The Lesser Shades of Labor Coercion: The Impact of Seigneurial Tenure in Nineteenth-Century Quebec
125 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2018 Last revised: 15 Mar 2023
Date Written: October 20, 2018
Can mild forms of labor coercion generate welfare effects as large as more extreme forms? Do these effects persist over time? To answer both questions, we use Quebec's system of seigneurial tenure (in effect until 1854) that granted landlords market power in the establishment of factories, and restricted worker mobility. This created a mild form of labor coercion as landlords had incentives to reduce employment and wage rates. To measure these effects, we rely on the Constitutional Act of 1791 which stated that all new lands had to be settled under a different tenure system. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find that seigneurial tenure significantly depressed wages. The effect on wages is as large , or larger than, causal estimates of significantly more coercive labor regimes. We also find that by 1871, seventeen years after the institution's abolition, these effects had fully dissipated, suggesting that persistence is not an issue.
Keywords: Canadian Economic History, Monopsony, Labor Coercion, Economic Development
JEL Classification: N11, J42, R52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation