Beyond place-based: Reducing regional inequality with place-conscious policies

When: June 30, 2021 2:00PM - 3:30PM

Over the past four decades, geographic inequality between regions of the United States has grown dramatically. A handful of metropolitan areas, largely along the coasts, have become some of the richest economic regions in world history, while elsewhere, large swaths of the country have been trapped in economic decline. These regional disparities—both a driver and a consequence of racial inequality—harm national growth and are exacerbated by our current system of fiscal federalism.

Yet while regional economic divergence appears to be the result of many different local trends, it is fundamentally a national process driven in large part by national economic trends and federal policies. As recent research shows, much of the increase in interregional inequality since the 1970s is attributable to federal policy changes that seem geographically neutral at first glance, but which interacted with existing spatial patterns in the economy in ways that systematically helped some places while disadvantaging others.

This virtual event will dive into the research on how national actions have driven regional inequalities and what this means for policy solutions. It will feature Equitable Growth grantee Robert Manduca, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Michigan, whose work shows how addressing interregional inequality will be most effectively accomplished at the federal level through “place-conscious policies.” It will also include a panel of researchers and policy experts exploring how a suite of policy solutions, from universal anti-poverty programs to state and local finance reform, can reduce interregional inequality, without explicitly targeting struggling regions for subsidies or investment.


Additional information about speakers will be added closer to the event.

About Robert Manduca

Robert Manduca is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Michigan. His research explores the drivers of interregional inequality in the United States, asking why some cities and regions are more economically prosperous than others and how local economic conditions impact residents’ lives. Another line of his work examines the consequences of rising income inequality for intergenerational mobility and other social outcomes. Manduca received his Ph.D. in sociology and social policy from Harvard University and his M.C.P. in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

About Bradley Hardy

Bradley Hardy is an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University and nonresident senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. His research interests lie within labor economics, with an emphasis on economic instability, intergenerational mobility, poverty policy, and socioeconomic outcomes. His recent work examines trends and sources of income volatility, intergenerational mobility, and neighborhood economic development within the United States, with a focus on socioeconomically disadvantaged families. He also conducts research on the role of anti-poverty transfer programs such as the Supplemental NutritionAssistance Program and the Earned Income Tax Credit for improving economic well-being among low-income individuals and families. Hardy holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Kentucky, a master’s of public policy from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in economics from Morehouse College.

About Boosting Wages for U.S. Workers in the New Economy

This event draws from Manduca’s essay, “Place-conscious federal policies to reduce regional economic disparities in the United States,” which appeared in Equitable Growth’s book, Boosting Wages for U.S. Workers in the New Economy. The book features 10 essays by leading scholars on policies to raise wages by addressing underlying structures and dynamics in our economy. The essays—developed in partnership with the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley and with funding from the Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust—guide policymakers on how to deliver broadly shared economic prosperity by making wages a key outcome to structural economic policy at the federal and state levels.


Please direct questions related to event content to Labor Market Policy Analyst Kathryn Zickuhr

Please direct questions related to event logistics and technology to Events and Conferences Manager Natalie Intondi.


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