In Canada, both the federal and provincial governments regularly monitor
regional differences in various variables. The federal government needs to make sure
that its policies are not having unanticipated unequal effects on Canadians living in
different regions of the country, and needs to be prepared for provincial demands to
mitigate any perceived unfairness in federal policies. Similarly, provincial governments
want to keep informed about the performance of their province’s economy relative to
those of the other provinces, so that they can respond to any deficiencies in
performance either by modifying their own policies or seeking help from the federal
Your task for this assignment is to retrieve data and prepare a brief report on
disparities between provinces or urban areas in some indicator (or indicators) related to
welfare. Your written report should consist of 4-6 pages of double-spaced text, plus
graphs and references. More details are provided below. I recommend that you use
Excel to do calculations and prepare graphs. As registered students, you have free
access to both Excel and MS Word. If you have not already installed Microsoft Office,
here is a link to a page where you can find instructions for downloading it:
• September 22, 2021, 11:59 pm, Ottawa time: Please indicate your preferred
topics by completing the survey on Brightspace by this deadline. A maximum of
four teams will be permitted to work on any given topic. I will try to match you
with a partner who is interested in the same topic as you. If you fail to inform me
of your preferred topics by the deadline, I will assign you a topic. If you know
someone else in the class and would especially like to work with that person,
please let me know and I will match you with that person. If you have a preferred
partner, you should decide together which of the topics you would prefer. Then
only one of you will need to complete the survey (if both of you do, try to make
sure that your preferences with respect to topics are the same). Teams that
complete the survey early are more likely to be assigned one of their preferred
topics. The penalty for missing this deadline is simply that you will be less likely
to be able to work on one of your most preferred topics. The sooner you indicate
your preferences with respect to topics and partners, the sooner you can get
started on the assignment.
• October 5, 2021, 11:59 pm, Ottawa time: On the Assignment 1 page in
Brightspace, upload a PDF or Word file containing your written report. You
should also upload the Excel file that contains your data and calculations. You
should insert your graphs and tables into your report; this is easy to do using
Copy and Paste if you are using Excel and Word.
This assignment is to be a team project. Having you work in teams is, admittedly,
one way to reduce the volume of marking required. However, this is not the only reason
for asking you to work in teams. When employers today check references, one of the
things they regularly inquire about is whether or not the candidate is able to function
well as part of a team. Doing assignments in groups will thus help to prepare you for the
working world. For this assignment, teams will consist of two individuals.
What to do
Once you have been assigned a topic, you will need to locate and retrieve the
data necessary to address your topic. For most topics, Statistics Canada is the best
data source. You should retrieve data for as long a time period as possible. If you
cannot find at least 25 years’ of data on your chosen topic, please let me know and I will
try to help you find more data. Annual data are likely to be best for this type of analysis,
because seasonal fluctuations in monthly or quarterly data may make it harder to see
trends. If you cannot find annual data, please let me know.
Each report must include the following elements:
1) An introduction explaining what you are examining and why it is of interest.
2) A brief description of your data source(s).
3) Summary statistics measuring the magnitude of regional or urban disparities
(e.g., SD, CV, MAD, etc.). These summary statistics should be presented in
graphs so as to illustrate how they have changed over time.
4) Graphs illustrating the pattern of regional or urban disparities and how it has
changed over time. This means doing calculations to illustrate where each
province/urban area is relative to the average, and then presenting the results
5) A discussion of your findings.
6) A conclusion that summarizes your most interesting findings.
7) A reference list that includes all data sources (including the date each one was
accessed) and any additional references consulted.
Note that the above list does not necessarily constitute an outline for your report;
items 3 and 4 should definitely be integrated with your discussion. A report this short
does not necessarily need subsections, although you may divide your report into
subsections if you wish. In your discussion, you should not only describe what actually
happened, but also consider the interpretation and implications of your findings. Why
are they of interest? How might they influence the behaviour of Canadians? Can you
offer any insights into why things evolved the way they did? Do you see any implications
You are also welcome to compare your results to those presented in the course
notes, as well as those of published studies, if you can find any related to your topic.
However, it is not necessary to look up previously published research for this
assignment. Your discussion should focus on your own findings and the issue you are
Marking of reports
Your mark for this assignment will depend on all the elements of the report.
However, you should know that the calculation, presentation, and discussion of
summary statistics will account for approximately 25%-30% of your mark. Similarly, the
calculation, presentation, and discussion of the magnitude of regional disparities will
also account for approximately 25%-30% of your mark. If you do not retrieve your
own data you will receive a mark of zero.
Format of report
As far as the format of your report is concerned, please double-space and use a
12-point font. Please indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches (1.27 cm), and
do not insert any extra blank lines between paragraphs. Page margins should be 1 inch
(2.54 cm) on all sides. Do not forget to include page numbers. A title page with your
names, student numbers, and topic would be a good idea.
For references, please follow the Chicago style (not APA style). Here are some
resources to help you correctly cite material:
• Link on library web page to guides for widely-used citation styles:
• Link to Statistics Canada’s reference manual on how to cite their products:
Please note that you must also provide a source for any material copied from the
internet, an article, or a book, including graphs and tables. Your data sources should be
included in your list of references (see the next section for more tips on how to
document data sources).
Documentation of data
Your report must include detailed documentation of your data sources.
Documentation of data sources is often a problem in published economic work, despite
the fact that conclusions can be altered dramatically by data-related mistakes.1 You
must provide enough information that someone else could easily retrieve exactly the
same data that you did; this information can be included in your list of references,
depending on its format. For electronic data, it is important that you report the date the
1 For a discussion of some of the problems resulting from poor data documentation, see Dewald, W., J.
Thursby, and R. Anderson. “Replication in Empirical Economics: The Journal of Money, Credit, and
Banking Project.” American Economic Review 76 (1986): 587-603.
data were retrieved, or the date the data were last updated by the statistical. Also, do
not forget to describe any data manipulation you had to do before calculating measures
of regional disparities. For example, maybe you had to divide your original variable by
population to obtain a per capita measure, or divide a nominal variable by a price index
to obtain a real value.