Students specializing in economics enjoy opportunities to interact with faculty and to gain practical experience in research. Each summer a number of students secure employment as research assistants or as summer research fellows. Course work plus practical paid experiences as a working economist assure our students have a significant advantage when choosing further studies or a long-term career.
Summer Research 2014
Honours economics student Ian Nason’s (’15) summer research project explored the reasons for the difference in the unemployment rate in the communities in Maine and New Brunswick on the US-Canada border. He received a Mount Allison University Summer Research Award to carry out his work.
“I am able to control for geography and culture because NB and Maine are so similar in terms of demographics, culture, and geography so any changes that are structural should just be due to differences in policies,” he says. “As for research, it can be a bit of a slog, but when you get over the hump and you find some cool things to talk about then it is very exciting.” To read more about Ian's research click here.
Summer Research 2013
Although there is large consensus among economist regarding fundamental economic relationships, there are still disagreements regarding other aspects of economic life—business cycles being one of them.
Fluctuations in early agricultural economies were mostly caused by exogenous shocks to the economy, namely wars, disease, and government decrees. Today’s developed economies, however, have a much more diverse production structure, engage in relatively few conflicts, and are mostly governed by multiparty-democratic governments which keep rogue leaders in check.
Given this new structure of developed economies, why are we are still witnessing swings in their output, including Canada’s. The question I intend to answer this summer is, “Are deviations of the market interest rate from society’s marginal rate of time preference responsible for the post-war business cycles of the Canadian economy? In other words, is there an endogenous factor that is responsible for Canada’s business cycles — mainly artificial credit expansion?” To answer this question I will analyse several macroeconomic variables will from the early 1960s until the present.
In rental housing markets in Canada, there are usually some apartments that are unoccupied (vacant), for a variety of reasons, and as a result, vacancy rates in Canada are almost always above zero. Furthermore, vacancy rates are rarely static over time. For example, over the past 26 years, the vacancy rate in Toronto has fluctuated between .1% and 5%. In Halifax, the fluctuation has been larger, from a low of .1% to a high of 9.5%.
While there can be significant fluctuation, it is widely-accepted that there exists some “natural” vacancy rate in a housing market, defined as the long-run equilibrium rate. When the prevailing vacancy rate is at par with the natural rate, it is assumed that inflation-adjusted rents in the subsequent time period will remain unchanged. Alternatively, deviations of the prevailing vacancy rate from the natural rate are presumed to cause changes in rents. This is referred to as the price-adjustment mechanism.
My research investigates the price-adjustment mechanism for 28 Canadian cities from 1985 to 2011, estimates the natural rates, and examines the reasons for which these rates vary from city to city. These questions have practical importance from a policy perspective. The vacancy rate is used as an indicator of the state of rental housing markets, and as a consequence, policy is directly and indirectly linked to vacancy rates. A better understanding of price-adjustment mechanism provides a stronger foundation for reasonable policy decisions.