You are here

Heikkila, Eric

Public Policy

Contact Information
USC Price School of Public Policy
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 at the USC Price School of Public Policy. For many years he was director of the school's global initiatives. His research 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 (2020). 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 work in the practical aspects of development and urban planning provide a solid grounding for his academic research. 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 Global Initiatives at the USC Price School of Public Policy, Dr. Heikkila was responsible for planning and coordinating the School’s global engagement, including strategic institutional partnerships with counterpart institutions abroad.

Current Work:

  • Eric J. Heikkila, China from a U.S. Policy Perspective (2021). (presentation)
    How the rise of China alters the context in which the broad spectrum of policies in the United States should be assessed. Here, the policy domain of the U.S. government is carved into three broad spheres:
    • economic policies: fiscal policy and deficits, trade policy, and employment and income
    • sustainability policies: climate change, urban policy, and energy policy
    • geopolitical policies: homeland security, defense policy, and foreign relations.

For each domain, Heikkila assesses the key policy issues and trade offs, examining how the balance of such tradeoffs shifts due to China’s rise. In doing so, he demonstrates how a rising China exerts its gravitation pull on U.S. policy, not so much through lobbying or negotiation, but through the very nature of its being. A concluding chapter presents a workable synthesis derived from these diverse perspectives.

At a time of increasing tensions, it is all the more important for U.S. policy makers to focus on the many substantive policy questions that are impacted by China’s rise. China from a U.S. Policy Perspective will be of key interest to scholars, practitioners, and students of policy analysis, U.S. politics, Chinese politics, and International Relations.

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

    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 (2021), China from a U.S. Policy Perspective, Routledge. ISBN: 0367897970.
  • 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

  • Xu, Y., & Heikkila, E. J., How Can Cities Learn from Each Other? Evidence from China’s Five-Year Plans; Journal of Urban Management, 9(2), 216-277; 2020.
  • Heikkila, E. J., & Harten, J. G., Can Land Use Regulation Be Smarter? Planners’ Role in the Informal Housing Challenge; Journal of Planning Education and Research, 0739456X19880272; 2019.
  • Heikkila, E. J., & Xu, Y., Seven Prototypical Chinese Cities; Urban Studies, 51(4), 827-847. Published online in 2013; 2014.
  • Heikkila, E. J., & Lin, M. C. Y. , An integrated model of formal and informal housing sectors; Annals of Regional Science, 52(1). Published online in 2013; 2014.
  • 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 (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

Eric Heikkila, China from a U.S. Policy Perspective lecture series, 2020 (YouTube)
Eric Heikkila, discussant at "China's Growing Pains" conference, urbanization panel, 2016 (USCI | YouTube)
Eric Heikkila, Seven Prototypical Chinese Cities, 2011 (YouTube)