Forthcoming: Distinct from the Rest of North America: Living Standards in French Canada, 1688 to 1775

I received news yesterday that my paper on real wages in Quebec (French Canada) from 1688 to 1775 has been accepted for publication at Cliometrica. The SSRN version of the paper is no longer the exact version that has been accepted, but its core results are still valid:

This paper uses a novel dataset of prices and wages from the French colony of Quebec (Canada’s second largest province today) between 1688 and 1775 in order to measure living standards during the colonial era. Using these data, I follow a welfare ratios approach and find that Quebec was poorer than the American colonies and England, while being slightly richer than France. However, this last conclusion is sensitive to changes in the basket used to compare wages. When one shifts from a bare-bones basket in the welfare ratio to a respectable basket, Quebec becomes only as rich as France, but remains poorer than the American colonies and England.

This is an important development for me as I have been waiting for the publication of this paper to set up my other papers. Indeed, finding that Canada was poorer (and in line with most of Latin America) during the colonial era suggests that a) Canadian institutions should be considered in the same light as American and Latin American institutions; b) that there is something clearly exceptional that is happening in the American colonies at the time.


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