Welcome to the Centre for the Study of Living Standards
Contact Information 151 Slater Street, Suite 710
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5H3
The Centre for the Study of Living Standards is a non-profit, national, independent organization that seeks to contribute to a better understanding of trends in and determinants of productivity, living standards and economic and social well-being through research.
Announcements & Recent Releases
On October 6, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released two reports prepared for the National Association of Friendship Centres that examine the Aboriginal labour market in Canada. In the first report, Fanny McKellips provides a detailed discussion of the currently available labour market infromation on Aboriginal Canadians. In the second report, Jasmin Thomas provides a comprehensive survey of best practices in labour market forecasting and then applies these best practices to a labour market forecasting model for the Canadian Aboriginal population.
On September 30, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released "Preliminary Estimates of Good Life Time (GLT) in Canada Using the General Social Survey," a report authored by Michael Wolfson and Kar-Fai Gee.This report constructs estimates of a new measure of economic well-being, Good Life Time, in Canada for 1992, 1998, 2005, and 2010. Good life time is an extension of life expectancy which captures the amount of time individuals can expect to simultaneously have adequate income and health, and the free time to enjoy them. The authors estimate that 59.2 per cent of Canadian men above the age of 15 had sufficient income, health, and time in 2010, compared to 47.6 per cent of women in the same age group.
On September 30, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released two reports on poverty in the United States and Australia. The reports used microdata from both countries to construct estimates of poverty-related variables that are comparable to EU estimates from Eurostat. Estimates were made for the Gini coefficient for the overall population, and for the poverty gap and the poverty rate for the overall population, the elderly population, and single-parent headed households. The U.S. results show that poverty was higher in the United States in 2013 than in all 13 EU countries examined for three of the five poverty variables and within the top three in the other two measures. The estimates for Australia, although slighlty lower than the U.S., also show that poverty in Australia was higher than in almost all other European countries for most of the measures examined. In both countries, elderly poverty rates are much more severe than in the 13 EU countries in these studies.
On September 17, the CSLS is pleased to announce the appointment of four new members to its Board of Directors:
Jock Finlayson, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer at the Business Council of British Columbia
Frances Woolley, Professor of Economics at Carleton University and Vice President of the Canadian Economics Association
The CSLS would like to thank the following four board members for their contributions to the organization during this many years of service:
Dr. Paul Davenport
Professor Richard G. Harris
Professor Morley Gunderson
Professor Keith Banting
On September 15, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report by Don Drummond, Evan Capeluck and Matthew Calver entitled "The Key Challenge for Canadian Public Policy: Generating Inclusive and Sustainable Growth." This report was motivated by a report from the CSLS that undertook economic and fiscal projections for all provinces and territories to 2038 and found that, based on current trends of slower GDP growth, government revenues will be insufficient to maintain needed increases in health spending, given an aging population. There are three possible approaches to this fiscal challenge: a focus on expenditure restraint; tax increases; or finding innovative solutions to increase Canada’s capacity for growth which strengthens the fiscal position of governments and earnings for Canadians. The authors recommend the latter. Hence, this report sets out a broad array of policy recommendations for governments to achieve better incomes for all Canadians while ensuring a more sustainable environment for all. A key theme of the report is that Canada’s market-oriented reforms have failed to generate a golden age of economic prosperity. Simply creating a level playing field for competition and then passively hoping that growth will happen may not be the best approach. Government must do more to support actors to make optimal decisions in the competitive marketplace. The report identifies many opportunities for the government to play an active role in mentoring businesses and individuals, providing information for decision making, and offering assistance to those who struggle to participate in the Canadian economy. A press release is available for this report.
On August 12, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report that examines the impact of the choice of poverty measure for trends in the Index of Economic Well-Being (IEWB). There are two types of poverty measures in Canada, an absolute measure called the Low-Income Cut-off or LICO and a relative measure called the Low-Income Measure or LIM. Between 1981 and 2011 the LIM poverty measure for the overall population rose 5.0 per cent in Canada, while the LICO measure fell 24.1 per cent. Since trends in the IEWB are inversely related to trends in the poverty rate, the IEWB estimates based on the LICO showed significantly greater improvement than those based on the LIM: 0.165 points versus 0.125 points.
