Chris Fowler


When cities spend money who pays and who benefits? This question has guided my research agenda throughout my career. From studies on competitiveness and industry cluster policies to more recent work on how, why and where neighborhoods change I am focused on the broad range of distributive outcomes associated with city spending. Currently I am focused on methods for representing neighborhood change in complex, multiscalar contexts and developing a line of research that explores the increasing neighborhood-scale diversity in U.S. cities. I am motivated by a desire to better understand how different groups, particularly the poor, benefit (or fail to benefit) from local policy decisions. My published work intersects with demography, economics, public policy, and urban studies. A key component of much of my research is an effort to blend complex, interview-based research on neighborhoods with innovative quantitative methods of spatial analysis.

Recent work with coauthors Rhubart and Jensen has led to the publication of labor-shed and commuting zone delineations available at This site contains text, spreadsheet, and GIS files for multiple delineations and multiple years including ERS Commuting Zones, BEA Economic Areas, and FCC Partial Economic Areas.

Research Interests

  • urban and economic geography
  • demographics
  • poverty
  • planning and economic development policies
  • spatial statistics
  • complex economic systems


  • B.A. Dartmouth College
  • Ph.D. University of Washington

Courses Taught

  • GEOG 424: Geography of the Global Economy
  • GEOG 126: Introduction to Economic Geography
  • GEOG 497A: Population Geography


Selected Recent Publications:

Lumley-Sapanski, Audrey and Christopher Fowler (2017) ‘“Planning dissonance’ and the bases for stably diverse neighborhoods: The case of South Seattle.” City and Community Vol. 16, Issue 1, pp. 86-115.

Fowler, Christopher, Barrett Lee and Stephen Matthews (2016) “The contribution of places to metropolitan ethnoracial diversity and segregation: Decomposing change across space and time.Demography Vol. 53, Issue 6, pp. 1955-1977.

Fowler, Christopher, Danielle C. Rhubart and Leif Jensen (2016) “Reassessing and revising commuting zones for 2010: History, assessment, and updates for U.S. ‘labor-sheds’ 1990-2010.” Population Research and Policy Review Vol. 35,  Issue 2, pp. 263-286.

Fowler, Christopher (2016) “Segregation as a multi-scalar phenomenon and its implications for neighborhood-scale research: The case of South Seattle 1990-2010.” Urban Geography Vol. 37, Issue 1, pp. 1-25.

Chrisinger, Colleen, Christopher Fowler and Rachel Garshick Kleit. (2015) “Clusters and Employment Outcomes in Washington State” Economic Development Quarterly doi:10.1177/0891242415571126

Fowler, Christopher, Jane Cover and Rachel Garshick Kleit. (2014) “The Geography of Fringe Banking” Journal of Regional Science. Vol. 54, Issue 4 pp. 688-710.

Fowler, Christopher and Rachel Kleit. (2014) “The effects of industrial clusters on the poverty rate” Economic       Geography Vol. 90, Issue 2 pp. 129-154.

Ellis, Mark, Steven Holloway, Richard Wright, and Christopher Fowler. (2012) “Agents of Change: Mixed-Race Households and the Dynamics of Neighborhood Segregation” Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Vol. 102, Issue 3 pp.549-570.

Fowler, Christopher (2011). “Finding Equilibrium: how important is general equilibrium to the results of geographical economics?” Journal of Economic Geography Vol. 11, Issue 3 pp.457-480