GDP in Canada, 1688 to 1765

In a few days, I will be at the Economic History Society meeting at Robinson College at Cambridge University. I will be presenting a short communication of a paper I am finishing to assemble properly. It concerns the GDP of Canada before the British took it over from the French.

Basically, my paper has two aims. The first is to see whether or not Canada experienced any economic growth before the conquest. The answer to that confirms what I have done elsewhere using real wages: there was no growth in living standards.

The second aim relates to improving comparability between the Old and the New World. While the real wages approach I had used in the past was useful (see my other paper here), especially in comparing with the United States, there were some limitations. The most notable limitation is that the geography of Canada limited winter and fall work during the preindustrial era. As a result, real wages would understate the difference in living standards between Canada and the old world (France, Britain) where the length of the work year was greater. Using the GDP approach (which gives me income per capita), I find that the gap between Canada and England (no reliable GDP estimate exist for France) is eliminated and turns into a disadvantage for Canadians (the British are richer).

This conference paper can be seen here in the Economic History Society’s conference booklet and the two key graphics can be seen below. EconomicGrowthCanada


The Equally “Bad” French and English Farmers of Quebec: New TFP Measures from the 1831 Census

I have had many iterations of this paper. Each time a draft was made, we cut it down to answer fewer questions. The more we worked on it, the more we realized that the endeavor to explain agricultural productivity differences and the agricultural crisis of Canada from 1800 to 1850 required numerous separate papers. As a result, we opted to cut down this paper to only one question: were French-Canadian farmers “worse” than English-Canadian farmers at the height of the agricultural crisis (1831). Our answer is that, no they were not.

The paper can be consulted here on Academia. It has an extensive appendix on our data computations and our control variables. To our knowledge, it is the first that such an exhaustive empirical strategy has been used for early Canadian history. The key table can be seen here below and confirm that the differences in TFP are minimal.



New Paper: Living Standards in Canada, 1831

I have a new paper regarding the measurement of living standards in Lower Canada (modern-day Quebec) in 1831. I use the census of 1831 which is rich in that it offers a wide cross-sectional of wages and prices across the colony. We found that Canadians were substantially poorer than the Americans in Boston and Philadelphia and that within the colony, there were wide variations in living standards. The paper can be found at  Below, you will also find the map of our results for Quebec, a table of the distribution of wages and the comparison with the United States. 12874460_10153341659956507_1736134920_o

Wages in Canada