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Stephens, Heather

Associate Professor of Resource Economics and Management 

Director of the Regional Research Institute (RRI)

Heather Stephens is currently an Associate Professor of Resource Economics and Management and serves as Director of the Regional Research Institute (RRI) at West Virginia University. Her research is focused on examining issues related to regional economic development and the differences in the impact of policies across regions. Her current and past research has examined questions related to energy, environmental quality, entrepreneurship, health, and regional growth. Her prior work has been published in journals that include the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Environmental and Resource Economics, Growth and Change, Journal of Regional Science, Resource and Energy Economics, and Small Business Economics. She serves on the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) Advisory Council and as the chair of the technical advisory committee for the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development (NERCRD). She received her Ph.D. and an M.B.A. from The Ohio State University and has a B.A. in Economics and Public Policy Studies from Duke University. Previously, Dr. Stephens was an Assistant Professor of Economics and the Director of Economic Research at California State University, Long Beach, and also has prior experience working for a U.S. Congressman, on strategic partnership development for a Fortune 100 company, as a local economic development director, and on regional economic development and energy-related issues at a university-based applied research institute.


  • Keeler, Zachary T. (PhD Graduate) and Heather M. Stephens. 2022. The capitalization of metro rail access in urban housing markets. Real Estate Economics. DOI: 10.1111/1540-6229.12411
  • Cary, Michael (PhD Candidate) and Heather M. Stephens. 2022. “Gendered Consequences of COVID-19 Among Professional Tennis Players.” Journal of Sports Economics.

    DOI: 10.1177/15270025221120591

  • Stephens, Heather M., Elizabeth A. Mack, and John Mann. 2022. “Broadband and Entrepreneurship: An Empirical Assessment of the Connection between Broadband Availability and New Business Activity across the United States.” Telematics and Informatics. DOI: 10.1016/j.tele.2022.101873.

  • Haggerty, Treah, Heather M. Stephens, Shaylee A. Peckens, Erika Bodkins, Michael Cary (PhD candidate), Geri A. Dino, and Cara L. Sedney. Forthcoming. “Telemedicine Versus In-Person Primary Care: Impact on Visit Completion Rate in a Rural Appalachian Population with Significant Health Disparities.” Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

  • Taylor, Samuel (PhD graduate), Heather M. Stephens, and Daniel Grossman. 2022. “The Opioid Crisis and Economic Distress: Consequences for Population Change.” Journal of Regional Science 62: 541–577.

  • Hodges, Collin (PhD graduate) and Heather M. Stephens. 2022. “Does Municipal Incorporation Always Increase Property Values?” Growth and Change 3(1): 200-220

  • Keeler, Zachary (PhD graduate), Heather M. Stephens, and Brad Humphreys. 2021. “The amenity value of sports facilities: Evidence from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.” Journal of Sports Economics 22(7): 799-822. DOI: 10.1177/15270025211018258

  • Keeler, Zachary (PhD graduate) and Heather M. Stephens. 2020. “Valuing Shale Development in Resource-Dependent Communities.” Resources Policy 69: 101821. DOI: 10.1016/j.resourpol.2020.101821

  • Patrick, Carlianne, and Heather M. Stephens. 2020. “Incentivizing the Missing Middle: The role of economic development policy.” Economic Development Quarterly. 34(2): 154-170. DOI: 10.1177/0891242420907160
  • Dobis, Elizabeth A., Heather M. Stephens, Mark Skidmore, and Stephan F. Goetz. 2020. “Explaining the Spatial Variation in American Life Expectancy.” Social Science and Medicine 246, 112759. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.112759
  • Stephens, Heather M. 2019. “Understanding U.S. College Graduate Migration.” Journal of Geographical Systems. DOI: 10.1007/s10109-019-00310-5
  • Stephens, Heather M. and Amanda Weinstein. 2019. “Household valuation of energy development in amenity-rich regions.” Growth and Change 50:1375-1410. DOI: 10.1111/grow.12335
  • Cai, Zhengyu, Heather M. Stephens, John Winters. 2019. “Motherhood, Migration, and Self-Employment of College Graduates.” Small Business Economics 53(3): 611-629. DOI: 10.1007/s11187-019-00177-2
  • Harger, Kaitlyn, Amanda Ross, and Heather M. Stephens. 2019. “What Matters the Most for Economic Development? Evidence from the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund.” Papers in Regional Science 98: 883-904. DOI: 10.1111/pirs.12396
  • Stephens, Heather M. and John Deskins. 2018. “Economic Distress and Labor Market Participation.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics. 100(5): 1336–1356. DOI: 10.1093/ajae/aay065
  • Goetz, Stephan, Mark Partridge, and Heather M. Stephens. 2018. “The Economic Status of Rural America in the President Trump Era and Beyond.” Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy 40(1): 97–118, DOI: 10.1093/aepp/ppx061
  • Spiller, Elisheba, Heather M. Stephens, and Yong Chen. 2017. “Understanding the Heterogeneous Effects of Gasoline Taxes Across Income and Location.” Resource and Energy Economics 50: 74-90. DOI: 10.1016/j.reseneeco.2017.07.002
  • Patrick, Carlianne, Heather M. Stephens, and Amanda Weinstein. 2016. “Where are all the self-employed women? Push and pull factors influencing female labor market decisions.” Small Business Economics. 46(3): 365-390. DOI: 10.1007/s11187-015-9697-2
  • Stephens, Heather M. and Mark D. Partridge. 2015. “Lake Amenities, Environmental Degradation, and Great Lakes Regional Growth.” International Regional Science Review 38: 61-91. DOI: 10.1177/0160017613496632
  • Spiller, Elisheba, Heather M. Stephens, Christopher Timmins, and Allison Smith. 2014. “The Effect of Gasoline Taxes and Public Transit Investments on Driving Patterns.” Environmental and Resource Economics 59(4): 633-657. DOI: 10.1007/s10640-013-9753-9
  • Stephens, Heather M., Alessandra Faggian, and Mark D. Partridge. 2013. “Innovative entrepreneurship and economic growth in lagging regions.” Journal of Regional Science 53(5): 778-812. DOI: 10.1111/jors.12019
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