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CHRISTINE WEN

Urban planning scholar + educator

RECENT HIGHLIGHTS:

> I, Liz Marcello of Hunter College, and Mildred Warner of Cornell University wrote this issue brief based on our latest research, in support of safeguarding school funding from business tax incentives. Read it here.

> I collaborated with fellow academics and investigative journalists on an in-depth report for The Conversation into the conflict when economic growth is pursued at the expense of community well-being. Read it here.

> I spoke with W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research on my recent article in its publication Economic Development Quarterly. Watch it here.

home: Welcome
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Dr. Christine Wen studies urban planning, most recently at Texas A&M University where she researched economic development and taught in the bachelor's and master's planning programs. Before entering academia, she worked for Good Jobs First in D.C. producing research in support of transparency and accountability in government processes and development schemes.

Christine received her Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University in 2019 with her interdisciplinary research, supported mainly by the C.V. Starr Fellowship, that bridges developmental sociology, critical geography, political economy, and labor studies. She was also part of an award-winning team that pushed for a more just and equitable tax system for the rural parts of upstate New York.

In her former life, she worked a year-long hydrology research project for the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Prior to that, she helped out with the cosmic microwave background radiation group at Princeton University while completing a bachelor's degree in physics there. And before that, at age 15, she received First-Class Honors with Distinctions in professional piano performance for the Associate Diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada where she lived as a teenager.

Christine now resides in eastern Texas with her dog Arthur, cats Salem and Billy, lizard Syren, and parrot Jake (now passed). She loves literature, science, philosophy, art, music, theater, and interior design, and spends her spare time writing stories, boating, bushcrafting, boxing, playing video games, swimming, cooking, studying foreign languages, hanging with friends, and finally picking up piano again after 17 years.

home: About Me

RESEARCH

CHILDREN IN OUR ECONOMY

This research examines the role of children in our social, economic, and political systems, and the responsibility of planners towards them. It identifies gaps in planning around the economics of child and educational development.

EQUITY IMPACT FORECAST IN POLICY AND BUDGET

This project will result in social cost models that can be used for scoring programs and legislations in ways that would minimize unintentional damages to poor communities and the social fabric, within and between.

INDUSTRIAL POLICY, AUSTERITY, AND GENTRIFICATION

The project puts governmental intervention in steering the placement and flow of production factors under a critical lens by examining the politics behind the location choice for manufacturing and warehousing facilities and the effects on surrounding neighborhoods, which are typically Hispanic and/or of color.

GROWTH MACHINE VS. SOCIAL EQUITY

This project aims to center children and public education in economic development planning by seeking greater accountability in government policy. A classic prisoner's dilemma scenario, the intergovernmental war over private sector investment is driving educational funding into the ground and undermining the collective utility of U.S. communities. Things need to change right now, and collective action/impact may just be the way to do it.

FISCAL POLICY AND THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT

This research looks at the effects of tax policy on planning and governance. One project resulted in an original database of disaggregated index measuring the severity of U.S. state restrictions with regard to local taxation. 

(PERSONAL) CONSCIOUSNESS AND COMMUNICATIVE/COLLABORATIVE PLANNING

This series of essays builds on the works of Habermas, Forester, et. al. as well as scholarship in psychology, computing, and organizational theory -- further dissolving egotistic barriers with the aim of improving dispute resolution, conflict negotiation, consensus-building and intergovernmental collaboration.

(PAST) SUSTAINABLE URBANIZATION

This project examines the socioeconomic integration of rural migrant families in Chinese cities with multi-level policy research, statistical analysis on housing and social security, and fieldwork on informal schooling for migrant children.

(PAST) NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

An offshoot from the hydrological research at the Earth Institute, his project compares centralized and decentralized mode of governance in regard to the outcomes for groundwater depletion.

home: Skills

REFEREED ARTICLES

Christine Wen. 2024. "Do economic development tax abatements affect school finances?" Economic Development Quarterly, 38 (1), 3-14. Click here to read.

Christine Wen and Greg LeRoy. 2023. "Making the students pay? The gross fiscal cost of tax incentives for U.S. school districts." Community Development, 54 (4), 479-495. Click here to read.

Christine Wen. 2020. "Educating rural migrant children in interior China: The promise and pitfall of low-fee private schools." International Journal of Educational Development 79. Click here to read.

Christine Wen, Yuanshuo Xu, Yunji Kim, and Mildred Warner. 2020. "Starving counties, squeezing cities: Tax and expenditure limits in the U.S." Journal of Economic Policy Reform 23 (2), 101-119. Click here to read.


Christine Wen and Jeremy Wallace. 2019. "Toward human-centered urbanization? Housing ownership and access to social insurance among migrant households in China." Sustainability 11 (13), 3567-3581. Click here to read.

REPORTS AND PAPERS

Appendix to issue brief (homepage): Link.

Christine Wen. 2023. "Corporate subsidies versus public education: How tax abatements cost New York public schools."

Christine Wen. 2022. "The revenue impact of corporate tax incentives on South Carolina public schools 2017-2021."

Christine Wen et al. 2021. "Mapping Amazon 2.0: Where the online giant locates and why."

Christine Wen et al. 2021. "Revealing the true costs of tax incentives: Eight critical improvements needed for GASB Statement No. 77."

