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UPP’s David López-García Explores Policy Interactions and Worker Mobility in New Book

David López-García

In his new book, Worker Mobility and Urban Policy in Latin America: Policy Interactions and Urban Outcomes in Mexico City, CUPPA Postdoctoral Research Associate David López-García, PhD argues that urban outcomes are better understood as the result of interactions between policies from distinct policy domains rather than from any single policy silo. To illustrate this concept López-García develops and utilizes the Policy Interactions Framework to analyze the mobility experience of workers in Greater Mexico City.

López-García argues that the sectorial approach of subdividing urban dynamics into individual policy domains results in a siloed analysis of urban complexity. He notes how this approach leads researchers and practitioners to focus on narrow areas of expertise and makes it difficult to identify the policy interactions that produce spatial and social urban inequalities. To address these gaps in policy research López-García’s book proposes the institution of the Policy Interactions Framework (PIF), a new analytic framework, to understand how policy interactions lead to spatial and social unintended consequences. In doing so, the book contributes a novel analytical framework inspired by and designed specifically for urban policy analysis. López-García utilizes the PIF to explore how interactions between policies from different policy domains effect the commuting patterns of workers in Greater Mexico City.

In studying the mobility experience of workers in Greater Mexico City, López-García examines the policy interactions between economic development policies that influence the location of jobs, housing policies that effect residential location, and transport polices that impact transportation systems in the city. He utilizes a mixed-methods research approach to investigate how these policy interactions have produced inequalities in worker mobility in Greater Mexico City. The study utilizes several statistical analyses to examine time and distance in the journey to work to quantify and map commuting inequalities, assess the shift in the spatial location of the demand for labor between 1999 and 2019, examine the default housing pathways available for workers, and evaluate the spatial distribution of public and common mobility resources. Analyses in this study are also based on fieldwork conducted in Greater Mexico City. This includes data from focus groups composed of residents in the study area and key informant interviews conducted with residents and policy related informants from various sectors and focus areas.

López-García found that a significant contribution of this study was the PIF because it provided an analytic and methodological tool for the empirical analysis of policy interactions in urban settings. The study revealed that spatial inequalities in the mobility experience of workers through public transport was the result of the interaction between the economic development, housing, and transportation policy domains. The results of this study yielded the choiceless mobility hypothesis (CHM), that López-García defines as the process through which the interaction between policies from distinct policy domains produce mobility situations that consistently increased the transportation costs for workers. The CHM highlights how the interactions between the spatial location of the demand for labor, the housing pathways available for workers, and the political economy of public transport operate to produce geographies of low accessibility to jobs.