Densely Speaking (podcast)

Densely Speaking: Conversations About Cities, Economics & Law is an interview-based scholarship podcast hosted by me and Jeffrey Lin, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. You can find us on your local podcast app (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, etc.) and follow along on Twitter at @denselyspeaking.

The meat of the show is interviews with guests about their recent work. We also have a short segment at the end called “Appendices,” where hosts and guests briefly flag other work they find interesting. Links to episodes appear below. Our producer is Schuyler Pals.

The views expressed on the show are those of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, the Federal Reserve System, or any of the other institutions with which the hosts or guests are affiliated.



Professor Leah Brooks, economist and Associate Professor of Public Policy and Public Affairs at the George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Affairs, joins the show to discuss Infrastructure Costs, her working paper (joint with Prof. Zachary Liscow, Yale Law School).

Jenny Schuetz, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, joins as a guest co-host.


Leah Brooks: Riots Long Ago, Luxury Living Today (Emily Badger, NYT)

Jenny SchuetzI’ve Seen a Future Without Cars, and It’s Amazing (Farhad Manjoo & visualization collaborators, NYT)

Jeff LinVestiges of Transit: Urban Persistence at a Microscale (Leah Brooks & Byron Lutz, Review of Economics and Statistics)

Greg ShillDiscourses of Climate Delay (William Lamb et al, Global Sustainability) (thanks to Giulio Mattioli for sharing on Twitter)


Professor Conrad Ciccotello, director of and professor at the Reiman School of Finance in the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, joins the show to discuss his working paper, Gender and Geography in the Boardroom: What Really Matters for Board Decisions? (joint with Profs. Zinat Alam, Mark Chen, and Harley Ryan).

Note: the interview and Appendices comprise the first 50 minutes. For this episode, we also have a bonus Appendix—-the final 10 minutes is a conversation between Conrad and Greg about the switch to virtual work by boards of directors and how it interacts with Conrad’s experience on boards of directors and his research on geography and corporate governance.


Conrad Ciccotello: Gender, Geography and the Boardroom (in The Corporate Board, Sept.-Oct. 2017), by Profs. Zinat Alam, Mark Chen, Conrad Ciccotello, and Harley Ryan

Greg ShillHow Close Is Close? The Spatial Reach of Agglomeration Economies, by Profs. Stuart Rosenthal & William Strange, Journal of Economic Perspectives Summer 2020

Jeff LinThe Internal Geography of Firms, by Profs. Dominick Bartelme & Oren Ziv, working paper

Episode 4: Allison Shertzer, “Racial Segregation in the Housing Market and the Erosion of Black Wealth”

Professor Allison Shertzer, Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Pittsburgh, joins the show to discuss her working paper, Racial Segregation in Housing Markets and the Erosion of Black Wealth (joint with Profs. Prottoy A. Akbar, Sijie Li, and Randall P. Walsh).

Professor Devin Michelle Bunten, the Edward H. and Joyce Linde Assistant Professor of Urban Economics and Housing at MIT, joins the show as guest co-host.


Allison Shertzer: covid-related shutdowns of camps and schools prompted new uses of attics and reflections on differential impacts of the pandemic, including on parents

Greg ShillBattle of Lincoln Park: Urban Renewal and Gentrification in Chicago by Daniel Kay Hertz and Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing In America by Conor Dougherty

Jeff LinA Sense of Where You Are by Devin Bunten

Devin Michelle Bunten: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson and a podcast interview on the subject with Chris Hayes

Episode 5: Ganesh Sitaraman, Morgan Ricks & Chris Serkin: “Regulation & The Geography of InequalitY”

Professors Ganesh SitaramanMorgan Ricks, and Chris Serkin are Professors of Law at Vanderbilt Law School.

Professor Michelle Layser, an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, joins as guest co-host for this discussion.


Ganesh Sitaraman: Jump Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream by Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson.

Chris Serkin: Neighborhood Defenders: Participatory Politics and America’s Housing Crisis by Katherine Levine Einstein, David Glick, and Maxwell Palmer.

Michelle Layser: How Place-Based Tax Incentives Can Reduce Geographic Inequality by Michelle Layser.

Greg ShillWhy Cities Lose: The Deep Roots of the Urban-Rural Divide by Jonathan Rodden.

Jeff LinLocal Ties in Spatial Equilibrium by Mike Zabek

Episode 6: Katherine Levine Einstein: “Neighborhood Defenders: Participatory Politics and America’s Housing CrisiS”

Our guest is Katherine Levine Einstein, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Boston University and an author of Neighborhood Defenders: Participatory Politics and America’s Housing Crisis. Her co-authors David Glick and Maxwell Palmer are professors in the same department.

Michael Hankinson, Assistant Professor of Political Science at George Washington University, joins as guest co-host.


