The simultaneous integration of global markets and decentralization of government within nation states has been a hallmark of the age of globalization.

In a 2004 article, NEIL BRENNER looks to Europe to argue that through processes of decentralization and localization, national state power has been increasingly articulated through competitive forms of urban and regional governance.

From the paper:

“As in the 1970s, the reorientation of urban governance during the 1980s was initiated in part through the bottom-up strategies of local political coalitions struggling to manage the disruptive consequences of economic restructuring by means of ad hoc, uncoordinated policy adjustments. In this period, national goals of equalizing economic development capacities across the national territory was increasingly seen to be incompatible with a new priority of promoting assets within each country’s most powerful cities and city-regions. Accordingly, in addition to their strategies to undercut traditional redistributive regional policy relays, national governments now mobilized a number of institutional restructuring initiatives in order to establish a new, competitive infrastructure for urban economic growth within their territories.

Local governments were granted new revenue-raising powers and an increased level of authority in determining local tax rates and user fees, even as national fiscal transfers to subnational levels were diminished. New responsibilities for planning, economic development, social services and spatial planning were devolved downwards to subnational (regional and local) governments. In a number of western European countries, local economic development projects were a key focal point for such devolutionary initiatives. Although these trends were most apparent in traditionally centralized states, such as France and Spain, various policies to enhance regional and local autonomy were also enacted in less centralized European states as well. Decentralization policies were seen as a means to limit the considerable welfare demands of urban areas and to encourage lower-level authorities to assume responsibility for growth policies that might reduce welfare burdens. Even in the United Kingdom, where major aspects of local governance were subjected to increasing central control under the Thatcher regime, the problem of local economic governance was among the key issues upon which the restructuring of intergovernmental relations was focused.”

Link to the text.

  • “Changing the territorial boundaries and institutional arrangements of governance for metropolitan cities is viewed as integrally related to leadership capacity and development strategy and therefore the competitiveness of the city in the world economy.” H.V. Savitch and Ronald Vogel address the limitations of urban government and policy. Link. And a 1986 paper by Joanne Fox Przeworski on contemporaneous transformations in OECD countries. Link.
  • “The roots of urban experimentation lie not only in shifts in the international governing of climate change, but also in the restructuring of the (local) state.” Harriet Bulkeley and Vanesa Castan Broto examine urban climate change governance in 100 cities. Link.
  • “The first decentralization period consolidated itself just before and at the point of independence (from the late 1940s through the early 1960s), when local authorities were being established by mutual agreement between the nationalists and the departing colonial authorities.” Richard Stren and Dickson Eyoh locate decentralization in West Africa within the context of anticolonial movements and postcolonial developments. Link.


Women and the Great Migration

In her job market paper, UMass Amherst PhD Candidate Jennifer Withrow studies the mass migration off farms and into urban centers that took place in the early decades of the twentieth century, examining in particular the differing labor market patterns driving the migration of Black and white women in the South.

From the paper:

“In 1920 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a report titled ‘The Farm Woman’s Problem’ aimed at better understanding why rural women were choosing to leave farm life and migrate to urban areas. I evaluate the farm woman’s problem in the South, focusing on the intersection of race and gender in conditioning migration likelihoods. I create a novel dataset of over 200,000 Black and white women linked from 1920 to 1930 or 1930 to 1940 to understand the economic, societal, and familial drivers of their off-farm migration. Using marriage certificates, I am able to link both women who remained single and women who married between census years. I find that Black and white women were up to 7 to 13 percentage points more likely to leave the farm than their male counterparts. My results on threats to farm family socioeconomic mobility created by the farm crisis highlight how female migrants, facing a more limited set of economic opportunities on the farm, were more responsive to the crisis than men. I also find that racial segregation in urban employment and in farming had important ramifications for who among rural women were most likely to leave, as Black women were more constrained by family responsibilities and had fewer options for urban work that rewarded education than white women.”

Link to the paper, link to Withrow’s website.

Each week we highlight great work from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Have you read any excellent research recently that you’d like to see shared here? Send it our way:

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  • “The development of globalization ran through not only the realms of ideas and finance, but also through Romania’s national computer industry.” New on Phenomenal World, Ella Coon probes the failed experiments of the 1960s supercomputer manufacturer Control Data Corporation. Link.
  • “The Wall Street Consensus in Pandemic Times.” A new paper by Yannis Dafermos, Daniela Gabor, and Jo Michell examines the flourishing of climate-focused financial development schema since the pandemic. Link.
  • Ho-fung Hung on US-China trade policy in Clinton’s first year. Link.
  • “According to the Chamley-Judd result, capital should not be taxed in the long run. In this paper, we overturn this conclusion, showing that it does not follow from the very models used to derive it.” New paper by Iván Werning and Ludwig Straub. Link.
  • Giovanni Maggi and Ralph Ossa review emerging literature on the political economy of “deep integration” trade agreements. Link.
  • Belinda Archibong and Francis Annan study the effects of negative news on vaccine compliance, looking at the disastrous effects of a 1996 Pfizer trial in Nigeria. Link.
  • “For centuries, defaulting governments were immune from legal action by foreign creditors. This paper shows that this is no longer the case. Building a dataset covering four decades, we find that creditor lawsuits have become an increasingly common feature of sovereign debt markets.” By Julian Schumacher, Christoph Trebesch, and Henrik Enderlein. Link.
  • Oddny Helgadóttir and Cornel Ban examine if and how macroeconomics has changed since the 2008 financial crisis. Link.
  • “We examine the impact of rigorous trade suppression during 1550–1567 on the sharp rise of piracy in this period of Ming China. By analyzing a uniquely constructed historical data set, we find that the enforcement of a ‘sea (trade) ban’ policy led to a rise in pirate attacks that was 1.3 times greater among the coastal prefectures more suitable for silk manufactures—our proxy for greater trade potential. Our study illuminates the conflicts in which China subsequently engaged with the Western powers, conflicts that eventually resulted in the forced abandonment of its long upheld autarkic principle.” By James Kai-sing Kung and Chicheng Ma. Link.

Each week we highlight research from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Send us recommendations:

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