Professor, Department of Global Development
Cities across the world are faced with the challenges of fiscal stress, service delivery restructuring, and the imperative to promote economic development. Mildred Warner is an international expert on restructuring local government services, how to plan for more child and age-friendly cities, and how to promote environmental sustainability at the local level. Decentralization has elevated the importance of local government worldwide, but social protection is challenged by devolution, privatization, and fiscal crisis. Cities must pick up the slack and Warner's research explores how. She has authored more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, and professional reports, and has received major research grants from government and foundations. Warner works closely with local government, planners, policy analysts, economic developers, and union leaders both in the U.S. and abroad. She received her B.A in history from Oberlin College, and her M.S. in agricultural economics and Ph.D. in development sociology from Cornell.
- Professor, City and Regional Planning, College of Art, Architecture and Planning
- Director, Local Government Restructuring Lab
- Professor (joint), Global Development, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
- Zhang, Xue, Warner, Mildred E. and Grant, Mary. 2021 “Water shutoff moratoria lowered COVID-19 infection and death across US States," American Journal of Preventive Medicine. forthcoming. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2021.07.00
- Warner, Mildred E. and Xue Zhang. 2021. “Social Safety Nets and COVID-19 Stay Home Orders across US States: A Comparative Policy Analysis,” Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 23(2): 176-190. https://doi.org/10.1080/13876988.2021.1874243.
- Warner, Mildred E, Yuanshuo Xu 2021. “Productivity Divergence: State Policy, Corporate Capture and Labor Power,” Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society for special issue on “Rethinking the Political Economy of Place.” 14(1): 51-68. 10.1093/cjres/rsaa040
- Kim, Yunji, Austin M. Aldag and Mildred E. Warner 2021. “Blocking the Progressive City: How State Preemptions Undermine Labor Rights,” Urban Studies, 58(6): 1158-1175.doi:0042098020910337.
- Warner, Mildred E., Austin Aldag and Yunji Kim 2021. “Pragmatic Municipalism: US Local Government Responses to Fiscal Stress,” Public Administration Review, 81(3): 389-398. https://doi.org/10.1111/puar.13196
- Warner, Mildred E., Xue Zhang 2020. “Healthy Places for Children: the critical role of engagement, common vision and collaboration,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(24), 9277; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249277
- Warner, Mildred E. 2018 Un Buen Lugar en Tungurahua: Estrategias Familiares de un Pueblo Rural, Quito, Ecuador: FLACSO and Abya Yala. ISBN: 978-9942-09-490-2. Pdf available for free download.
- Cornell Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Rapid Response Fund, “Water Equity and Government Policy during COVID-19,” 2021-22, with Xue Zhang, Cornell University.
- “Local Government, Inequality and Rural Wellbeing” $500,000. USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural and Food Research Initiative Competitive Program, Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities, 2021-2024. with Linda Lobao, Ohio State University; Yuanshuo Xu, Zhejiang University; Paige Kelly and Xue Zhang, Cornell University.
- “State level COVID-19 Policies: Economics, Equity and Health,” Cornell Center for Social Sciences, with Xue Zhang and Elaine Wethington, Cornell University, 2020- 2023.
- “Spatial Inequality, Labor Protections and the Role of State and Local Government,” Cornell Center for the Study of Inequality. 2020- 2022.
- “Age-Friendly Rural Communities – Linking Economy, Planning, Services and Health,” $500,000. USDA, 2019- 2022, with Elaine Wethington and Xue Zhang at Cornell, and Dreamal Worthen and Gail Randolph at Florida A and M University.
Margarita McCoy award for the Advancement of Women in Planning, from the Faculty Women’s Interest Group of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, November, 2020.
Excellence in Research Award from the Rural Sociological Society. August, 2019.
Best Contribution to the Planning Profession, awarded to AARP, APA International Division, Arup Consulting and Cornell University for the collaborative research project, “Livable Communities for All Ages: International Planner Engagement and Best Practices,” American Planning Association, April 2019.
Outstanding Student Project Award, New York Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association, for Economic and Community Development Workshop: Addressing Fiscal Austerity (CRP 5074), Cornell University, May 2018.
