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Property Rights, Standards of Living, and Economic Growth: Western Canadian Cree

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  • Ann Carlos

    ()
    (University of Colorado, Boulder)

  • Frank Lewis

    ()
    (Queen's University)

Abstract

The Great Divergence in standards of living for populations around the world occurred in the late 18th century. Prior to that date, evidence suggests that real wages of most Europeans, many living in China and India were similar. Some were a little higher and some a little lower, but with a low dispersion. By the middle of the 19th century, a divergence had occurred with western Europe pulling away from other groups. Little is known about the standards of living of the aboriginal peoples of North America many of whom were primarily hunter/gatherers at the end of the 18th century. Based on comparisons of expenditure, we show that the standard of living of aboriginal people in 1740 was similar to that of wage workers in London. However, within the next century, there would be a great divergence. This paper explores the ways in which hunter-gatherer lifeways and the concomitant property rights structures reduced the likelihood that native economy could experience modern rates of economic growth. Native society and property rights structures which provided a relatively high standard of living in the mid eighteenth century and for part of the nineteenth were unable to provide avenues for further development.

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File URL: http://qed.econ.queensu.ca/working_papers/papers/qed_wp_1232.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Queen's University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1232.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:1232

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Keywords: native americans; living standards; property rights;

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  1. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A, 2003. "The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 3712, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Carlos, Ann M. & Lewis, Frank D., 2001. "Trade, Consumption, And The Native Economy: Lessons From York Factory, Hudson Bay," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(04), pages 1037-1064, December.
  3. Hoffman, Philip T. & Jacks, David S. & Levin, Patricia A. & Lindert, Peter H., 2002. "Real Inequality In Europe Since 1500," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 322-355, June.
  4. Frank D. Lewis & M.C. Urquhart, 1997. "Growth and the Standard of Living in a Pioneer Economy: Upper Canada, 1826 to 1851," Working Papers 950, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  5. Logan, Trevon D., 2009. "The Transformation of Hunger: The Demand for Calories Past and Present," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(02), pages 388-408, June.
  6. Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1983. "English Workers’Living Standards During the Industrial Revolution: A New Look," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 36(1), pages 1-25, 02.
  7. Ann M. Carlos & Frank D. Lewis, 1999. "Property Rights, Competition and Depletion in the Eighteenth-Century Canadian Fur Trade: The Role of the European Market," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(3), pages 705-728, May.
  8. Feinstein, Charles H., 1998. "Pessimism Perpetuated: Real Wages and the Standard of Living in Britain during and after the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 625-658, September.
  9. David Weir, 1997. "Economic Welfare and Physical Well-Being in France, 1750-1990," NBER Chapters, in: Health and Welfare during Industrialization, pages 161-200 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Allen,Robert C., 2009. "The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521868273, April.
  11. Hall, Robert E & Jones, Charles I, 1997. "Levels of Economic Activity across Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 173-77, May.
  12. Joseph M. Prince & Richard H. Steckel, 2001. "Tallest in the World: Native Americans of the Great Plains in the Nineteenth Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 287-294, March.
  13. Logan, Trevon D., 2006. "Nutrition and Well-Being in the Late Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(02), pages 313-341, June.
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