On August 10, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report entitled “Development of Estimates for Household Production of Non-Market Services in OECD Countries for the Index of Economic Well-Being." This report provides an overview of the standard approaches used to estimate the value of household production. It also estimates the impact of including the value of household production in the measure of consumption flows on the Index of Economic Well-Being for OECD countries in 2008. Including these estimated values of household production in the calculation of total consumption flows significantly altered total consumption flows and it had an impact on relative rankings of countries. Canada has the eight highest consumption flows per capita if household production is not considered, but adding them reduces Canada's rank to twelfth, or third worst of the fourteen countries considered.
On July 23, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report entitled “Long-term Fiscal and Economic Projections for Canada and the Provinces and Territories, 2014-2038” written by Don Drummond and Evan Capeluck. The report presents long-term fiscal and economic projections for Canada, the provinces and the territories for the 2014-2038 period, and discusses their implications for budgetary balance at the provincial/territorial level. In particular, it examines whether economic growth and hence revenue growth (assuming no major changes in tax policy) will be sufficient to fund likely spending pressures. Economic growth is generally projected to be slower over the next 24 years than since 2000. As a result, all, or almost all, provinces and territories, depending upon the economic assumptions, will not be able to meet the test of balancing revenue growth with growth in public spending. Hence, without tax rate increases or action to curtail spending growth, there will be pressure for progressively larger deficits. A press release is available for this report. An op-ed in iPolitics covering this article is available here.
On July 22, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report on the socio-economic development of the Metis in Canada. The report identifies appropriate indicators to benchmark Metis socio-economic development against non-Aboriginal socio-economic development, while establishing a benchmark against which future progress can be gauged. Quite briefly, there have been strong gains in Metis socio-economic development, especially concerning income and education. In particular, Metis median income reached 86.7 per cent of non-Aboriginal median income in 2010, up from 72.9 per cent in 2000. In terms of education, the share of the Metis with a college, CEGEP or other non-university certificate or diploma as their highest degree actually surpassed the share of the non-Aboriginal population in similar areas by 2011. However, there are still a number of gaps that remain. For example, the Metis continue to have poorer indicators of health, especially concerning smoking. Furthermore, the Metis still have lower levels of suitable housing than the non-Aboriginal population. One of the most interesting findings of the report is the large gaps that exist within the Metis Nation between provinces. The report concludes that concerted efforts, determined cooperation, and substantial participation from Metis leaders and Metis organizations at both the provincial and national level will be required to close the remaining gaps between provinces within the Metis Nation and between the aggregate Metis and non-Aboriginal populations.
On July 20, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released two reports on productivity in the forest products sector in Quebec and Ontario over the 2000-2013 period. The report was commissioned by the Forest Products Association of Canada. The reports find that the forest product sector in both provinces was hit by a perfect storm in the 2000s. The demand for the forest products was devastated by structural factors such as the decline in demand for paper caused by the shift to electronic media and the rise in the value of the Canadian dollar and, after 2007, cyclical factors arising from the financial crisis and the collapse in U.S. housing construction. When demand is weak, productivity growth is also generally weak. But this was not the case in the forest products sector. Survival required that employers cut hours worked even faster than demand was falling. Between 2000 and 2013, employers in the forest products sector in Quebec reduced hours worked at a 4.8 per cent average annual rate, compared to only the 1.1 per cent fall in output, resulting in labour productivity growth of 3.7 per cent per year. Adversity thus drove this strong productivity performance, the second best among all 20 two-digit industries in the province. The same phenomenon was at play in Ontario, although to a lesser extent. Hours worked in the forest products sector fell 4.7 per cent per year while output fell 3.8 per cent, resulting in labour productivity growth of 1.0 per cent per year, which was above the all-industry average for the province. A press release is available for this report. A Globe and Mail article for this report is available here.