Katherine Levine Einstein: Driving Turnout: The Effect of Car Ownership on Electoral Participation by Justin de Benedictis-Kessner and Maxwell Palmer.

Greg ShillACBNY v. City of New York (SDNY court decision from October 2020 holding NYC liable for failing to make its crosswalks accessible to the vision-impaired). Greg also wrote a twitter thread on the decision and some broader implications.

Jeff LinThe Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps by Michael Blanding

Michael Hankinson: Bringing the polls to the people: How increasing electoral access encourages turnout but exacerbates political inequality by Daniel de Kadt


Note to listeners: this interview was recorded shortly before Election Day.

Our guest is Jonathan Rodden, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and author of Why Cities Lose: The Deep Roots of the Urban-Rural Political Divide. Jonathan also authored an amicus brief in a partisan gerrymandering case that was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2019 (details below).

Ari Stern, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Washington University in St. Louis, joins as guest co-host. Ari authored a separate amicus brief in support of the same parties in the same SCOTUS partisan gerrymandering case (details below).


Jonathan Rodden: Harvard economist Benjamin Enke’s research on public opinion and the distinction between moral universalism and moral communalism.

Greg ShillThe Road to Inequality: How the Federal Highway Program Polarized America and Undermined Cities by Clayton Nall.

Jeff Lin: Discussion of long-run urban dynamics in (1) the short story “More Stately Mansions” by John Updike in the collection Trust Me, and (2) Portage and Path Dependence by Hoyt Bleakley and Jeffrey Lin.

Ari Stern: The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? by Michael J. Sandel

Amicus briefs authored by Jonathan and Ari in a recent SCOTUS partisan gerrymandering case:

Jonathan Rodden: Brief for Common Cause et al. as Brief of Amici Curiae in Support of Appellees, Rucho v. Common Cause, 139 S.Ct. 2484 (2019) (No. 18-422).

Ari Stern: Brief for Common Cause et al. as Amicus Brief of Mathematicians, L. Professors, and Students in Support of Appellees and Affirmance, Rucho v. Common Cause 139 S.Ct. 2484 (2019) (No. 18-422).


Our guest is Devin Michelle Bunten, the Edward H. and Joyce Linde Assistant Professor of Urban Economics and Housing at MIT. We discuss her working paper, People or Parking? (joint with Lyndsey Rolheiser, Assistant Professor of Urban Economics at Ryerson University).

Katherine Levine Einstein, Associate Professor of Political Science at Boston University, joins as guest co-host.


Devin Michelle Bunten: People Before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, and a New Movement for City Making by Karilyn Crockett

Greg ShillGood News and Bad News About Parking in London by Henry Grabar

Jeff Lin: Leads us through his quest to find how much land in Manhattan is devoted to cars. He is unable to get a clear answer but asks that anyone who is noble and pure of heart to join him on his quest by tweeting the answer to him.

Katherine Levine Einstein: Outsiders at Home: The Politics of American Islamophobia by Nazita Lajevardi

EPISODE 9: Michelle Layser: “How Place-Based Tax Incentives Can Reduce Geographic Inequality

Michelle Layser is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law and the author of How Place-Based Tax Incentives Can Reduce Geographic Inequality, forthcoming in the Tax Law Review.

Cailin Slattery, Assistant Professor of Business at Columbia Business School, joins as guest co-host.


Michelle Layser: a forthcoming issue of the Fordham Urban Law Journal focusing on opportunity zones.

Greg ShillIt’s Time to Move On From Community Consensus by Jeremy Levine.

Jeff LinNeighborhood Dynamics and the Distribution of Opportunity by Dionissi Aliprantis and Daniel R. Carroll and Can You Move to Opportunity? Evidence from the Great Migration by Ellora Derenoncourt.

Cailin Slattery: What Determines Where Opportunity Knocks? Political Affiliation in the Selection of Opportunity Zones? by Mary Margaret Frank, Jeffery Hoops, and Rebecca Lester.


The Future of Law & Transportation Symposium: Transportation Planning & Land Use I

Today’s is the first in a mini series of episodes we are running from a first-of-its-kind academic event on law and transportation policy, featuring scholars from multiple disciplines. Thanks to Talking Headways podcast host Jeff Wood, who edited and ran this episode first on his show, for allowing us to feature it here.

After an intro to the Symposium from Greg Shill, each scholar speaks for about 12 minutes.

Jonathan Levine (University of Michigan Urban & Regional Planning): “Transportation Policy Entrenchment: Institutional Barriers to Accessibility-Based Planning”

Audrey McFarlane (University of Baltimore School of Law): “Black Mobility and the Refusal of Funds: Structural Racism and Mass Transportation Decision-Making”

Sara Bronin (UConn Law): “The Failed Federalism of Street and Vehicle Design Standards”

Symposium Program