Assignment (+link to assignment page)
||assignment posted by
||date due (tentative)
||Unit(s) of analysis
||suggested page length
||percent of grade
|5. Final Project
||provide an integrated profile and analysis of the two places
||Presentation Apr 14 - 19; paper version Apr 26 (end of the day Tuesday)
||estimate: 12-24 pages of text plus reference and thematic maps, graphs, tables
Comparative Economic Analysis/Compendium
assignment is to create a profile of the economic conditions of two different neighborhoods, cities and/or regions, and explain how they got that way.
Imagine giving the report to someone who wants to quickly understand the economic
structure, trends and origins of a place. Make it user-friendly: how
can you quickly provide the reader with an overview of existing conditions, comparisons
to other places, explanations of the reasons for the way the economy developed,
and an historical understanding of economic restructuring? It is neither
simply a collection of data nor a theoretical paper, but instead a hybrid:
use economic theories to help explain patterns in the data. This assignment
combines primary and secondary data analysis and presentation, economic history,
detective work, archival work, interviews, observation, photography, videos, oral
history, etc. All group projects should begin with a basic profile
of their area economy; you may then examine in more detail one or more specific
aspects of the local economies. Pick small or specific enough locations to allow
for a detailed, manageable project. Be mindful of the boundaries you select,
since they will affect the ease or difficulty of finding economic and socio-demographic
data. Grading: your project will be evaluated based on its creativity,
clarity, intelligence, accuracy and completeness in documenting the local or regional
This project has two parts:
- a comparative profile of two local economies (or regional
- an examination and analysis of selected economic development
strategies in the two locations
1. to document the existing economic conditions (problems and assets) of two
local (or regional) economies
document their underlying economic structures
explain the historical origins of # 1 and #2.
5a: Form Groups (by Jan 20)
5b: Groups submit a 1
page description of the two locations, with precise borders for each location,
the logic of the selection, and any specific economic issues
or policies of particular interest. (Jan 27)
5c. Each group meets with instructor to discuss progress and structure of report (early March)
5d. Presentations (Apr 14 - 19)
5e. Final Reports due (Apr 26)
Work in teams of 2-3 students. You are to turn in a single, integrated write-up. All group members receive the same grade. (We will expect a level of work from the final projects that corresponds to the size of your team.)
Questions to consider include:
- Develop a brief economic profile or portrait of the place. Depending on the location, some of the following questions might help you structure your profile:
- What are the main types of economic activity?
- How economically healthy or struggling is the place?
- What is the geographic scale of these activities? (e.g., local, regional, national, international)
- What are the demographics of the people involved in this activity (from the production, distribution and consumption sides)?
- What are the physical manifestations of this activity (e.g., building type and quality, etc.), and how does the build environment give clues about changes in this activity (e.g., gentrification, transition, decline)?
- What businesses are weathering this economic crisis the best and worst? What signs do you see of it? Interviews? Sales? Activity, observation, etc.
- Does the local economy seem to be quite stable over time or changing at a hurried pace?
of Existing Conditions:
- MOST IMPORTANT: emphasize analysis, not just descriptive statistics. It is important to write an analytical narrative rather than just compiling a
fragmented set of data. Help the reader understand the economy, its
structure, its main challenges. All reports should have a strong conclusion
that pulls it all together. Avoid being merely descriptive. The product is not just a statistical compendium, but instead an analytically rigorous profile.
the importance of the economic data; demote the importance of the rest
(e.g., physical characteristics; these should serve the larger more
focused purpose of informing the economic analysis.)
- Good graphs are important. see these guidelines. Be sure to include full citations on data, tables, graphs, maps, etc.
- Take advantage of the comparative structure. Think about why are comparisons useful and when
they are not. How can you set up graphs and data tables to compare, esp. when
the units or scales are different? (e.g., pop in two cities of very different
sizes, such as Buffalo and Duluth).
original sources where possible -- that is, rather than reprint the population
numbers in a local city report, go back to the original source (e.g., the 2000
US Census) to get the data.
* photographs, slides, observation, graphics, drawings, interviews with people
on the street, expert interviews, primary and secondary information, statistics,
opinion polls, etc.
* You may augment your economic analysis with a broader examination of the architectural,
social, and environmental conditions and history as well, but do focus on
the structure and dynamics of the local economy.
How it got that way:
* who were the key agents? (firms, planners, government, etc.)
* socio-economic forces: business cycles, suburbanization, depressions,
technological change, globalization, etc.
(where possible, provide not only most recent data for subject area, but also
comparisons back in time and across space -- e.g., a comparison city, the larger
county, state or national data). [see Bendavid-Val, Avrom. 1991. Regional
and Local Economic Analysis for Practitioners. 4th ed. (New York: Praeger
Publishers) for a good overview.]
