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


  • Jeremy Land
  • Vincent Geloso


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeremy Land & Vincent Geloso, 2020. "Colonial Military Garrisons as Labor‐Market Shocks: Quebec City and Boston, 1760–1775," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1326-1344, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:socsci:v:101:y:2020:i:4:p:1326-1344
    DOI: 10.1111/ssqu.12797

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert Warren Anderson & Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama, 2017. "Jewish Persecutions and Weather Shocks: 1100–1800," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(602), pages 924-958, June.
    2. Vincent Geloso, 2019. "A price index for Canada, 1688 to 1850," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 52(2), pages 526-560, May.
    3. Alvin Rabushka, 2008. "Introduction to Taxation in Colonial America," Introductory Chapters, in: Taxation in Colonial America, Princeton University Press.
    4. Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama, 2014. "Taxes, Lawyers, and the Decline of Witch Trials in France," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(1), pages 77-112.
    5. Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2016. "Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality since 1700," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10670.
    6. Vincent J. Geloso, 2019. "Distinct within North America: living standards in French Canada, 1688–1775," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 13(2), pages 277-321, May.
    7. Robert Warren Anderson & Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama, 2017. "Jewish Persecutions and Weather Shocks: 1100–1800," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(602), pages 924-958, June.
    8. Rothenberg, Winifred B., 1979. "A Price Index for Rural Massachusetts, 1750–1855," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(4), pages 975-1001, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maja Uhre Pedersen & Vincent Geloso & Paul Sharp, 2020. "Globalization and Empire: Market integration and international trade between Canada, the United States and Britain, 1750-1870," Working Papers 0204, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).

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