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

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Ann Carlos & Frank Lewis, 2010. "Property Rights, Standards of Living, and Economic Growth: Western Canadian Cree," Working Papers 1232, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:1232
    as

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    File URL: http://qed.econ.queensu.ca/working_papers/papers/qed_wp_1232.pdf
    File Function: First version 2010
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hall, Robert E & Jones, Charles I, 1997. "Levels of Economic Activity across Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 173-177, May.
    2. Allen,Robert C., 2009. "The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521868273, October.
    3. 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.
    4. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2005. "The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change, and Economic Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 546-579, June.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    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.
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    11. 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.
    12. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Donna Feir & Rob Gillezeau & Maggie Jones, 2017. "The Slaughter of the North American Bison and Reversal of Fortunes on the Great Plains," Department Discussion Papers 1701, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    native americans; living standards; property rights;

    JEL classification:

    • N51 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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