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 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.
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.
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.
December 22, 2014
The Centre for the Study of Living Standards released the Fall 2014 issue of the International Productivity Monitor. The issue contains an article “The Impact of the Oil Boom on Canada’s Labour Productivity Performance, 2000-2012” which explores the channels, both direct and indirect, by which the oil and gas sector affects productivity growth. The article finds that effect of the oil boom on Canada’s mediocre aggregate productivity performance are complex and poorly understood. Labour productivity in the Canadian oil and gas sector fell at a 6.4 per cent average annual rate between 2000 and 2012. This negative contribution was however offset by a positive reallocation effect, reflecting the high labour productivity level of the sector and the net inflow of workers. The net effect resulted in the oil and gas sector making a very small positive direct contribution to labour productivity growth. Labour productivity growth has been very strong (10.7 per cent per year) in the non-conventional oil and gas industry (i.e. oil sands) since 2007, the first year for which data for this sub-sector are available. This reflects the increasing importance of steam-assisted gravity-drainage (SAGD) technologies and learning-by-doing. A Globe and Mail article is available here.
This issue of the International Productivity Monitor also contains articles on the following topics: directions for future productivity research, with contributions from five leading international productivity researchers, the contribution of intangible assets to productivity growth in Ontario, the influence of natural resources on productivity; and productivity trends in the Canadian forest products sector. A press release for this publication is available here.
On October 28, 2014, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a new report entitled "What Explains the Canada-U.S. Software Investment Intensity Gap?". The objective of this report is to investigate the reasons why Canadian businesses invest substantially less in software than their U.S. counterparts. The report reviews the state of the software investment landscape in Canada, discusses the views of industry experts obtained through key informant interviews, and assesses possible explanations for the software gap. About one-third of the gap can be assigned to differences in labour productivity, industry structure, and measurement methodologies between the two countries. The remaining two-thirds are more difficult to explain. A press release for this publication is available here.
With great regret, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards announces the passing of Ian Stewart, CSLS Chair from its founding in 1995 to April 2014. Ian passed away on October 24 from cancer at the age of 83. An obituary is available here.
On May 15, 2014, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a new report entitled “Convergence across Provincial Economies in Canada: Trends, Drivers, and Implications”. This report examines the current state of provincial differences in twenty-five economic variables related to income, productivity, the labour market, well-being and fiscal capacity, and analyzes trends toward or away from convergence for these economic variables. This report also examines the factors influencing these trends and discusses the implications for the federation. The report draws upon the CSLS Convergence Database. A press release for this publication is available here.
On May 8, 2014, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released the “2014 Canada Report” prepared as part of the Germany-based Bertelsmann Foundation’s third edition of its Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) project. SGI 2014 is a cross-national survey of 41 OECD and EU countries that analyzes each country’s future viability based on 140 quantitative and qualitative indicators. It ranks countries in terms of policy performance, quality of democracy, and governance. The Centre for the Study of Living Standards is the Canadian partner for the project and produced both the scores for Canada and the detailed assessment of policies found in the Canada report. Canada’s performance in the 2014 rankings was middling, and showed deterioration since the rankings were last released in 2011. A press release for this publication is available here.
On May 6, 2014, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a new report entitled “A Detailed Analysis of Productivity Trends in the Canadian Forest Products Sector”. This report provides a detailed analysis of output, input and productivity trends in the Canadian forest products sector and looks at the key drivers of productivity, investigating potential barriers to productivity growth and discussing policies that could enable faster growth. The sector enjoyed strong productivity gains in the 2000-2012 period, driven in particular by the wood product manufacturing subsector. A press release for this publication is available here.
The Centre for the Study of Living Standards has organized four sessions for this year's Canadian Economic Association Annual Conference at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver from May 29 - June 1. The titles of the CSLS sessions are:
What is Happening to Well-Being in Canada (joint with PEF)
Aboriginal Education Issues (Joint session with CD Howe Institute)
Developments in Well-Being Research
A full program of the Centre's sessions can be found here.
Details about the CEA 48th Annual Conference can be found on the CEA website.
On December 10, 2013, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released the Fall 2013 issue of the International Productivity Monitor. In the lead article Explaining Slower Productivity Growth: The Role of Weak Demand Growth, Someshwar Rao from S. Rao Consulting Inc. and Jiang Li from the University of Victoria find that the weak output growth since 2000, reflecting weaker demand growth, was in fact largely responsible for the productivity slowdown experienced in Canada. Their econometric analysis shows that weaker demand reduces labour productivity growth through a number of channels, including fewer economies of scale and scope, weaker investment, and slower human capital formation.
This issue of the International Productivity Monitor also contains articles on the following topics: the sectoral productivity performance of Ontario industries; the sensitivity of multifactor productivity growth in Canada and the United States to alternative methodologies and assumptions; the role of measurement issues in explaining the Canada-U.S. ICT investment gap; the potential contribution of firm-level data to productivity analysis; and policies to improve government productivity performance. A press release for this publication is available here.
On November 6, 2013, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a new study entitled “Overview of Developments in ICT Investment in Canada in 2012”. After two years of robust growth in 2010 and 2011, following the 2009 collapse, ICT investment growth in Canada slowed down in 2012. Real ICT investment increased only 5.0 per cent in 2012, down from 9.5 per cent in 2011 and 11.2 per cent in 2010. All three major ICT components – namely, computers, software, and telecommunications equipment – experienced a slow down in terms of real investment.
