example one of the original peer-to-peer disrupters of the music industry — Napster — Monkkonen and co-author and UCLA Urban Planning alum Nathan S. Holmes explain that Napster failed where iTunes, led by Apple’s Steve Jobs, found success because of a cooperative business model that worked with the music industry.

Monkkonen and Holmes, point out that the multibillion dollar (and growing) company based in San Francisco already is threatened by resistance and hostility from local governments, which the authors say has the potential to turn Airbnb into “the Napster of the short-term rental market.”

Monkkonen Examines Airbnb’s Impact on Housing Prices In a study commissioned by Airbnb, Urban Planning professor Paavo Monkkonen documents a limited impact on home values in L.A.

Urban Planning professor Paavo Monkkonen is attracting attention in the media for his work on a new report commissioned by the home-sharing service Airbnb.

In interviews with the LA Times and with “AirTalk” on KPCC-FM, Monkkonen has spoken about his analysis of an Airbnb study that documents the scale of the company’s impact on housing prices in Southern California. The study finds that short-term rentals occurring through peer-to-peer sharing on Airbnb make up a small portion of the region’s housing inventory.

Airbnb conducted this study in response to report written by Roy Samaan MA UP ’11 for LAANE. Monkkonen argues that the focus on the housing supply impacts of Airbnb distracts us from the more important causes of the housing affordability crisis in the city.

When asked about the recent coverage of the topic, Monkkonen mentioned his pleasure at engaging with an alumnus from the school on this topic. “The discussion that LAANE and other groups initiated about Airbnb is important to have at this moment given that the City of LA is crafting an ordinance to regulate short-term rentals.”


Repeating History But Innovating: Social Housing and Urban Policy in Latin America Blog post from Professor Paavo Monkkonen via Global Public Affairs @ Luskin


By Paavo Monkkonen, Faculty Cluster Leader of Global Urbanization and Regional Development; Professor of Urban Planning

Although the major urbanization boom in Latin America occurred many decades ago, cities across the continent continue to grow rapidly and problems associated with adequate, affordable, and well-located housing are widespread. Housing policies designed to provide new, subsidized housing to low-income households still dominate (though the state no longer builds housing, providing assistance through the housing finance system instead), in spite of agreement among most experts that they are not the best way to ameliorate urban housing problems.

Unlike the inner-city public housing projects of the United States, public housing projects in Latin America are generally composed of small single-family homes located in far-flung outskirts of cities. They therefore suffer not only from problems associated with concentrated poverty, but more importantly a lack of urban amenities, poor public services, and a large distance from employment opportunities. Brazil’s most infamous peri-urban public housing development Cidade de Deus, portrayed in a film of the same name, was built in 1964 yet the new housing policy Minha Casa, Minha Vida is criticized for many of the same problems. Mexico has the largest finance driven social housing program in Latin America, and as a recent OECD report documents, faces major problems in new housing developments that lack public services, access to jobs, and as a result, among the highest vacancy rates in the world. In fact, scholars are framing the Mexican housing policy as a social interest housing planning disasterSocial housing programs in Chile and in Colombia face surprisingly similar criticism.

The philosopher George Santayana famously stated, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Kurt Vonnegut’s more prescient and useful retort is that “we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what.” Thus, perhaps the challenge to policymakers (and scholars) is simply to make sure our iterations of past approaches are innovative in some aspects. And there are innovations. Two notable areas are first, the application of inclusionary housing ideas in the design of public housing programs, and second, policies to promote densification of more accessible parts of cities with services.

