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TURB 324 Urban & Regional Economics -- Harrington: Assignments

Short piece of empirical regional research

Explore the trends of a regional* (metropolitan) economy over some time period (for example, the most recent year for which you can get data, and 20 years before). How has the major sectoral composition* changed? What economic sectors are very over-represented in the region (compared to the nation)? Have those over-represented sectors grown faster or more slowly than the region as a whole? What are a few basic geographic trends in the region -- has the central city lost or gained its share of the region's population? If sub-regions* can be identified, what are the relative growth dynamics of the sub-regions?

A major purpose and challenge of this assignment is to find and manipulate economic data on a metropolitan area in two time periods.  Therefore, the quality of your data and the completeness with which you cite your sources are key elements.  Please create custom tables (rather than scanning and inserting huge tables that have much more information than you're using.  I'm not thinking this would be a long paper -- on the order of 2-3 tables and 1000 words.

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*"Sector" means broad industry category, such as Finance/Insurance/Real Estate; durable goods manufacturing;  or healthcare services:  basically, the one-digit level of the NAICS.  "Region" means a metropolitan area of a country.   "Sub-region" means any standard subdivision of the region, such as the Seattle-Everett vs. Tacoma metro districts within the Seattle-Tacoma-Everett MSA.

Short piece of urban research

In this paper, explore some "urban" economic issue within one urban area -- such as

  • housing costs, homelessness, and government programs to increase housing availability; or
  • the state and development of the public transit system; or
  • the 10-20 year trend in poverty rates across districts of the central city OR across municipalities in the region; or
  • the changing geographic distribution of economic activity in the central city.

You might want to focus this on the issue about which you read and presented on May 3rd -- but this paper will focus on empirical information on one urban area.  You can rely on published articles to ferret out empirical trends, though if you can identify sources of statistical data, that would be good.

As to scope -- just scratch the surface.  I'm looking for some academic basis (e.g., definitions and probably cause-effect relationships as provided by at least one academic article such as you read for may 3rd), and then some information about how this issue is manifested in some particular city.  I'd think that 2-5 academic articles would suffice -- 2 if you use Census or other sources to get additional empirical information;  4-5 if you're relying on authors' articles for your sense of empirical trends.  ~1000 words.