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Photo of Weber, Rachel

Rachel Weber


Urban Planning and Policy

Pronouns: she/her/hers


Building & Room:

236 CUPPA Hall, MC 348


412 S. Peoria St., Suite 236

Office Phone:

(312) 355-0307


I am an urban planner, political economist, and economic geographer who researches the relationship between finance and the built environment. My focus has been on instruments (tax increment financing, auction rate securities, crowdfunding, mortgage backed securities, tax credits) and infrastructures (school facilities, toll roads, commercial real estate). I am interested in why cities adopt certain instruments and how the use of particular methods of raising capital affects who benefits from and pays for urban infrastructures. In my work I have advanced the concept of “financialization” as shorthand for how these tools bring new politics, kinds of knowledge, and risks to bear on policy and development decisions.

Selected Publications

Rachel Weber, From Boom to Bubble: How Finance Built the New Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.

Rachel Weber. “Performing property cycles.” Journal of Cultural Economy 9.6: 587-603, 2016.

Phil Ashton, Marc Doussard, and Rachel Weber, “Reconstituting the State: City Powers and Exposures in Chicago’s Infrastructure Leases.” Urban Studies, May 2014

Rachel Weber, “Selling City Futures: The Financialization of Urban Redevelopment Policy” Economic Geography 86 (3): 251-274, 2010

Rachel Weber, “Embedding futurity in urban governance: Redevelopment schemes and the time value of money” Environment and Planning A (2020):

Andrea Craft, Joshua Drucker, and Rachel Weber. “Variation in the Heartland: Explaining the Use of Economic Development Incentives in Three Great Lakes States.” Urban Affairs Review (2020):

Joshua Drucker, Richard Funderburg, David Merriman, and Rachel Weber. “Do local governments use business tax incentives to compensate for high business property taxes?” Regional Science and Urban Economics 81 (2020):

Joshua Drucker, Geon Kim, and Rachel Weber. ”Did incentives help municipalities recover from the Great Recession? Evidence from Midwestern cities” Growth and Change (2019):

Rachel Weber, Stephanie Farmer, and Mary Donoghue. “Predicting School Closures in an Era of Austerity: The Case of Chicago.” Urban Affairs Review (2018):

Service to Community

Board of Directors, Oak Park Residence Corporation, 2018-present

Advisory Committee, Chicago United for Equity, 2019-2020

Appointed Member, Tax Increment Financing Reform Task Force, for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s transition, 2011

Member, Urban Policy Advisory Committee for then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, 2008

Notable Honors

2009, Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of Illinois at Chicago

2017, Best Book Award, Urban Affairs Association


PhD City and Regional Planning, Cornell University (1998)
---- Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Center for International Security and Arms Control, Stanford University (1997)
MRP City and Regional Planning, Cornell University (1995)
BA Development Studies, Brown University, magna cum laude and high honors (1989)