Quantitative Aspects of Canadian Growth and Development, 1850-1926
CANADA: CONFEDERATION TO PRESENT, Rod Macleod, ed., Chinook Multimedia, 2008
Posted: 24 Jan 2010
Date Written: 2008
Estimates of the quantitative attributes of Canadian economic history, such as total output, manufacturing output, labour productivity, and price changes, have, with the application of more sophisticated methods of data collection and compilation, undergone significant revision since the 1950s. These revisions, which remain ongoing, have had, in turn, significant implications for scholars' understanding of the growth and development of the Canadian economy … In this article, I focus on the various data sets that either implicitly or explicitly underlie scholars' understanding of Canadian economic growth and development from Confederation (1867) to the late 1920s. Of particular importance are the different measures of real, or constant dollar, Canadian gross national product (GNP)(total output produced for sale on the market) and related estimates that are now available. More specifically, I address how these relate to the available estimates for population, immigration, exports, imports, investment, and real income. Different sets of estimates lend support to differing interpretations and explanations of Canadian growth and development. This debate has focused on the pre-1925 years because, from 1926 onwards, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, the agency that evolved into Statistics Canada, produced consistent and almost indisputable annual estimates for a large array of variables, including gross national product. For this later period, debate concentrates upon alternative explanations of the path and pattern of Canadian growth mapped out by the estimates.
Keywords: Growth, Development, Economic History, Confederation, Canada
JEL Classification: B16, B23, N11, N12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation