The Attitudes of Canadians to Productivity: Balancing Standard of Living and Quality of Life
In: The Review of Economic Performance and Social Progress 2002: Towards a Social Understanding of Productivity
In this chapter, Graves and Jenkins explore the attitudes of Canadians to productivity. The distinction between our standard of living and our quality of life is a powerful one for Canadians generally. The economic citizen who emerges from Graves and Jenkins data is relatively aware of the terms of the productivity debate. Canadians appear to have a broadly optimistic view of the economy, but give the country only a lukewarm overall rating of its productivity. Moreover, although improved productivity does not rank as highly as health care, education, the environment and crime prevention, the public does see it as an important goal, qualified by some scepticism. Nevertheless, the Canadian public's attitude towards productivity is qualified by a commitment to a broader sense of the quality of life. Graves and Jenkins report that Canadians place considerably higher emphasis on quality of life as a goal as compared with a high standard of living when these are traded off. This attitude also influences the public's reaction to policy debate about the productivity agenda. As well, in their words, "there is a significant gap in the understanding of how productivity should be dealt with between the residents of the boardrooms and the residents of the family rooms of Canada".
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