How Will U.S. and Chinese Cities Respond to the Fiscal Crisis of 2020? Lessons from the Great Recession

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Austin M. Aldag (M.R.P. '18) is currently a Ph.D. student within the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. His research agenda focuses broadly on local governance, the delivery of public services, federalism, and inter-governmental relations, all within the United States. Aldag has published in various academic journals, including, but not limited to, The Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory; Public Administration Review; Public Management Review; and Publius: The Journal of Federalism.

Yuanshuo Xu (M.R.P. '13, Ph.D. '19) is an assistant professor at Zhejiang University, China, where he studies economic development, state decentralization, and specializes in spatial analysis of the U.S. and China. His work has been published in academic publications like The Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, and Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy, and Society. He served as a post-doctoral associate within City and Regional Planning, where he obtained both his M.R.P. and Ph.D. He has a B.S. from the China University of Mining and Technology.

Mark Davidson is an associate professor in the Graduate School of Geography, Clark University. His current research investigates trends in municipal governance, and he has an international reputation for his research on gentrification and critical urban theory. He holds a B.A. (Hons) and Ph.D. in Geography from King's College London.


Local government fiscal stress can be understood through various lenses. A popular, but misconceived lens in the US and western Europe is austerity urbanism, when the data shows pragmatic municipal responses. A popular lens in China is the growth machine, when asymmetric state rescaling is more accurate. Aldag and Xu will present a set of papers, conducted as part of Professor Warner's Local Government Restructuring Lab. These papers use broad national data and sophisticated modeling techniques to look at the diversity of responses across the U.S. and China and the role of higher levels of government in a multi-scalar governance system. Understanding divergent paths are important as planners attempt to put local government responses to fiscal stress in context. Implications for the coming COVID-19 recession will be discussed.

If you would like to attend this lecture, please email the department ( to receive Zoom information.

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