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Determinants of Trends in Living Standards in Canada and the United States, 1989-2000


  • Andrew Sharpe



The foundation for real income growth is productivity growth. This basic principle of economics is well illustrated in this article by Andrew Sharpe of the Centre for the Study of Living Standards on the determinants of trends in living standards in Canada in the 1990s. He shows that over the 1989-2000 period 80 per cent of the widening of Canada's income gap with the United States can be accounted for by our slower labour productivity growth. In the first half of the period our falling employment-population ratio contributed to the decline in our standard of living relative to that in the United States. With the recovery in the labour market in the second half of the decade much of this decline was reversed. The acceleration of productivity growth in the United States after 1995 was responsible for our relative deterioration in living standards during this period.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Sharpe, 2001. "Determinants of Trends in Living Standards in Canada and the United States, 1989-2000," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 2, pages 3-10, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:sls:ipmsls:v:2:y:2001:1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alain de Serres & Shuji Kobayakawa & Torsten Sløk & Laura Vartia, 2006. "Regulation of Financial Systems and Economic Growth," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 506, OECD Publishing.
    2. Robert Inklaar & Marcel P. Timmer & Bart van Ark, 2007. "Mind the Gap! International Comparisons of Productivity in Services and Goods Production," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 8, pages 281-307, May.
    3. Marcel P. Timmer & Mary O’Mahony & Bart van Ark, 2007. "EU KLEMS Growth and Productivity Accounts: An Overview," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 14, pages 71-85, Spring.
    4. Dennis Fixler & Kimberly Zieschang, 1999. "The productivity of the banking sector: integrating financial and production approaches to measuring financial service output," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(2), pages 547-569, April.
    5. Conway, P. & Lysenko, T. & Barnard, G., 2011. "Product Market Regulation in Russia," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, issue 10, pages 95-124.
    6. Schettkat, Ronald & Yocarini, Lara, 2006. "The shift to services employment: A review of the literature," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 127-147, June.
    7. Bourles, Renaud & Cette, Gilbert, 2007. "Trends in "structural" productivity levels in the major industrialized countries," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 151-156, April.
    8. Someshwar Rao & Jianmin Tang & Weimin Wang, 2004. "Measuring the Canada-U.S. Productivity Gap: Industry Dimensions," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 9, pages 3-14, Fall.
    9. Robert Inklaar & Marcel P. Timmer & Bart van Ark, 2008. "Market services productivity across Europe and the US," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 23, pages 139-194, January.
    10. Oliner, Stephen D. & Sichel, Daniel E., 2003. "Information technology and productivity: where are we now and where are we going?," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 477-503, July.
    11. Robert Inklaar & Mary O'Mahony & Marcel Timmer, 2005. "ICT AND EUROPE's PRODUCTIVITY PERFORMANCE: INDUSTRY-LEVEL GROWTH ACCOUNT COMPARISONS WITH THE UNITED STATES," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 51(4), pages 505-536, December.
    12. Sapir, Andre & Aghion, Philippe & Bertola, Giuseppe & Hellwig, Martin & Pisani-Ferry, Jean & Rosati, Dariusz & Vinals, Jose & Wallace, Helen, 2004. "An Agenda for a Growing Europe: The Sapir Report," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199271498, June.
    13. Timmer, Marcel & Ypma, Gerard & van Ark, Bart van, 2007. "PPPs for Industry Output: A New Dataset for International Comparisons," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-82, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
    14. Antipa, P., 2008. "Productivity decomposition and sectoral dynamics," Quarterly selection of articles - Bulletin de la Banque de France, Banque de France, issue 11, pages 51-64, Spring.
    15. Bart van Ark & Mary O'Mahoney & Marcel P. Timmer, 2008. "The Productivity Gap between Europe and the United States: Trends and Causes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 25-44, Winter.
    16. Robert Inklaar & Marcel Timmer, 2007. "International Comparisons of Industry Output, Inputs and Productivity Levels: Methodology and New Results," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 343-363.
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    Cited by:

    1. Keith Banting & Andrew Sharpe & France St-Hilaire, 2001. "The Longest Decade: Introduction and Overview," The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress,in: Andrew Sharpe, Executive Director & France St-Hilaire, Vice-President , Research & Keith Banting, Di (ed.), The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress 2001: The Longest Decade: Canada in the 1990s, volume 1 Centre for the Study of Living Standards;The Institutute for Research on Public Policy.

    More about this item


    Income; Growth; Productivity; Determinants; Trends; Living Standards; Income Gap; Labour Productivity; Labor; Acceleration; 1990s; Employment; Demographics; Canada; United States;

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure


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