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Heikkila, Eric

Public Policy

Contact Information
Director, International Initiatives
USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development
Office: Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall 301D
Phone: (213) 821-1037

Curriculum Vitae


  • Ph.D., Economics, University of British Columbia, 1986
  • M.A., cum laude, Department of Economics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1979
  • B.A., Triple major in Mathematics, Economics and Political Science; Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, 1978

Eric Heikkila is Professor and Director of International Initiatives at the USC Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California (USC). His research work is both quantitative and qualitative in nature, and his scholarly writings address a wide range of topics on urban development and public policy. His books include The Economics of Planning (CUPR Press, 2000) and China from a U.S. Policy Perspective (forthcoming). He has applied economic & spatial analysis, fuzzy sets, agent based modeling and a variety of statistical techniques to study urban structure. Other aspects of his work include a more qualitative, policy oriented approach to urban development issues, especially in the context of the Asia Pacific region. He has spent sabbatical leaves as a visiting scholar on separate occasions at National Taiwan University (Department of Geography), Peking University (Department of Urban and Environmental Sciences), and Chinese University of Hong Kong (Department of Geography and Resource Management).

Dr. Heikkila’s links to professional practice help ground his academic research agenda in more pragmatic concerns. Shortly after joining USC, he became founding Executive Secretary of the Pacific Rim Council on Urban Development (PRCUD), a globally based non-governmental organization that organizes regular forums in host cities throughout the Asia Pacific region. He has undertaken consulting work for the World Bank, USAID, UNDP and other organizations. As Director of International Initiatives at the USC Price School of Public Policy, Dr. Heikkila has broad responsibility for planning and coordinating the School’s global engagement, including strategic institutional partnerships with counterpart institutions abroad.

Current Work:

  • Eric J. Heikkila and Dr. Ying Ian (Hunan University) (2011), "Seven Prototypical Chinese Cities."

    Not all Chinese cities are alike, and these differences are reflected in the challenges posed by urbanization and the corresponding responses cities undertake.  From a national perspective, however, similarities are essential for formulating broad urbanization strategies. Our research addresses this dilemma through a cluster analysis based on key word coding of principal tasks outlined in the 11th Five-Year Plans of 286 major cities in China.  Seven distinct clusters emerge, and an additional analysis using socio-economic data from the China City Statistical Yearbook is undertaken to further identify the defining characteristics of each cluster. Finally, implications for national development strategies are discussed.


  • Eric J. Heikkila (201x), China from a U.S. Policy Perspective, draft manuscript in process
  • Eric J. Heikkila (2002), Southern California and the World, edited volume (Rafael E. Pizarro, co-editor), Praeger Press, ISBN 0-275-97112-0.
  • Eric J. Heikkila (2000), Economics of Planning, CUPR Press, Center for Urban Policy Research, Rutgers University, ISBN 0-88285-162-4. 2nd printing in paperback released 2007.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • Eric J. Heikkila and M.N. Huang (2014), “Adaption to Flooding in Urban Areas: An Economic Primer," Public Works Management & Policy, vol. 19(1), 11-36; 2014.
  • Eric J. Heikkila and Michael C.Y. Lin (2014), “An integrated model of formal and informal housing sectors”, Annals of Regional Science, vol. 52(1), March.  Published online in 2013.
  • Eric J. Heikkila and Mylinh Ngo Huang (2014), “Adaptation to Flooding in Urban Areas: An Economic Primer”, Public Works Management & Policy, vol. 19(1), January, 11-36.
  • Eric J. Heikkila (2011), “Environmentalism with Chinese Characteristics?: Urban River Revitalization in Foshan”, Planning Theory & Practice, vol.12(1), 33-55.
  • Eric J. Heikkila (2011), “Beijing: Lost in Translation?”, Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, vol. 28(1), 76-.
  • Eric J. Heikkila (2011), “Re-Inventing Korea”, in C.H. Christine Bae and Harry W. Richardson, Regional and Urban Policy and Planning on the Korean Peninsula, Edward Elgar.  Reworking of Heikkila (2005), JEAF.
  • Eric J. Heikkila (2011), “An Information Perspective on Path Dependence”, Journal of Institutional Economics, vol.7(1), March, 23-45.
  • Eric J. Heikkila (2011), “Identity and inequality in planning: implications for regional development”, in Harry W. Richardson, C.H. Christine Bae and Sang-Chuel Choe, eds., Reshaping Regional Policy, Edgar Elgar, Cheltonham, U.K.  Reworking of Heikkila (2001), PTP.
  • Eric J. Heikkila and Philippe Peycam (2010), “Economic Development in the Shadow of Angkor Wat: Meaning, Legitimation, and Myth”, Journal of Planning Education and Research, vol. 29(3), Spring, 294 –309.
  • Eric J. Heikkila and Yiming Wang (2010), “Exploring the Dual Dichotomy within Urban Geography: An Application of Fuzzy Urban Sets, Urban Geography, vol. 31(3), 406-421. 

Other Publications

  • Eric J. Heikkila (2013), Book Review: Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning, Rachel Weber and Randall Crane, editors; for Journal of Regional Science
  • Eric J. Heikkila (2010), "Urban Planning and Development Responses to Climate Change: Adaptation and Mitigation", PRCUD Ho Chi Minh City Report, Pacific Rim Council on Urban Development, Los Angeles (Executive Editor). Principal Author: Paul Rabe


October 29, 2020 - 4:00pm
The USC U.S.-China Institute and the USC Center on Transnational Law and Business look at what might be the aims of the next administration by focusing on technology, trade and investment ties.