The Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) operated between 1981 and 1986 as a unit within the Faculty of Arts. Initiated with a grant from the then federal Department of Health and Welfare, ISER had two objectives:
- To rehabilitate the MINCOME Manitoba database, by formatting the data in research ready formats as well as prepare documentation to enable researchers across Canada to access and use the information.
- To support social sciences research in the Faculty of Arts and at the university.
During its five year existence ISER completed many initiatives comprising
- Mincome data development
- Opinion polls
- Methodological advice
- Selected research
- Western Economic Review
Mincome Data Development
The electronic archives from the Manitoba Basic Annual Experiment required extensive reformatting from the PDP-11 structure to IBM-360 standards. Much of the documentation was cursory and partial, requiring reverse engineering to align data to code book descriptions. The data archives became available to researchers in 1983 and resulted finally completing the original research mandate of Mincome. After 1993 research using Mincome data entered a hiatus
In 2015, Mincome data were restructured to Excel formats, increasing access. Installed on the University of Manitoba Libraries Dataverse system, Mincome data are supporting a new phase of research into the basic income. For more information go here.
In the fall of 1983 ISER initiated a series of regular telephone surveys on a range social and economic issues. Raising the profile of the Institute was one goal, but increasing the level of public discourse on important policy issues also framed the objectives. These surveys, conducted by telephone, benefited from important features of the survey research “landscape” in Manitoba at the time (1983 – 85). Manitoba Telephone System would draw random samples from its database of listed numbers; no need existed for “workarounds” such as random digit dialing. Further, cell phones did not exist and telemarketing was just starting. Stating that the university was conducting the research also boosted participation. The result was that we could complete surveys of 700 – 800 persons in 4 days, with low refusal rates.
These surveys also paid attention to sample quality, adjusting weights to represent Statistics Canada population data.
Except where noted, Greg Mason authored these reports with important contributions from Institute staff. In 1982, the surveys expanded to include western Canada.
- Profiles on Manitoba (Vol 1 No 1) Attitudes of the Manitoba population toward bilingualism policies proposed by the provincial government (Read more)
- Profiles on Manitoba (Vol 1 No 2) Attitudes of the Manitoba population toward nuclear disarmament (Read more)
- Profiles on Manitoba (Vol 1 No 3) Reactions of the Manitoba population to health and safety legislation (Read more)
- Profiles on Manitoba (Vol 1 No 4) Attitudes of the Manitoba population toward education (Read more)
- Profiles on Manitoba (Vol 2 No 1) The 1984 election: a retrospective poll (Read more)
- Profiles on Manitoba (Vol 2 No 2) Attitudes of the Manitoba population toward capital punishment (Read more)
- Profiles on Western Canada (Vol 2 No 3) Political attitudes of Western Canadians (Read more)
- Profiles on Western Canada (Vol 2 No 4) Abolition of the Senate (Read more)
- Profiles on Western Canada (Vol 3 No 1) Politics in Western Canada (Read more)
- Profiles on Western Canada (Vol 3 No 1) Consumer intentions (Read more)
ISER convened several workshops and a festschrift in honour of Clarence Barber a long-time professor of economics at the University of Manitoba.
Economic Policies for Canada in the 1980’s
In light of the deepening recession of 1982, the Institute for Social and Economic Research convened a group of distinguished economists to consider “Economic Policies for Canada in the 1980’s.” Over the course of two days, fourteen papers were presented examining all facets of macroeconomic policy. Lively debate ensued throughout the day and into the evening among academics, students, and leaders from industry and government. The proceedings edited by Greg Mason, Director of the Institute, appeared in the following volumes:
- Wage and Price Control (Read more)
- Macroeconomics – theory, policy, and evidence (Read more)
- Monetarism: Panacea or Perfidy? (Read more)
The Collected Economic Papers of C.L. Barber
(edited by A.M.C Waterman, D.P.J. Hum and B.L. Scarfe)
Clarence Barber was “one of Canada’s most respected and thoughtful economists.” He made important contributions to monetary and fiscal policy, international trade and finance, industrial organization, economic stabilization and the problems of inflation and unemployment. (Read more)
Survey Research Manual
(Greg Mason, Brian McPherson, Derek Hum, and Lance Roberts)
Based on research conducted by the Institute, the Survey Research Manual offers guidance on designing and executing in-person, telephone, and mail questionnaires. Note the this manual reflects practice in 1986, before the advent of cell phones, computer-aided-telephone interviewing, web-based surveys, and random digit dialling. Despite that, the advice on fundamentals such as sampling, questionnaire design and logistics remains pertinent. (Read more)
Selected research projects
- Longitudinal Designs for Housing Research (Completed for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) (Read more)
- Survey of methodology and preliminary estimates of the fiscal incidence associated with the diversion of rail to road in Manitoba (Read more)
- Wealth, income and welfare: a preliminary review of the Mincome Baseline data (Read more)
- Energy conservation and fuel conversion among homeowners (Read more)
Western Economic Review
Western Economic Review ran from 1982 to 1986, starting as an inhouse journal and eventually receiving a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada support as a full peer-reviewed scholarly journal. The journal ceased when the Institute closed in July 1986
Volume 2 Number 2 (Read)
Volume 2 Number 3&4 (Read)
During its existence, the Institute offered technical and logistical support for a range of projects across the social sciences