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Socialists, Populists, Resources, and the Divergent Development of Alberta and Saskatchewan


  • J.C. Herbert Emery
  • Ronald D. Kneebone


Canada's federal government established the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1905, making them approximately equal in area, population, and economy. Roughly one hundred years later, Alberta has three times the population of Saskatchewan and a gross domestic product (GDP) that is more than four times grea ter. The creation of the border represents a "natural experiment" that allows us to assess the relative importance of institutions versus geography to explain the divergent development of the twin provinces. While the perception persists that Saskatchewan's political climate hindered that province's development relative to Alberta's, it is Alberta's early lead in manufacturing, and vast mineral endowments, that present a more convincing explanation for the divergence.

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  • J.C. Herbert Emery & Ronald D. Kneebone, 2008. "Socialists, Populists, Resources, and the Divergent Development of Alberta and Saskatchewan," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 34(4), pages 419-440, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:34:y:2008:i:4:p:419-440

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mitchener, Kris James & McLean, Ian W, 2003. "The Productivity of US States since 1880," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 73-114, March.
    2. Ronald D. Kneebone & Kenneth J. McKenzie, 1999. "The Characteristics of Fiscal Policy in Canada," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 25(4), pages 483-501, December.
    3. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    4. Dani Rodrik & Arvind Subramanian & Francesco Trebbi, 2004. "Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 131-165, June.
    5. Rappaport, Jordan & Sachs, Jeffrey D, 2003. "The United States as a Coastal Nation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 5-46, March.
    6. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-499, June.
    7. J. C. Herbert Emery & Clint Levitt, 2002. "Cost of living, real wages and real incomes in thirteen Canadian cities, 1900-1950," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(1), pages 115-137, February.
    8. Gallup, J.L. & Sachs, J.D. & Mullinger, A., 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," Papers 1, Chicago - Graduate School of Business.
    9. Ian W. McLean & Alan M. Taylor, 2001. "Australian growth: a California perspective," Pacific Basin Working Paper Series 2001-06, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    10. John Luke Gallup & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Mellinger, 1999. "Geography and Economic Development," CID Working Papers 1, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    11. Patrick Coe & J.C. Herbert Emery, 2004. "The disintegrating Canadian labour market? The extent of the market then and now," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 37(4), pages 879-897, November.
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    1. J. C. Herbert Emery & Ana Ferrer & David Green, 2012. "Long-Term Consequences of Natural Resource Booms for Human Capital Accumulation," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 65(3), pages 708-734, July.

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