Selected elements (not complete,
but representative). Note: you may not be able to
find all of these listed below. Also: this is simply a long list of possible items. There is NO NEED to find all of these. Keep your focus on developing a concise portrait of your two local/regional economies, structured by several thematic questions, using data selectively and strategically to illustrate your main points and insights. Link data to analysis.
by sex, race, age
ancestry, migration status
measures of wealth, income, poverty and inequality
components of population change (Pop. change = births -
deaths + inmigration - outmigration)
employment by industry
employment by occupation
commuting and labor-market areas
Activity by Firm, Sector
profits, productivity, output
share of GDP -- if available
major geographic features e. social-economic
geography, including regional infrastructure:major transport
structures: airports, marine terminals, etc.
the relative position of the city in the larger regional,
national, global economic hierarchy (e.g., central place theory)
public revenues and expenditures
trade and labor organizations
laws, programs and policies affecting economic development
Assets (overlaps with previous categories)
thematic (representation of data)
both local and the city in its regional context
Where possible, include not only the most recent data, but also data from past
years (e.g., 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010) Pay attention to business cycles.
TWO: Analysis of Economic Development
If Part One is a broad profile of the local economies, then Part Two is a
more focused examination of one or more economic development policies for the
two locations. This reflects the course's focus on both understanding
how local economies work (Part One) and the ways in which one can intervene
in local economies -- for better and for worse (Part Two). Some groups may decide
to focus on a few specific programs, while others may decide to examine the
broader scope of the city's programs overall. You may find it easier to give
an overall summary of a smaller city's economic development strategy (such as
for Ypsilanti), but better to focus on a few specific programs in a larger and
more complex city (such as Los Angeles). Examples of specific programs/policies:
the politics and economics of a new casino; the impact of a new sports
stadium; a micro-credit loan program; a community development association;
a retraining program for unemployed auto workers; a Main Street revitalization
effort; a dam project in a developing country; etc. You might
also examine the community's efforts to redefine and market itself.
Address the following
- What were the main goals
of the effort?
- Was the effort successful?
- Was it cost-effective?
- What were the distributional
- Who supported and/or
opposed the effort and why? (That is, what coalitions formed?)
- What broader economic
development assumptions did the effort draw upon (e.g., export-base theory,
multipliers, linkages, human capital development, etc.)?
- Can the effort be applied
to other communities?
of Data and Other Information
Use government statistics (take advantage of the U-M library resources and reference
librarians, especially at the Graduate Library and their government documents
collection on the second floor), class readings, any other readings you can find,
newspaper stories, interviews, archives, etc. (Be sure to properly
cite any source materials.) Good places to start are the reference
librarians; ASI/SRI; city planning offices (which often compile data);
US Census publications; books and/or articles on the location. Groups
are encouraged to share information, sources, and creative ideas for documentation
may be gaps or other shortcomings in the data e.g., missing data; inconsistent
years. This is common, and should not be seen as an obstacle.
But be sure to note these instances.
Here is a partial compilation of data sources.
aspects to consider:
of the data
data from the web
| 1. time (single point in time, comparative statics, time-series)
2. space (geographic location: e.g., city, county, MSA, state, country)
see UP504 discussion of US
3. unit of analysis (e.g., person, household, firm, municipality)
-- different data sets will use different units of analysis.
4. variables (e.g., annual income, age, occupation)
be sure to distinguish
between employed residents (based on people who live in the city -- some
of whom many commute to other cities) and local employees (people
who work in the city -- some of whom many commute from other cities).
For relatively closed labor markets (such as Hawaii) these two will be
almost the same. But for more open economies (such as Ann Arbor), they
The US Census decennial
census (e.g., 2000) collects data on where people live; the economic
census generally collects data on where people work. (see Blakely
and Bradshaw on this issue)
e.g., from html or
pdf or text (ASCII) files
We have set aside two class sessions (April 14, 19) for presentations.
Depending on the total number of groups, each group will have about 15-20 minutes
for formal presentations and to respond to questions. Given the short amount
of time (and the large amount of data and information you have gathered), concentrate
your efforts on presenting the main themes, controversies and challenges. (Refer
classmates with an interest in details to your written version.)
With 10 groups, each group has 10 minutes (presentation) + 5 minutes (Q&A) = 15 minutes total. To ensure fairness across groups, I will strictly enforce time limits.
for Written Report
Suggested Length for entire report: approximately 12-24 pages of double-spaced text (not counting tables, charts, maps and other visuals).
This limit is flexible. I put a relatively modest page number to
make you focus on the main points and not get buried in a sea of data. Obviously, larger groups will create
longer reports. Focus your final project on providing a rigorous, insightful analysis of your two cities. Get inside the city/metro economy: what makes it tick (or not tick)? Link contemporary economic developments and challenges to the city's history (e.g., how did the local economic history shape its present, its trajectory)? Keep your narrative focused through your central questions/theses: end on several strong conclusions.
What to turn in:
All groups should upload a copy of your report (either Word or pdf format) to ctools. Please also turn in a paper copy to me. (If you are out-of-town or otherwise a trip to north campus is problematic, you can instead email me a copy.)
IMPORTANT FINAL WORD: Use complete and correct citations (really small footnotes or references fine -- or perhaps use footnotes on one page and have a separate "sources" page). Refer to all sources used (including data, maps, images, tables, graphs, course readings and materials found on the Internet). Please familiarize yourself with standard practice of academic integrity in coursework. --> See this link for complete information.