Living_Standards_in_Lower_Canada_1831 - LIVING STANDARDS IN...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

LIVING STANDARDS IN LOWER CANADA, 1831 Vincent Geloso (London School of Economics and HEC Montréal) Vadim Kufenko (University of Hohenheim) Remy Villeneuve (Geoprosys) PRELIMINARY VERSION: DO NOT QUOTE Abstract: This paper uses the price and wage data contained in the census of 1831 of Lower Canada to provide regional estimates of disparities in living standards within Quebec in 1831. Combining this data with price data for the colony as a whole, we can compare living standards in Quebec with those of numerous American and Canadian cities at the same point in time. The results show that Quebec was overall poorer. However, there are some regions which compared favorably – notably areas under free and common soccage as opposed to areas under seigneurial tenure. As a whole, Quebec was significantly poorer than the United States at the same time.
Image of page 1

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

In 1760, the French forces in Canada capitulated to the invading British Army and the official concession of Canada to the British was finalized in the Treaty of Paris of 1763. Up until the formation of Confederation in 1867, little is known about living standards in Canada. One school of thought argues that the colony of Lower Canada (known today as Quebec – we will use both names interchangeably) experienced a prolonged agricultural crisis which translated into declining living standards (Ouellet 1966; 1972; 1980). Another school of thought argues that growth was positive (Paquet and Wallot 2007; Bédard and Geloso 2014). Some have blamed the maintenance of French land tenure laws of seigneurialism by the British after the Conquest (Phillips 1974). In addition to uncertainties about the rate of growth, there are uncertainties as to the level of income. Some (Egnal 1996; 1998) believe that in 1760, the French inhabitants of Canada enjoyed similar living standards as the Americans. Others (Geloso forthcoming) believe that around 1760, the French Canadians were considerably poorer than the Americans. In this paper, we use the censuses of 1831 and 1842 to provide the first wide-ranging estimate of living standards in Quebec – then the largest British colony in North America – that is comparable with the United States. Thanks to these censuses’ information about wheat prices and wages in different areas, we can measure “grain-wages” across regions. In addition, we can also disaggregate the data according to the land tenure system in place in each area. In 1791, the British decided to forbid the settlement of new lands under the French seigneurial land tenure system while all lands settled prior 1791 continued to operate under that system. Thanks to the census data, this is the first time that a wide comparisons of living standards across institutional lines is possible. Our results show that a) within the colony, there were important variations in real wages and b) areas under seigneurial land tenure are substantially poorer in spite of factors that should help them c) real wages were below those observed in the American states to the south.
Image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern