Working Paper: The Economic History of French-Canadians

I was asked to write an entry for the Handbook of Cliometrics on the economic history of French-Canadians. Unfortunately, the Handbook has formatting guidelines that I noticed only after I had written my first draft. As such, I had to make significant cuts and that meant cutting multiple sources. This is unfortunate because I had written the entry as a roadmap to the literature leading to future research. As such, I kept the older version and submitted the new one. I make the “old” version available here on SSRN so that everyone can consult. The abstract is below:

This is a chapter entry (with more details and sources that had to be eliminated for formatting guidelines) for the Handbook of Cliometrics. It details research done in the last 40 years regarding the economic history of French-Canadians. The discussion of recent findings centers around the pattern of international income differences and their evolution over time.

Explanations of the poverty of French-Canadians that hinge on geography and culture appear to be empirically rejected. Institutional explanations such as intermittent warfare during the 17th and 18th centuries, the conquest of Quebec by the British in 1760, the role of seigneurial tenure and the role of the provincial jurisdiction over education in the 1867 British North America Act appear to form far stronger explanations. Seigneurial tenure and educational policies appear to be the most important of those.

Future research directions are then highlighted — notably the creation and extension of new and existing datasets.



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