Christine Wen et al. 2021. "Abating our future: How students pay for corporate tax breaks."

OP-EDS + COMMENTARIES

"How tax breaks siphoned millions from Missouri public schools that serve poor students." The Missouri Independent.

"School boards must speak up when money goes away." The Cincinnati Enquirer.

"NY school boards needn't be powerless against corporate tax breaks." The Post-Standard.

"Black and Brown students pay for this tax break. Texas should not extend it." The Houston Chronicle.

How economic development is killing Michigan school funding." The Detroit News.

home: Experience

ANNUAL CONFERENCES OF ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGIATE SCHOOLS OF PLANNING

2021. "Making the students pay? The impact of tax incentives on school finance." Miami, Florida.
2018. "Migrant housing ownership in urban China: Evidence from survey data." Buffalo, New York.
2015. "Restrictiveness of TEL (tax and expenditure limits) and impact on local fiscal stress." Houston, Texas.

INTERVIEWS

2024. Economic Development Quarterly author spotlight "Do economic development tax incentives affect school finances?"
2021. America's Work Force (AWF) Union Podcast on new report "Abating our future: How students pay for corporate tax breaks."
2021. In the Public Interest (ITPI) on "Corporate subsidies not only rarely work, but they're also starving public schools."
2021. Sanctuary for Independent Media, Hudson Mohawk Radio Network on how "Corporate tax breaks hurt schools."

MISCELLANEOUS

2022. "Where do Amazon.com locate its warehouses?" (accepted for Esri User Conference)
2022. "How tax incentives constrain K-12 education." Delivered virtually at the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA) Conference.
2021. "Researching the impact of tax abatements on educational inequality: A how-to guide." Delivered virtually at the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) Symposium.
2018. "Development, education, and the urban integration of rural migrants in interior China." Delivered at the International Conference of China Urban Development in Glasgow, U.K.
2017. "Engineering urbanization and growth in China's poor periphery." Delivered at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

home: Experience
home: Education

DEGREES

PH.D. IN CITY AND REGIONAL PLANNING, CORNELL UNIVERSITY (2019)

M.S. IN URBAN PLANNING, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY (2014)

A.B. IN PHYSICS, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY (2012)

MEDIA MENTIONS

QUOTED IN BLOOMBERG TAX: "NEW YORK LAWMAKERS PUSH FOR NEWLIMITS ON SCHOOL TAX BREAKS." CLICK HERE TO READ.

QUOTED IN MINNPOST: "THERE'S LITTLE EVIDENCE THAT FILM AND TV TAX CREDITS WORK. WHY MINNESOTA LAWMAKERS FUNDED A NEW ONE ANYWAY." CLICK HERE TO READ.

QUOTED IN CHALKBEAT PHILADELPHIA: "REPORT STATING PHILADELPHIA SCHOOLS LOSE $112 MILLION A YEAR TO TAX BREAKS IS INCOMPLETE, CITY SAYS" CLICK HERE TO READ.

QUOTED IN THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: "PHILLY SCHOOLS LOSE MORE MONEY TO TAX BREAKS THAN ANY DISTRICT IN THE COUNTRY, A NEW REPORT SAYS." CLICK HERE TO READ.

QUOTED IN BLOOMBERG CITYLAB: "WHAT CORPORATE TAX BREAKS MEAN FOR SCHOOL FUNDING." CLICK HERE TO READ.

LEAD-AUTHOR REPORT FEATURED IN "COSTLY CORPORATE TAX BREAKS ARE TAKING AWAY MONEY TO IMPROVE SOUTH CAROLINA'S SCHOOLS" BY KENDALL DEAS IN THE STATE. CLICK HERE TO READ.

LEAD-AUTHOR REPORT FEATURED IN "TRACKING THE ELUSIVE TAX DODGE" BY PAUL BOWERS IN BRUTAL SOUTH. CLICK HERE TO READ.

LEAD-AUTHOR STORYMAP FEATURED IN "WHY ARE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS PAYING AMAZON TO DESTROY MAIN STREET IN FORTUNE. CLICK HERE TO READ.

PAST RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

FELLOW, TAMU CENTER FOR HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

FELLOW, TAMU HAZARD REDUCTION AND RECOVERY CENTER

GOOD JOBS FIRST (ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, TAX POLICY)

CORNELL UNIVERSITY EAST ASIA PROGRAM (ENVIRONMENT, URBANIZATION)

CORNELL UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF INDUSTRIAL AND LABOR RELATIONS (URBANIZATION, MIGRATION)

CORNELL UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE (PUBLIC FINANCE)

THE EARTH INSTITUTE AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY (WATER, SUSTAINABILITY)

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY URBAN PLANNING (POVERTY REDUCTION, NEIGHBORHOOD CHANGE)

TECHNICAL SKILLS

ARCGIS, STATA, MATLAB, ATLAS.TI, IMPLAN, R, JAVA, C, C++

LANGUAGES

NATIVE CHINESE MANDARIN

ADVANCED COLLEGE RUSSIAN

CANADIAN GRADE 12 FRENCH

BASIC POLISH

CONTACT

Greetings! Thanks for visiting my website. Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter or via the form.  

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