Chile is the farthest along in taking seriously the idea of inclusionary zoning/housing – regulations that promote the integration of market-priced properties and subsidized properties in the same multi-unit buildings or within neighborhoods – in public dialogue and action. A notable example is the Project of La Chimba in the city of Antofagasta in northern Chile built from 2003 to 2005. In spite of shifting to demand-side housing subsidies in the 1990s, low-income homebuyers continued to be pushed into certain types of new housing developments that shared the same problems as those previously built by the public sector, including social segregation. To address this problem, a project was developed in Antofagasta that purposely had a range of housing types in the same neighborhood, including some market rate and some affordable to voucher holders. A case study of this project by Hector Vasquez Gaete will be available shortly from Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

New policies to promote housing construction in central cities are also being implemented in Latin America, with the goal of adding housing where there are already services, amenities, and access to employment. For example, property tax rates on vacant land in Brazil are on average five times higher than on land that has been developed. More aggressively, Bogota (which also has higher tax rates for vacant land) implemented a policy that forces the sale of vacant land that is not developed within two years of being identified. Land is then developed for social housing.

In order to make progress in the design of housing policies so that they do not repeat past mistakes and improve the lives of those living in Latin American cities, comparative research on what works, what does not, and why, is necessary. Fortunately, this type of investigation is ongoing and several notable examples have been recently completed; for example an overview book from the Inter-American Development Bank, a paper by Eduardo Rojas, and an edited volume on the inner-suburban neighborhoods of Latin American cities by Peter Ward, Edith R. Jimenez Huerta, and Mercedes Di Virgilio.

Original post at

Planning Professor’s Research Cited in Mexico Housing & Urban Policy Report


Since 2012, Mexico has been working on an ambitious structural reform agenda across various sectors to boost the country’s competitiveness and economic growth. Housing and urban policy is considered a priority within this reform agenda as authorities are hoping to reduce a housing deficit that affects roughly 31% of Mexican households.

This attention to housing and urban policy, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) recent urban policy review on Mexico, is unprecedented for the country, and differs from past approaches to housing and urban policy in that it is focusing more on qualitative housing and the environment as opposed to quantitative goals. Over 200 Mexican political figures, policy makers and academics attended the launch of the report. Speakers included INFONAVIT Director General, Alejandro Murat; Governor of the State of Mexico, Eruviel Ávila Villegas; and Mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Mancera. They were accompanied by the Minister of Public Administration, Julián Alfonso Olivas Ugalde, and Mexican Ambassador to the OECD, Dionisio Pérez-Jácome Friscione.

Urban Planning Professor Paavo Monkkonen has conducted extensive research on housing vacancy in Mexico, including two projects in collaboration with OECD and the World Bank. His work was cited heavily in OECD’s urban policy review, which generated over 30 articles in the Mexican press. The policy review discusses the role of large housing lenders in housing policy for Mexico, priorities that will make the country create more competitive and sustainable cities, and various reforms to urban governance that will improve housing and development outcomes. The issue of vacant housing received particular attention in the media.

Last year, Professor Monkkonen delivered a presentation at the Institute of Social Research of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City on the topic of housing finance in urban policy, which also received a lot of attention by Mexican media outlets. Monkkonen argued that the Mexican government’s support of urban infill and higher density development would only be achieved with larger and more comprehensive reforms of the Mexican housing finance system than those currently proposed.




UP’s Monkkonen Challenges Media View of Mexican Housing Crisis The Urban Planning professor recently presented new research in Mexico City talk.


In the wake of the recent US housing market crash, images of abandoned homes on the urban periphery of American cities dominated international media coverage, and when Mexico experienced its own vacant housing crisis in 2013, media outlets such as the New York Times, the Economist, and the Wall Street Journal covered the story through this same narrative lens of half-empty developments and residents stranded in sprawl.

Yet while these pictures and stories make for compelling journalism, according to research by urban planning professor Paavo Monkkonen they capture only one aspect of the Mexican housing crisis, and more crucially, they serve to distract focus away from the most urgent problems confronting housing in Mexico, such as reforming the housing finance system and addressing vacancy in urban cores.

Monkkonen discussed his research and ideas in a recent presentation at the Institute of Social Research of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City on September 8. The talk, entitled “Housing Finance is Urban Policy: INFONAVIT, Vacant Housing, and Urban Growth” in Mexico, was based on two ongoing research projects Monkkonen is conducting in collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank. Both projects are motivated by the housing vacancy crisis in Mexico caused by a finance system that hinders both the construction of new homes and the improvement of existing units in city centers.

