New working paper: The Linguistic Wage Gap in Quebec, 1901 to 1921

This summer is the summer of productivity and I keep churning out new papers that needed to be finished. Here is the newest. Its with my friend Jason Dean of Sheridan College (who is an incoming professor at King’s University College) and studies the wage gap in Quebec between francophones and anglophones from 1901 to 1921. The abstract is below and the paper is available on SSRN:

For most of Canadian economic history, French-Canadians (composing more than a quarter of the country’s population) had living standards inferior to those of English-Canadians. This was true even in the province (Québec) where the French-Canadians constituted a majority. Today, no significant gap remains. However, the question of when the gap started to disappeared remains surprisingly unanswered. Most of the attention has been dedicated to the post-1970 data when census information is available and which shows rapid convergence. However, we do not know if the convergence started before 1970. In this paper, we use data from the 1901, 1911 and 1921 censuses to provide the first elements of an answer. We find that the gap started closing modestly at the beginning of the 20th century but that it stopped closing until 1970. This is an important finding as it suggests that while there was some pre-1970 convergence, the bulk of the convergence occurred after 1970.

The Incubated Revolution: Education, Cohort Effects, and the Linguistic Wage Gap in Quebec, 1970 to 2000

I have a new working paper out there. This time, its co-authored with two friends from Quebec (we were undergraduates in economics running in the same circles): Julien Gagnon and Maripier Isabelle. This is a paper we started maybe three or four years ago and we took some time polishing it and improving it (we also got distracted in the process by other projects and newborn kids). However, this is good as the paper had time to mature into what I deem to be one of my favorite papers (after the lighthouse paper with Rosolino Candela).

In this paper, we question the linguistic wage gap between francophones and anglophones in Quebec after 1970. We found out that there was little convergence within birth cohorts over time. Most of the convergence that took place was across birth cohorts. This lead us to propose a different explanation for the convergence. Rather than emphasizing political changes in the 1960s and 1970s, we argue that educational reforms in the 1940s sowed the seeds of convergence. The abstract is below and the SSRN version of the working paper can be foundhere:

The wage gap between higher-earning English-speaking workers and those of the French-speaking majority, that had long characterized Quebec’s labour market, vanished between 1970 and 2000. We unveil a new empirical fact: the closing of the wage gap occurred through the replacement of older generations of workers by younger ones whose earnings were more equal. To explain this, we rely on a two-sector economy model characterized by linguistic barriers and capital mobility. The model not only explains the new fact but is also consistent with the timing of policy changes in the domain of education.

Economic freedom and the economic consequences of the 1918 pandemic

I have a new working paper, co-authored with my friend and former TTU colleague Jamie Bologna Pavlik. This time, we consider whether economic freedom mitigates the economic consequences of infectious disease outbreak. We apply newly available data from Leandro Prados de la Escosura (here in the Economic History Review) on economic liberty since 1850 to the 1918 flu pandemic. We find that economically freer societies were better able to cope with the shock that the pandemic induced. The abstract is below and the link to the SSRN version of the paper is here:

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 constituted a strong exogenous shock on economic activity that compounded that of the First World War. In this paper, we condition the economic importance of these shocks on the level of economic freedom measured by the HIEL project (Prados de la Escosura 2016) to test whether freer economies fared better. Our argument is that higher levels of economic freedom meant a greater ability to adjust to the shocks by reducing frictions in the reallocation of resources and the reorganization of economic activity. We find that countries with higher levels of economic freedom suffered less from the pandemic. We link this finding with the literature on economic freedom and crises.

Making sense of dictatorships and health outcomes

This morning, the British Medical Journal: Global Health published my article with Benjamin Powell and Gilbert Berdine on how to make sense of health outcomes under dictatorships. The article is open access (here) and a summary is available below:

How should global health researchers and practitioners assess and make sense of improved health policy and outcomes under authoritarian and dictatorial regimes? In this editorial, we explained that it should not come as a surprise that some non-democratic regimes see some health indicators improve. Dictatorships excel at solving univariate problems. However, they tend to fail at dealing with the trade-offs associated with these solutions and on which such solutions often depend. These trade-offs are a lack of economic freedom which results in poverty and a lack of political freedom, both of which may ultimately have negative consequences on health outcomes.

Forthcoming: Colonial Military Garrisons as Labor-Market Shocks: Quebec City and Boston, 1760–1775 

Earlier this week, Jeremy Land and I received news from Social Science Quarterly that our article on colonial military garrisons had been accepted. In the article, we explain that because quartering troops acts like a tax, the labor supply shock of a large number of soldiers who had to work in colonial cities like Boston and Quebec City to complement their pay was considerable. The abstract is below and the paper is here on my website:

The military occupation of Boston in 1768 shocked the city’s labor market. The soldiers, who were expected to supplement their pay by working for local businesses, constituted an influx equal to 12.5 percent of greater Boston’s population. To assess the importance of this shock, we use the case of Quebec City, which experienced the reverse process (i.e., a reduction in the British military presence from close to 18 percent of the region’s population to less than 1 percent). We argue that, in Boston, the combination of the large influx of soldiers and a heavy tax on the local population in the form of the billeting system caused an important wage reduction while the lighter billeting system of Quebec City and the winding down of the garrison pushed wages up. We tie these experiences to political developments in the 1770s.