John Felkner


I am interested in the driving processes and economic and social implications of rapid global urbanization and mega-cities. I’ve worked for the World Bank, USAID, and The Millennium Challenge Corporation in Egypt, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, Benin, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, China, The Philippines, Russia, the Republic of Georgia, and Honduras; Current research includes economic and environmental impact evaluation of infrastructure development in Republic of Georgia, Honduras and Cambodia, informal areas planning in Kenya, and water sustainability in the Mekong.


DDes, Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, Urban and Regional Planning
MA, University of California, Santa Barbara, Geography
BA, Williams College, English with Honors

Research Activities

Selected Research Grants:

Felkner, John Sames (PI), & Holtgrieve, Gordon (PI). (Aug 2015–Jul 2016). FEW: River FEWs: Workshop to Explore the Nexus Between Food, Energy, and Water in a Large International River System. Funded by National Science Foundation. (UWSC8559). Total award $98,367.

Felkner, J. (Mar 2014–Feb 2016). Synchronizing Public and Private Investment in Cities: Evidence from Addis Ababa, Dar Es Salaam, Kigali, and Nairobi. Funded by The World Bank, World Bank Global Urban & Disaster Risk Management Uni. Total award $49,312.

Felkner, John Sames (PI), & Shaihk, Sabina (PI). (Sep 2012–Feb 2016). WSC-Category 1: Integrative Modeling of The Interactions, Connectivity, And Interdependence of Water Systems and Ecosystem Services in the Lower Mekong Basin. Funded by National Science Foundation. (1204609). Total award $149,972.

Selected Publications

Felkner, J., Lee, H., Shaikh, S., Kolata, A., & Binford, M. (2022). The Interrelated Impacts of Credit Access, Market Access and Forest Proximity on Livelihood Strategies in Cambodia. World Development, 155. doi:

  • Summary:  Using a survey of 2,417 households in 64 villages in four Provinces in Cambodia and satellite data on forest extent, we test hypotheses and quantify the relative contributions and first-order interactions effects of market and road access, forest access, and formal and informal financial credit access on household expenditures and livelihood incomes.

Chen, L., & Felkner, J. (2020). The Interaction Effects in the Relationship between Urban Form and Sustainable Transportation. International Review for Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development, 8, 4-17. doi:

  • Summary:  This study finds empirical evidence for the hypothesis that certain correlations between urban form and sustainable transportation outcomes are conditionally dependent on the interactions among urban form attributes, testing as a case study all cities in Florida.  Co-author Long Chen is a Post-Doctoral Researcher in the School of Architecture at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

Perez-Felkner, L., Felkner, J. S., Nix, S., & Magalhães, M. (2020). The puzzling relationship between international development and gender equity: The case of STEM postsecondary education in Cambodia. International Journal of Educational Development, 72, 102102. Retrieved from doi:10.1016/j.ijedudev.2019.102102

  • Summary:  This is the first known study to examine gender inequality in STEM in a developing country, Cambodia, and investigates how measures of women’s socioeconomic and gender equality affect their share of enrollment in STEM-related postsecondary educational fields.  Co-author institutional statues and titles:  Lara Perez-Felkner is an Associate Professor of Higher Education and Sociology at Florida State University; Samantha Nix is in the Office of Institutional Research at Florida State University; Melissa Magalhães is a Data Visualization & Quantitative Analysis Intern at United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

D’Aoust, O., Lall, S., Aguilar, J., Henderson, J. V., Felkner, J., & Bird, J. (2017). Scaling up and Coordinating Investments in Physical Structures and Infrastructure. In S. Lall, J. V. Henderson, & A. J. Venables (Eds.), Africa’s cities: Opening doors to the world. Washington, DC:  The World Bank.

  • Summary:  This study describes the challenge of sequencing the costs of developing housing, infrastructure and industrial areas in African cities given their generally low levels of road investment, as integrated urban planning and regulation with transport investments can improve commuting and transport efficiency, leading to lower greenhouse gas emissions, less traffic congestion, and more livable urban spaces.  Co-author institutional statutes and titles:  Olivia D’Aoust is a Senior Urban Economist at the World Bank; Somik Lall is a Lead Economist at the World Bank; Juliana Aguilar is an Economist at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago; Vernon Henderson is School Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics; Julia Bird is a Postdoctoral Research Economist at Oxford University.

