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



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