On June 29, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report on productivity in Ontario. The report was commissioned by the Ontario Ministry of Finance. After advancing at a 1.9 per cent average annual rate between 1987 and 2000, business sector productivity growth has fallen to 0.5 per cent per year between 2000 and 2012, the second lowest growth rate among the provinces. The report provides an overview of the productivity performance of the Ontario economy and examines both the supply-side and demand-side factors that influenced Ontario’s productivity performance. The main cause of Ontario’s lackluster productivity growth is found to be the deterioration of external demand conditions. The drop in international exports, due to weak demand growth in the United States, loss of cost competitiveness linked to the appreciation of Canadian dollar and increasing international competition, played an important role in the slowdown in Ontario’s productivity growth. A Globe and Mail article is available here.
On June 25, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released the Spring 2015 issue of the International Productivity Monitor. This issue features articles on the following topis: the measurement of industry contributions to labour productivity growth; the benefits of closing the Aboriginal education gap; the impact of public policies on bargaining power and the pay/productivity linkage; the relationship between employment and productivity growth; and the contribution of ICT diffusion and investment to labour productivity growth. A press release for this issue of the journal is available here.
On June 25, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report on closing the Aboriginal education gap in Canada. This report has two major goals. The first goal is to assess progress on the gaps in educational attainment and labour market outcomes between 2001 and 2011 and the consequences of any progress (or lack thereof) for the Canadian economy. The second goal is to produce updated estimates of the benefits of eliminating the educational attainment gap. Utilizing projections of the Aboriginal population in 2031 and data from the 2011 National Household survey, the CSLS estimates the effects of closing the educational attainment gap on Aboriginal labour market outcomes and national economic performance. The CSLS provides breakdowns of the benefits by province, sex, age, Aboriginal identity, registered Indian status, and residence on- and off-reserve. The CSLS projects that the direct cumulative economic benefits to Canada of closing the educational attainment gap between 2011 and 2031 could be as large as $261 billion (2010 dollars). An abridged version of this report is available in the International Productivity Monitor.
The Centre for the Study of Living Standards has organized five sessions for this year's Canadian Economic Association Annual Conference at Ryerson University in Toronto from May 29 - 31. The titles of the CSLS sessions are:
First Nations Education after the Withdrawal of Bill- C33 (joint with CD Howe Institute)
Issues in Aboriginal Economic Development (joint with CD Howe Institute)
The STEM Skills Report (joint with Canadian Council of Academies)
Merits of a Poverty Reduction Versus Income Inequality Reduction Agenda for Canada (joint with PEF)
A full program of the Centre's sessions can be found here.
Details about the CEA 49th Annual Conference can be found on the CEA website.
On February 25, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report in partnership with the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs of Carleton University (NPSIA) on the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and their successors, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More specifically, as the MDGs reach their end date in 2015, negotiations are ramping up at the United Nations for the establishment of a new set of SDGs. The SDGs, to be announced in September this year, will replace the MDGs and serve as a universal framework for achieving sustainable development outcomes in all countries by 2030, including Canada. This report takes an in-depth look at what the SDGs could mean for Canada, providing a concise overview of the report in the eight areas it covers: poverty, education, employment and inequality, energy, the environment, infrastructure, governance and international cooperation in Canada. Key themes discussed include global and national sustainable development priorities, challenges and opportunities for implementation of the SDGs, and data availability for measuring progress. Report highlights are available here.
On January 15, 2015, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report which concluded that even when the United States was experiencing a more severe economic downturn than Canada, from 2008 to 2013, its business sector was investing more than the Canadian business sector in ICT. From a per worker perspective, the Canadian situation is worse: ICT investment per worker decreased. In 2013, the investment gap per worker was 50 per cent: for every dollar the Canadian business sector invested in ICT per worker, the United States business sector invested two dollars. A press release for this report is available here.