Faculty Research and Publications
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- ItemAccess and barriers to postsecondary education: evidence from the youth in transition survey(Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education, 2015) Finnie, Ross; Wismer, Andrew; Mueller, Richard E.We exploit the Youth in Transition Survey, Cohort A, to investigate access and barriers to postsecondary education (PSE). We first look at how access to PSE by age 21 is related to family characteristics, including family income and parental education. We find that the effects of the latter significantly dominate those of the former. Among the 25% of all youths who do not access PSE, 23% of this group state that they had no PSE aspirations and 43% report no barriers. Only 22% of the 25% who do not access PSE (or 5.5% of all youths in our sample) claim that “finances” constitute a barrier. Further analysis suggests that affordability per se is an issue in only a minority of those cases where finances are cited, suggesting that the real problem for the majority of those reporting financial barriers may be that they do not perceive PSE to be of sufficient value to be worth pursuing: “it costs too much” may mean “it is not worth it” rather than “I cannot afford to go.” Our general conclusion is that cultural factors are the principal determinants of PSE participation. Policy implications are discussed.
- ItemBifurcation of a rural-urban regional partnership: a study of hidden dynamics(Rural Development Institute, Brandon University, 2015) Nicol, Lorraine A.; Nicol, Christopher J.Region-based solutions present a promising avenue to addressing contemporary challenges facing municipalities. But regional formations require the messy reworking of networks of power among multiple stakeholders, often leading to power struggles. Challenges can be compounded when a rural-urban dimension is added to such an undertaking. This study examined the hidden power dynamics of a case involving 18 rural and urban municipalities in the Calgary region of Alberta called the Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP). In 2005 these municipalities voluntarily embarked on a major city-region initiative involving land-use planning and water sharing. However, by 2009 four rural municipalities had left the CRP, bifurcating the partnership along rural and urban lines. The dynamics of this case were traced through time and viewed through the lens of Foucault’s concepts of discourse and mechanisms of exclusion as well as Hajer’s concepts of metaphors, story-lines and discourse coalitions. The study demonstrates how mechanisms of exclusion led to the creation of dominant discourses, the formation of coalitions around counter-discourses, and the eventual disintegration of the rural-urban dimension of the partnership.
- ItemCertification, completion, and the wages of Canadian registered apprentices(Statistics Canada, 2012) Laporte, Christine; Mueller, Richard E.Using the 2007 National Apprenticeship Survey (NAS), this research paper estimates the earnings functions of individuals who completed or discontinued a registered apprenticeship program. Controlling for observed demographic, labour market, and employer characteristics correlated with the two apprenticeship states, it finds earnings differences of approximately 20%. The paper also disaggregates apprentices into four groups on the basis of program completion and certification in order to refine the wage comparisons.
- ItemChallenges and potential adaptation strategies of rural water co-ops: an Alberta case study(Rural Development Institute, Brandon University, 2018) Nicol, Lorraine A.; Nicol, Christopher J.With roots going back decades, rural co-operative water systems play an important role in rural water management on the Prairies. But some of these co-operatives, especially those adjacent to large and growing urban centres, are facing significant challenges. This study focuses on water co-operatives within Rocky View County, a rural municipality adjacent to the city of Calgary. The County is experiencing significant water demand pressures from regional population growth. However, under Alberta’s water licensing allocation system, increased demand in the Bow River Basin—where the County is situated—cannot be met by acquiring additional water licenses. This study presents a preliminary exploration into the views of three groups: water managers—co-operatives as well as private systems, housing developers, and Rocky View County councillors. The views gathered relate to the extent of the water challenges, the current and future ability to manage them, potential consequences, and possible solutions. Key findings are water managers’ expressed lack of confidence in adapting to water challenges and a lack of common understanding amongst the three groups as to the seriousness and consequence of those challenges. In meeting the challenges, a solution which presents the greatest support is the development of a regional umbrella water management organization.
- ItemThe completion behavior of registered apprentices in Canada: who continues, who quits, and who completes programs?(SpringerOpen, 2013) Laporte, Christine; Mueller, Richard E.Background: The number of registered apprentices in Canada more than doubled between 1995 and 2007, yet successful completion of apprenticeship programs increased by only about one-third as much. Uncovering the factors related to low completion rates is a necessary first step to ensuring that today’s skilled labour is replaced in the future. Methods: This study utilizes a series of multinomial probit models and the 2007 National Apprenticeship Survey (NAS) to investigate the completion behaviour of individuals enrolled in apprenticeship programs. These behaviours include continuing, discontinuing (or quitting), and completing programs. The NAS contains detailed demographic information regarding respondents’ backgrounds and the characteristics of apprenticeship programs. Results: Program completion is positively related to a variety of demographic characteristics, including being married and having completed at least a high school education prior to beginning an apprenticeship. Males and females have similar completion probabilities. Completion is negatively related to time in the apprenticeship program (beyond the normal program length) and the number of employers during training. Type of technical training and having a journeyperson always present enhance the probability of completion. The regional unemployment rate has little effect on whether an individual completes an apprenticeship program or not. There are also large provincial and trade group differences. Conclusions: Although this research has identified a number of factors correlated with apprenticeship completion, further research could address the benefits of completion such as wages and probability of employment. A more detailed examination of the variety of obstacles encountered by apprentices during training may also be useful in redesigning programs to enhance completion.
