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Celene Chen

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Welcome to WGSS WEDNESDAYS, a monthly feature celebrating WGSS students from all over the University. Learn about the work done in WGSS courses and the fascinating students engaged in this work. The first WGSS WEDNESDAY features WGSS minor and Economics major Celene Chen, who has taken the intersectional feminist framework that her WGSS minor has provided and turned it towards economics and urban housing– particularly, how increases in college student populations impact housing (un)affordability in urban areas. Read more about Celene’s ongoing research below. You can also find links to her podcast and a forthcoming journal article! 

 Celene Chen is an Economics Major and WGSS minor. She is especially passionate in researching housing affordability, segregation, and ethnic enclaves in urban areas. With her WGSS minor, she has been able to explore additional facets of these research interests past quantitative econometric analysis. In Gender, Race, and Medicine (WMNS/AFAM/HIST 1225), taught by Dr. Bailey, she was able to create the podcast How Boston Institutions Impact the Health of Neighborhoods: Tufts Medical Center and Northeastern University with Paulina Demirev. In the podcast, Celene and Paulina explored how Tufts Medical Center’s expansion impacted the health of Chinatown residents and how Northeastern University’s expanding off-campus student population has increased financial stress on families, contributing to worse health outcomes. Through the class and the podcast, Celene learned of how institutional expansion can impact the health of marginalized communities, and she used this knowledge to inform her economic research.

In the paper The Impact of an Urban Neighborhood’s Demographic Characteristics on Renters’ Housing Unaffordability, forthcoming in the Columbia Economics Review, Celene explored how increases in college student populations and high-paid workers increases housing unaffordability in a dozen American cities. The inclusion of college student populations in this paper stemmed from the research performed for the Gender, Race, and Medicine podcast. Celene was able to expand on her research between Northeastern and its surrounding neighborhoods to a nationwide study of cities and their college student populations. As was the case with Northeastern and the surrounding community, she found a connection between college student populations and housing unaffordability. When college students increased by 1% in the cities surveyed, housing unaffordability increased by 2.05%. The journal will be published by the end of April and her article will be available here.

Through the WGSS minor, Celene has learned of issues that are vitally important and relevant to marginalized populations, such as institutional expansion impacting one’s health. With the WGSS minor, she has been able to perform meaningful research. By combining the institutional and intersectional understanding that a WGSS minor brings, Celene has guided her Economics research to focus on issues that reflect racial and power inequities.


Published On: April 11, 2018