Selected Exhibitions and Presentations
“US Local Government Response to Fiscal Crisis: Austerity Urbanism or Pragmatic Municipalism?” Section on Chinese Public Administration (SCPA) of American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), July 6, 2021. 354 participants.
"Pushing paradigms in planning to allow attention to gender issues," Margarita McCoy Lecture, Cal Poly Pomona, April 14, 2021.
GO Lab, Oxford University, Social Outcomes Conference, September 2020. Panel on “Pricing Value – Where to draw a line between incentive alignment and commoditization." (Warner is 40 minutes in to linked video)
Planning, Public Health, and Responses to COVID-19, Webinar. College of Art, Architecture and Planning, Cornell University, Sept 28, 2020
SLATE broadcast on municipal fiscal stress in the COVID-19 recession. July 2020. (Warner is 14 minutes in)
“Driving Innovation to Create Aging-friendly Communities.” APA Webinar June 17, 2020. #9201839.
Recent Courses Taught
- CRP 5074: Economic Development Workshop: Multi-Generational Planning: Economic and Community Development workshop courses focus on the economics of neighborhoods, cities, and regions with the intent of producing more informed and effective economic development policy. Topics of study include, among others, the application of analytical tools needed to produce first-rate economic development plans, the special needs of excluded, poor and segregated communities, use of quantitative and qualitative methods to address social inequalities, the politics of planning, relationships between economic development and community development.
- CRP 7201: Ph.D. Research Design: This course provides a comprehensive review of the research and writing process to help Ph.D. students develop a strategy for writing a research proposal and journal article. The course provides a comprehensive review of the research design process and will result in each student developing his/her dissertation proposal. The course focuses on articulating research objectives, managing the research process, ethics, funding and professional development as a scholar. The course also explores how to write journal articles (journal selection, review process) and how to position your work in your academic field.
- CRP 4120/6120: Devolution, Privatization, and the New Public Management: Local governments across the world face challenges of infrastructure and service delivery in the context of fiscal constraints. Innovations often involve devolution and privatization. Scholarly research debates whether these market approaches promote efficiency, regional equity, local economic growth and citizen voice. Students will review the theoretical bases for these claims and the empirical evidence from around the world. Students will write theory papers as well as engage in group work on practical policy questions facing cities.
- Ph.D. Development Sociology, Cornell University, 1997
- M.S., Agricultural Economics, Cornell University, 1985
- B.A., History, Oberlin College, 1979, Phi Beta Kappa.
Dr. Mildred E. Warner is a Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning and Department of Global Development at Cornell University where her work focuses primarily on local government service delivery, economic development and planning across generations. Dr. Warner's research explores the impact of privatization and devolution on local government and the role of human services as part of the social infrastructure for economic development. Her work shows potential for market based solutions in public service delivery but also raises cautions about the uneven incidence of market approaches in depressed inner city and rural areas. Her work on planning across generations explores new community development models for addressing human services and linking the needs of children and elders. Her work on on local government economic development policy focuses also on the potential linkages to environmental sustainability action.
Dr. Warner is author of over a hundred publications including articles in top journals such as Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Public Administration Review, Public Administration, Urban Affairs Review, Journal of Urban Affairs, Journal of Marriage and Family, and Rural Sociology. Research on privatization and costs published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management in 2010 (with G. Bel and X. Fageda) received the 2011 Best Article Award from the Academy of Management - Public and Nonprofit Division.
Dr. Warner has received major research grants from the US Dept. of Agriculture to study the links between economic development and environmental sustainability, planning across generations, shared service delivery among local governments and with school districts, and the impacts of devolution and privatization on local governments. Grants from the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, Peppercorn and W.K. Kellogg Foundations have supported exploration of the links between economic development and child care. Dr. Warner has a strong extension orientation and consults widely with local government and union leaders on local government reform, and with child care policy makers and business leaders on economic development strategies to support social infrastructure. Recent work has taken her to Canada, Italy, Spain, the UK, the Netherlands, Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Ecuador, Bulgaria, Slovakia, China and Singapore. She is a Research Affiliated Scholar with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and a Research Associate with the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC where she spent her sabbatical in 2005. Prior to her professorship at Cornell, she served as a program officer with the Ford Foundation in NYC and as Associate Director of Cornell's Community and Rural Development Institute.