As part of a series called the Ciclo La coyuntura nacional a debate, Monkkonen presented a vision of how the Mexican government could shift its approach to housing finance. He submitted four general areas for reforming urban policy in Mexico, including reforming the housing loan allocation system, increasing investment in the institutional infrastructure of the primary housing market (for example, property registries and cadastres), raising property taxes and placing more effort into collecting them, and encouraging urban density by promoting public transportation, eliminating parking requirements for new buildings and increasing the cost of operating private automobiles.

Monkkonen’s talk and research was picked up by several Mexican blogs and media outlets, such as Entrelineas and Impulso Informativo (in Spanish). Coverage in English can be found at the Mexico Daily Review.

Dr. Monkkonen first examined Mexican housing in his doctoral dissertation. According to Monkkonen, the Mexican housing vacancy crisis stems in part from housing finance policies that began in the 1990s, and the first of his current research projects focuses on vacant housing through analysis of rates of vacancy in the center and periphery of the 100 largest cities in Mexico, as well as their determinants. Findings show that although the high rates of peri-urban vacancy are a problem, there are a greater number of vacant units in the centers of Mexican cities. Additionally, there is a strong association between central city vacancy and housing finance, suggesting that the country’s housing policies have facilitated a suburbanization of urban populations.

Monkkonen’s second project focuses on urban growth patterns in Mexico and changes in the distribution of people and jobs within cities. Preliminary results reinforce the findings of the vacancy study, showing a loss of population in the center of 70 of the 100 largest cities in Mexico, concurrent with robust urban expansion.

Both of these research projects reinforce the Mexican government’s current shift towards the support of urban infill and higher density development. However, Monkkonen argues that the goal of urban infill will only be achieved with larger and more comprehensive reforms of the Mexican housing finance system than those currently proposed.

Luskin Assistant Professors Awarded UCLA Hellman Fellowship

Urban Planning assistant professor Paavo Monkkonen and Public Policy assistant professor Randall Akee have been named 2014-15 Hellman Fellows for demonstrating a capacity for great distinction in their research. There are eleven recipients of the award in total.

The UCLA Hellman Fellows Program established in 2011 was created to help junior faculty pursue their research passions. The grant will act as seed money for assistant professors to fund their research and other creative activities that promote and enhance their career advancement.

Monkkonen, who teaches courses at UCLA Luskin in housing markets and policy and global urban segregation, was chosen as a fellow for his project “The Half-life of Childhood: How Economic Development Shapes Young Adults’ Household Position.” The half-life of childhood refers to the age at which half of the population is no longer a child. The goal of his project is to better understand how economic development affects household structure, especially the age at which children leave their parents’ home and form a new household. Monkkonen notes that household formation has a major impact on housing markets, and this information will be important to future projections of the number of households which influences housing policy.

“I am honored to have been selected as a Hellman Scholar,”he said. “The generous research grant will enable me to hire graduate student researchers to assist me with data manipulation and analysis, which for this project is very time-consuming. The study uses individual census records from over 70 countries in multiple time periods, which translates into hundreds of millions of observations! I have been trying to get this project going for a number of years but have not had the resources, so it is very exciting that I can get this research underway.”

Akee was awarded the fellowship for his project “How Do Changes in Unearned Income Affect American Indian Infant and Children? The Case of American Indian Casino Revenue Transfers.” The purpose of his research is to determine how the advent of casino operations and other large changes in household income of American Indians affects American Indian infants and children. According to Akee, preliminary data has shown that increased incomes have led to a reduction in behavioral disorders and substance abuse for American Indian adolescents. However, there has been no determination into what degree revenue changes have affected infants and younger children. Akee’s study will look at the effects of increases in unearned income on AI maternal behavior as well as educational outcomes for infants and children.

“I’m very excited and grateful for the award. It allows me to hire an MPP student over the course of the summer at full-time in order to work on the data,” Akee said. “It allows the research to get completed at a much quicker pace than I would otherwise be able to do it. Also, it trains one of our MPP students in data analysis. I’m very eager to see the research outputs that will come as a result of this fellowship.”