- ItemDoes the Statue of Liberty still face out?: the diversion of foreign students from the United States to Canada in the post 9/11 period(Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education, 2009) Mueller, Richard E.The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have resulted in the increased scrutiny of both immigrants and non-immigrants entering the United States. The latter group includes students who enter the country on temporary visas to complete programs of higher education. Depending on the source, the number of foreign students in the United States has remained constant or fallen since 2001, and there has been a large decline among students from predominantly Muslim countries. Canada, by contrast, has relaxed its entry requirements for some foreign students and there has been a concerted effort among Canadian universities to increase foreign student enrolment. We find that the number of foreign students in Canada did increase following 9/11, especially those from predominantly Muslim countries. We discuss some of the implications of this increase in foreign students for Canadian universities and the Canadian labour market. Although these results support the hypothesis that changes in U.S. immigration policy are responsible, causality cannot be inferred from our data. This underlines the need for better data to adequately address the post-secondary education choices of international students.
- ItemMale-female earnings diffentials in Canada: where in the earnings distribution do they exist?(2009) Mueller, Richard E.The gender pay gap is the topic of countless papers in the economics and social science literature. Its study can be traced back at least as far as the Old Testament (Gunderson, 2006), and debates on the issue in the media and elsewhere often generate much more heat than light. For policy purposes, it is converse that is needed most. This research will use the SLID from 1996 and 2005 to determine (1) how the average gender pay gap has evolved over this decade, (2) if there are differences in the gender pay gap at various points of the pay distribution, and (3) if there have been changes in gender pay at these points in the pay distribution over this period. We “link” this current research with the previous Canadian literature on the subject using the ubiquitous Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition, followed by an extension of this technique which explicitly addresses the explained and unexplained part of the pay gap at different points along the pay distribution. We find that the adjusted mean hourly wage gap for females has increased about one percentage point between 1996 and 2005 to about 89 per cent of the male hourly wage. The wage gap differs depending on which range of the wage distribution is being considered, and is sensitive to the choice of wage measure.
- ItemNorth American migration: returns to skill, border effects, and mobility costs(MIT Press, 2004) Hunt, Gary L.; Mueller, Richard E.Utilizing a utility-maximizing, Roy-type, discrete choice model of worker location in Canadian provinces and U.S. states that incorporates returns to skill, amenities, fixed costs, distance, language, and border effects, we find that individuals with higher skills migrate to areas with higher returns and that the 49th parallel attenuates migration. Simulations indicate that equalizing returns in the two countries has a modest effect on cross-country migration; however, reductions in border effects tend to have large nonlinear effects on it. Our results confirm the qualitative results of previous research emphasizing the importance of returns to skill and border effects in migration decisions.
- ItemThe policy objectives of a biofuel industry in Canada: an assessment(M D P I A G, 2012) Le Roy, Danny G.; Klein, Kurt K.Canada has a huge stock of biomass resources, which provides a basis (and a temptation) for development of a major bio-fuels industry. Both federal and provincial governments have engaged in a wide array of subsidies, mandates, and other measures to stimulate production and consumption of biofuels. As a result, biofuels has become a growth industry in Canada with production of ethanol almost 10 times higher than it was ten years earlier. However, this has come at considerable cost to taxpayers. Increased biofuel production has resulted in minimal reduction in greenhouse gases, short run (but not long run) increases in net farm income (that benefited grain and oilseed producers but hurt livestock producers), large increases in the prices of farm land due to the higher grain and oilseed prices, and minimal impacts on rural economic diversification.
- ItemWage differentials of males and females in same-sex and different-sex couples in Canada, 2006-2010(University of Alberta Press, 2014) Mueller, Richard E.This paper utilizes five cycles of the General Social Survey in consecutive years from 2006 through 2010 to address the issue of differential wages amongst members of same-sex couples compared to their counterparts in different-sex couples. We find that men in gay couples have wages that are statistically indistinguishable from those of males in heterosexual relationships. By contrast, a sizeable and statistically significant earnings premium exists for lesbians in same-sex couples