Recent publications in Global Development
- Warner, Mildred E. 2018 Un Buen Lugar en Tungurahua: Estrategias Familiares de un Pueblo Rural, Quito, Ecuador: FLACSO and Abya Yala. ISBN: 978-9942-09-490-2. Pdf available for free download.
- Zhang, Xue, Mildred E. Warner and Elaine Wethington, 2020. Can age friendly planning promote equity in community health across the rural-urban divide? International Journal of Environmental Research and PublicHealth, 17(4): 1275-91.
- Kim, Yunji and Mildred E. Warner 2020. “Pragmatic Municipalism or Austerity Urbanism? Understanding Local Government Responses to Fiscal Stress,” Local Government Studies, published early view.
- Turesky, Marisa and Warner, Mildred E. (2020). “Gender Dynamics in the Planning Workplace: The Importance of Women in Management,” Journal of the American Planning Association, 86(2): 157-170.
- Mann, Cory L. and Mildred E. Warner. 2019. “Power Asymmetries and Limits to Eminent Domain: The Case of Missoula Water’s Municipalization,” Water Alternatives, 12(2): 725-737.
- Tse, Allison and Mildred E. Warner 2020. “Comparing Policy Outputs and Outcomes: Does SIB Market Discipline Narrow Social Rights?” Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 22(2): 134-152.
- Warner, Mildred E. and Xue Zhang, 2019. “Planning Communities for All Ages,” Journal of Planning Education and Research, forthcoming. doi.org/10.1177/0739456X1982805
- Homsy, George C., Lu Liao and Mildred E. Warner, 2019. “Sustainability and Disaster Planning: What are the Connections?” Rural Sociology, 84(3): 516-540.
- Pratt, Eleanor E. and Warner, Mildred E. 2019. “Imagining the “Good Place”: Public Services and Family Strategies in Rural Ecuador,” Rural Sociology, 84(2), 284-314.
- Clifton, Judith, Daniel Díaz-Fuentes and Mildred E. Warner 2016. The Loss of Public Values when Public Utilities Go Abroad, Utilities Policy, 40: 134-143.
- Gonzalez, M. Beers, K., Weber-Shirk, M., and Warner, M. (2014). “Analyzing the Potential of Community Water Systems--The Case of AguaClara" Water Policy, 16 (2014) 557–577.
- Liao, Lu, Warner, Mildred E., and Homsy, George C., "Sustainability’s Forgotten Third E: What Influences Local Government Actions on Social Equity?" Local Environment, 1197–1208 (2019)
- Aldag, Austin, Kim, Yunji, and Warner, Mildred E., "Austerity Coalitions or Pragmatic Municipalism? Local Responses to Austerity in New York State," Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 51, no. 6, 1287–1305 (2019)
- “Promoting Age Friendly Communities,” Engaged Cornell Impact Grant, $50,000. 2020-2022.
- “Preemption – Local Government Perspectives,” Rockefeller Family Fund, $15,000. 2019-2020.
- “Age-Friendly Rural Communities – Linking Economy, Planning, Services and Health,” $500,000. USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural and Food Research Initiative Competitive Program, Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities, grant # 2019-68006-29674, April 2019-March 2022, with Elaine Wethington and Xue Zhang at Cornell, and Dreamal Worthen and Gail Randolph at Florida A and M University.
- “Local Government Fiscal Stress in New York State,” Engaged Cornell Opportunity Grant 2018-19, $5000.
- “Livable Communities for All Ages: International Planner Engagement and Best Practices,”A Research Grant from the APA Divisions Council to the APA International Division, AARP and Cornell University, $7,000. 2018.
- “Creating Age Friendly Roman Neighborhoods,” Engaged Cornell Opportunity Grant, Cornell in Rome, $5000, March 2017-March 2018.
- State Policy and Local Fiscal Stress: Implications for Rural Governments, $500,000. USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural and Food Research Initiative Competitive Program, Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities, grant # 2017- 67023-26226 with Linda Lobao, Ohio State University and Yunji Kim, University of Wisconsin-Madison. April 2017-March 2020.
- Social Impact Bonds – Comparing US and European Experience, $4300, Luigi Einaudi CIES Faculty Innovation Grant, 2017.
