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Was Canadian Manufacturing Inefficient before WWI? The Case of the Cotton Textile Industry, 1870-1910


  • Michael Hinton

    (The Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis (RCEA); Ryerson University)


Is it possible that generations of Canadian economists and historians have got it wrong and Canadian manufacturing before WWI was fairly efficient? Yes, because they do not pay enough attention to the measurement of efficiency. New cliometric evidence supporting the revisionist side of this question is presented on total factor productivity and five other measures of efficiency for the Canadian cotton textile industry, 1870-1910, an industry long thought to be grossly inefficient, which shows the industry performed strongly relative to the U.S. cotton textile industry and other cotton textile industries elsewhere in the world.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Hinton, 2011. "Was Canadian Manufacturing Inefficient before WWI? The Case of the Cotton Textile Industry, 1870-1910," Working Paper series 44_11, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
  • Handle: RePEc:rim:rimwps:44_11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Inwood, K., 1991. "Maritime Industrialization from 1870 to 1910 ; A Review of the Evidence and Its Interpretation," Working Papers 1991-19, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.
    2. Kris Inwood & Ian Keay, 2006. "Assessing Economic Performance among North American Manufacturing Establishments, 1870/71: Data, Methodology and Measurement Issues," Working Papers 1030, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    3. Baldwin, John R. & Green, Alan G., 2008. "The Productivity Differential Between the Canadian and U.S. Manufacturing Sectors: A Perspective Drawn from the Early 20th Century," The Canadian Productivity Review 2008022e, Statistics Canada, Economic Analysis Division.
    4. Broadberry,Steve N., 2005. "The Productivity Race," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521023580, March.
    5. Fogel, Robert William, 1968. "The Specification Problem in Economic History: A Correction," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 28(01), pages 126-126, March.
    6. Clark, Gregory, 1987. "Why Isn't the Whole World Developed? Lessons from the Cotton Mills," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(01), pages 141-173, March.
    7. Easton, Stephen T. & Gibson, William A. & Reed, Clyde G., 1988. "Tariffs and growth: The dales hypothesis," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 147-163, April.
    8. Ian Keay, 2000. "Canadian manufacturers' relative productivity performance, 1907-1990," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1049-1068, November.
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    More about this item


    Manufacturing; Nineteenth Century. Canada. Cotton Textiles; Efficiency; Total Factor Productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • L67 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Other Consumer Nondurables: Clothing, Textiles, Shoes, and Leather Goods; Household Goods; Sports Equipment
    • N60 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N61 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology

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