Felkner, J., & Townsend, R. (2011). The Geographic Concentration of Enterprise in Developing Countries. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126(4), 2005-2061. Retrieved from doi:10.1093/qje/qjr046

Townsend, R., Felkner, J., & Tazhibayeva, K. (2009). Impact of climate change on rice production in Southeast Asia: Towards better farmer production functions. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 6(37), 372044. Retrieved from doi:10.1088/1755-1307/6/7/372044

Lall, S. V., Felkner, J., Wang, H. G., Fay, M., & Brown, D. (2008). Death of distance? Economic implications of infrastructure improvement in Russia. European Investment Bank (EIB) Papers, 13(2), 126-148.

von Hoffman, A., & Felkner, J. (2006). Cultural and demographic factors in urban decentralization in the United States – A historical overview. US Geological Survey Professional Paper, 1726, 13-24.

von Hoffman, A., & Felkner, J. (2006). Economic aspects of urban decentralization in historical perspective. US Geological Survey Professional Paper, 1726, 33-43.

Selected Completed Professional Reports:

“Economic Impact Evaluation of Road Improvements in the Republic of Georgia: Combining Double Differences, Propensity Score Matching and GIS Indices of Accessibility”, NORC at the University of Chicago (, funded by The Millennium Challenge Corporation (, August 2013.

“Qualitative Analysis of the Economic and Social Impacts of the SJ Road Improvement 2008-2010 in The Republic of Georgia: Report on Results of Focus Group Discussions (FGD) and In-Depth Interviews held in Samtskhe-Javakheti Regions in Republic of Georgia in winter 2012-2013”, NORC at the University of Chicago (, funded by The Millennium Challenge Corporation (, February 2013.

“Estimation of Economic Rates of Return (IRR) Using HDM-4 for The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact Road Improvements in Honduras”, NORC at the University of Chicago (, funded by The Millennium Challenge Corporation (, June 2012.

“Kenya Municipal Program, State of Cities Baseline Survey: Inception Report”, with Ray Struyk, Sarah Hughes and Santanu Pramanik. NORC at the University of Chicago (, funded by The Millennium Challenge Corporation (, July 2011.

“Economic Impact Evaluation Design of Road Improvement Projects, MCC Ghana Compact: Propensity Score Matching and Double Differences”, with Ray Struyk, George Caldwell and Kareem Kysia, NORC at the University of Chicago (, funded by The Millennium Challenge Corporation (, August 2009.

“Estimation and Simulation of Network-Wide Impacts on Shipping Costs in Sri Lanka For Alternative Hypothetical Infrastructure Improvement Scenarios: A Spatial Econometric Model”, with Somik Lall and Rohan Masakarola, 2009, The World Bank, World Bank Sustainable Development Network, 2009.

“Impact Evaluation Design, MCC Compact, Honduras: A Model-Based Approach Using GIS and Estimation of Travel-Time Improvements”, with Paul Gertler, George Caldwell and Varuni Dayaratna, NORC at the University of Chicago (, funded by The Millennium Challenge Corporation (, 2007.

Selected Invited Presentations:

Millennium Challenge Corporation (, Washington, DC, September 20, 2013. Invited to present results of HDM-4 NPV/IRR analysis of road improvements in Honduras, and economic impact evaluation of road improvements in The Republic of Georgia, for MCC peer-review workshop on road impact evaluations.

Center for Khmer Studies, Siem Reap, Cambodia, June 12, 2013. Invited to present at the Center for Khmer Studies ( on the Interdependence of Water Systems and Ecosystem Services in the Lower Mekong Basin, results of research funded by The National Science Foundation (NSF) Water Sustainability and Climate program (WSC, Solicitation 11-551, NSF Award 1204609):

Cuenta Del Milenio – Honduras, Tegucigalpa, May 2, 2013. Invited to present at the Cuenta Del Milenio – Honduras ( on Net Present Value (NPV)/Internal Rate of Return (IRR) analysis conducted on MCC road improvements in Honduras 2008-2011 using HDM-4.

Millennium Challenge Corporation (, Washington, DC, January 21 2011. Invited to present as a Panelist at the MCC Inaugural Impact Evaluation Conference. See:

Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), Cairo, Egypt, November 2010. Invited to present on methods for utilization of GIS in economic impact evaluation projects, and methods for calculating accessibility using GIS data.

Enterprise Initiative ( University of Chicago, January 20, 2009. Invited presentation: “Impact of Climate Change on Rice Production in Thailand”.

The World Bank, Europe and Central Asia Division, Washington D.C., June 2008. Invited presentation: research on Russia and Thailand.

World Bank China Conference on Chinese Economic Development, Beijing, China, October 2005. Invited presentation: paper “The Wealth of Villages: Spatial Analysis and Economic Modeling.”

Thai Chamber of Commerce University, Bangkok, Thailand, November 2005. Invited presentation: paper “Risk and Inequality in Southeast Asia.”

John Felkner

Associate Teaching Professor & MSP Program Director

Areas of Interest: International Planning, Planning in Developing Areas, Transportation and Environmental Planning in the Context of Global Rapid Urbanization and Economic Development

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