- Supporting Sullivan Seniors Planning Project, $20,000, with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Sullivan County, Engaged Learning and Research, Cornell University, March 2016-2017.
- Understanding the Impact of Austerity on New York’s on Local Governments, with Yunji Kim,
- $5000, Cornell Institute for Social Sciences, March 2016-2017. $7500, Fiscal Policy Institute, 2016-2017.
- NYS Union of Teachers, New York State Municipal Conference and Research on Tax Policy and Community Well-being Indicators, $25,000 with CaRDI – Rod Howe and John Sipple, Dec 2014-March 2015.
- Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station, Hatch and Smith Lever Programs, Fiscal Stress and Local Decisionmaking: Options for NYS municipalities and School Districts, with John Sipple, $76,500, Grant # 1597422, 2014-2017.
- Cornell Jeffrey S. Lehman Fund, Local Government Role in Promoting Sustainability? What Can the US and China Learn from Each Other? $20,000, with Zhilin Liu and Ciqi Mei, Tsinghua University. 2014-2016.
- Cornell Institute for European Studies, Luigi Einaudi Chair Innovation Grant, $6000, Addressing the Public Infrastructure Crisis: Comparative US and European Perspectives, with Judith Clifton, Daniel Diaz-Fuentes and Richard Geddes, 2014-15.
- Agricultural and Food Research Initiative Competitive Program of the USDA, National Institute for Food and Agriculture, Rural Sustainability: Linking Economics And The Environment, $495,168 with George Homsy, SUNY Binghamton, 2014-2018. Grant # 2014-68006-21834.
- American Planning Association, Planning through a Gender Lens: Inclusive Planning for Aging and Liveable Communities, $3000. With Planning and Women Division of APA. 2013-present.
- Cornell Population Program, Suburbs: Changing Construct, New Definitions, One semester research assistantship ($29,000). Co-PI with David L. Brown. Fall 2013.
- USDA, National Institute for Food and Agriculture. $499,094, Great Recession, Fiscal Stress And Demographic Transformation – Implications For Rural Service Delivery And Multi-Generational Planning, with David Brown (co-PI), Grant # 2011-68006-30793 2011-2014.
- Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station, Hatch and Smith Lever Programs, $105,000, for Inter-governmental Cooperation: A Strategy for Rural New York Governments, with John Sipple (co-PI). 2011-2014.
- Cornell Population Program, Great Recession, Fiscal Stress and Demographic Transformation – Implications for Rural Service Delivery and Multi-Generational Planning, One semester research assistantship ($29,000). Co-PI with David L. Brown. Fall 2011.
Local Government Fiscal Stress
New York State's local governments have come under increasingly high levels of fiscal responsibility in recent years, resulting in stress for local governments. Through analysis of economic trends, focus groups and statewide surveys, we explore causes and responses to fiscal stress.
States and local governments have historically competed for power and resources, but in recent years there has been a new wave of state preemption of local authority. These preemptions limit local initiative in regulation for public health (smoking, gun control, sugary drinks), environment (land use controls, right of way), economic equality (minimum wage and worker protections), human rights (sanctuary cities and anti-discrimination) and new emerging sectors (5-G, broadband, ride sharing and home sharing), and limit fiscal authority (tax and expenditure limitations). Local government is on the forefront of addressing these issues, but states can restrict local government action. Our reports look at the changing nature of preemption and how local governments are responding.
Planning Across Generations
The needs of families with young children and seniors wanting to age in place are not adequately addressed in many communities. Children and seniors have unique requirements relating to housing and neighborhood design, parks and recreation, and transportation. Communities that address these needs benefit both socially and economically. This section gives practicing planners the background and tools they need to implement family-friendly initiatives. Multi-generational planning is based on inclusive design, shared services, and a common vision to meet the needs of all residents.
Local governments can take a leadership role in promoting sustainability. We have seen this with some big cities. But cities leading in sustainability policy action only account for a small proportion of the local governments across the US. In this project, Dr. Mildred Warner, and Dr. George Homsy, Professor of Public Administration at Binghamton University have set out to understand the drivers and barriers to sustainability policymaking among the full range of local governments across the nation, with research funding from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture of the USDA.
215 W. Sibley Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
mew15 [at] cornell.edu
Mildred in the news
- Cornell Atkinson
- Department of Global Development