HWS Faculty Publications

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    Identifying the health benefits of city bike infrastructure expansion policy
    (Taylor and Francis Ltd., 2024) Shen, Ruowen; Williams, Patrice C.; Coutts, Christopher
    The aim of this study was to understand how policy actions implemented by city governments to improve infrastructure within the built environment can in turn influence healthy behaviors and population health. The authors investigated the associations between policy actions implemented by city governments to improve biking infrastructure and multiple health outcomes including leisure-time physical inactivity, obesity and coronary heart disease (CHD). In addition, this study tested if bike use for commuting and leisure-time physical activity were mediators between policy actions to improve biking infrastructure and health outcomes, and whether the health effects of bike infrastructure were different in cities of different population density. We merged local sustainability survey data with city-level chronic disease measures for the largest cities in the U.S. (n = 457). Results from regressions using Ordinary Least Squares estimation and mediation tests showed policies implemented to improve biking infrastructure were associated with lower prevalence of leisure-time physical inactivity, obesity and CHD. These relationships were most notable in medium-density cities (1,500-3,000/sq. mi). Moreover, leisure-time physical activity and active commuting mediated the relationship between bike infrastructure improvement policies and health outcomes. This study demonstrated the value of a policy-based intervention in enhancing population health. © 2024 Urban Affairs Association.
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    The security, structure, and market of municipal debt: Recent trends, research, and developments
    (Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., 2023-09) Hildreth, W. Bartley; Jose, Justina
    The American municipal securities market is a significant feature of subnational financing as around 50 percent of subnational governments issue debt to finance their public projects. Over the years, this market has evolved to deal with threats to the security undergirding debt instruments, disruptions to alternative debt structures, and material changes in the regulatory environment facing issuers as they seek to access the capital markets. For each of these three sections - security, structure and market - this chapter traces recent developments and related literature, and pinpoints significant research findings. These developments range from those caused as a result of the Great Recession to relatively recent events that significantly affect the market. The chapter closes with research and policy opportunities.
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    Regional Governance and Multiplex Networks in Environmental Sustainability: An Exponential Random Graph Model Analysis in the Chinese Local Government Context
    (SAGE Publications Inc., 2023-09) Shen, Ruowen
    Chinese city governments have collaborated increasingly to address regional environmental issues by participating in informal and formal collaborative networks. However, collaboration among cities involves collaboration risks. This study investigates how cities strategically select collaborative partners in informal and formal networks in the context of the Yangtze River Delta in China. This study addresses this question by assessing the nature of collaborative problems in the informal and formal networks, the extent of homophily in actors' preferences, and their relationship multiplexity. Findings from Exponential Random Graph Analysis demonstrate: (1) city governments tend to connect to the popular actor and create relationship closure in the informal network, while only forging relationship closure in the formal network; (2) homophily (in water pollution) and heterogeneity (in air pollution) jointly affect city governments' choices of collaborative partners in the formal network; and (3) the presence of relationship multiplexity wherein the formation of formal ties is built between city governments with pre-existing informal interactions. The findings advance our knowledge of collaborative partner selection and local collaborative governance in China.
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    The effect of fiscal decentralization on municipal fiscal condition: An empirical study of large American cities
    (SAGE Publications Inc., 2023-06-29) Wang, Xiaoheng; Cheng, Jen-Chi
    Local governments' ability to sustain a healthy fiscal structure and meet service obligations is critical in avoiding financial hardship. This study empirically tests the effects of intrastate fiscal decentralization on municipal fiscal health that is measured by cash solvency, budget solvency, and long-run solvency. The two key variables, revenue decentralization and expenditure decentralization, are constructed to represent intrastate fiscal decentralization. The panel dataset includes 100 large U.S. cities and covers fiscal years 2007 through 2016, which encompasses periods before, during, and after the Great Recession started in 2008. The model estimation is based on a two-way fixed-effect panel regression. The results show that an increased degree of state-local revenue decentralization is significantly associated with higher long-term solvency, while an increased degree of state-local expenditure decentralization leads to higher levels of cash solvency and lower levels of long-term solvency. Copyright The Author(s) 2023.
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    Expanding the political market framework to explain executive decision-making during the COVID-19 crisis
    (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2023-02-05) Curley, Cali; Federman, Peter Stanley; Shen, Ruowen
    The traditional political market framework (PMF) argues that elected officials respond to policy demands by adopting policy that furthers their goal of reelection. However, an emerging crisis can make this approach to decision-making challenging as the immediacy of response, the needs of the public, and technical expertise may conflict with reelection goals. This conflict can encourage elected officials to engage in blame avoidance by delegating policy-making powers to the bureaucracy. Utilizing a mixed methods approach to analyze state-level governor responses to COVID-19, this paper expands the PMF by capturing the influence of bureaucratic demands on elected official decisions to delegate or transfer power to the bureaucracy. We find evidence that bureaucratic expertise, under the right set of circumstances, influences policymaker decisions to delegate policymaking power. Lastly, we advocate for a renewed focus on democratic principles and the consequences of delegation for transparency, accountability, and social equity. In understanding the specific dynamics at play when bureaucrats and executives work to develop policy in crisis, practitioners may gain a better understanding of how to navigate difficult decisions. The specific executive orders across states are not particularly well-known, and providing evidence of the steps other states took to combat the crisis may prove useful to practitioners in the emergency management space. If practitioners have a more complete understanding of why policy is made and by what mechanisms, they may apply a focus on implementation strategies that are effective and relevant.