I have a new working paper available, co-authored with my friend Louis Rouanet (Western Kentucky University) on whether geography explains Quebec’s relative poverty since the 19th century. Our answer is that “no”, geography does not explain the differences — institutions do. The abstract is below and the paper is available here on SSRN :
From the 19th century to the 1940’s, Quebec remained poorer and less economically developed than the rest of Canada in general and poorer than Ontario in particular. This placed Quebec at the bottom of North American rankings of living standards. One prominent hypothesis for the initiation of this gap is tied to disparities in agricultural land quality fail to explain this development gap. Using newly available data for the mid-19th century, we formally test this hypothesis and find it holds little explanatory power. We further argue that poor institutions in Quebec (i.e. notably seigneurial tenure) are at the root of the development gap.