On July 26, 2013, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report entitled “A Detailed Analysis of Newfoundland and Labrador's Productivity Performance, 1997-2010: The Impact of the Oil Boom.” Propelled by the mining and oil and gas sector, Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy experienced impressive growth in the past decade. During the 1997-2010 period, real GDP in the province's business sector increased at nearly twice the rate of Canada's, while the province's labour productivity growth was more than three times greater than Canada's. This report provides a detailed analysis of Newfoundland and Labrador's productivity performance and the factors behind this performance. It identifies the province’s shift to high productivity oil extraction activities as the main factor responsible for this remarkable productivity growth, while also discussing the positive spill-over effects that this shift has had on Newfoundland and Labrador's economy as a whole. A press release is available for this report.
On May 29, 2013, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report entitled “Can the Canada-U.S. ICT investment Gap Be a Measurement Issue?” In 2011, information and communications technology (ICT) investment per worker in Canada was only 57.8 per cent of the U.S. level. The report investigates whether this investment gap is an artifact of methodological differences between Statistics Canada and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, finding that measurement issues account for only 10 per cent of the gap. This indicates that the Canada-U.S. ICT investment gap is a real phenomenon. Furthermore, the report finds that the gap is heavily concentrated in software investment and in a small number of ICT-intensive industries, particularly in information and cultural industries. A press release is available for this report.
On May 23, 2013, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report entitled "Labour Market Prospects for the Métis in the Canadian Mining Industry." The report argues that the Métis population has unique demographic characteristics – such as their youthfulness and their overrepresentation in rural and remote areas – that could create competitive advantages for employment in the mining industry in the medium-term. The report provides an overview of Métis participation in the Canadian mining industry, discussing potential barriers to Métis employment and highlighting actions and strategies that could help the Métis overcome these barriers and maximize their opportunities in the sector.
On May 23, 2013, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report entitled "Labour Market Information for Employers and Economic Immigrants in Canada: A Country Study," prepared for the International Organization for Migration. The report draws lessons from the Canadian immigration experience, examining the services provided to immigrants by the federal and provincial governments, and identifying best practices, which include: establishing national standards for the recognition of foreign qualification; simplifying the delivery of services by using one-stop shops or single-points-of-contact; involving local stakeholders in the development of policy and delivery of service; and maintaining a flexible immigration policy.
The Centre for the Study of Living Standards has organized six sessions for this year's Canadian Economic Association Annual Conference in Montreal, May 30 - June 2. The titles of the CSLS sessions are:
Aboriginal Labour Market and Education Issues (co-organized with the CD Howe Institute)
Income Inequality Issues (co-organized with Canada 2020)
Productivity Research from the United States, UK, France, and Canada (co-organized with Banque de France)
Panel on "What Has Happened to Living Standards in Canada?" (co-organized with the Progressive Economic Forum)
Panel on "Multifactor Productivity Growth in Canada: Trends, Measurement Issues and Interpretation?"
Productivity Developments at the Provincial Level in Canada
A full program of the Centre's sessions can be found here.
Details about the CEA 47th Annual Conference can be found on the CEA website.
On April 10, 2013, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released the Spring 2013 issue of the International Productivity Monitor. The issue contains a number of articles on the outlook for productivity growth by prominent economists. The lead article by Martin Baily from the Brooking Institution, James Manyika from the McKinsey Global Institute and Shalabh Gupta from McKinsey & Company provides an optimistic assessment of future productivity growth in the United States. In response, Robert J. Gordon from Northwestern University makes the case that slow productivity growth has returned after its temporary revival in the 1995-2004, and David Byrne from the Federal Reserve Board, Stephen Oliner from UCLA and the American Enterprise Institute and Dan Sichel from Wellesley College argue that the information revolution is not over and, as a result, US productivity growth may well return to its the long-term average growth rate of 2.25 per cent per year. Chad Syverson from the University of Chicago notes the similarities in the productivity growth paths between the electrification and IT eras, which might suggest a productivity resurgence.
Andrea De Michelis and Beth Anne Wilson from the Federal Reserve Board and Marcello Estevao from the IMF present evidence that firms adjust production efficiency in response to labour supply development, making total factor productivity growth endogenous. They conclude that for countries, like Canada, close to the technological frontier with good institutions and adequate support for research, development, and entrepreneurship, concerns about slow TFP growth may be less pressing as long as labour input growth remains strong. In the final article Bart van Ark, Vivian Chen and Kirsten Jager from the U.S. Conference Board provide a detailed examination of European productivity growth since 2000 and outline future prospects.
On December 19, 2012, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released the Fall 2012 issue of the International Productivity Monitor. The lead article by Dale Jorgenson from Harvard University provides an overview of the World KLEMS initiative, which puts together detailed industry-level productivity datasets for countries around the world.
The Fall issue also includes a symposium on the measurement of multifactor productivity in Canada. Erwin Diewert (UBC) and Emily Yu (DFAIT) construct alternative estimates for multifactor productivity in the Canadian business sector, arguing that Canada had a far better productivity performance than what the official numbers indicate. This sparks a highly relevant debate among experts in the area, with contributions by Wulong Gu (Statistics Canada); Paul Schreyer (OECD); and Michael Harper (former BLS), Alice Nakamura (University of Alberta) and Lu Zhang (University of Alberta).
Finally, the issue also contains articles by Barbara Fraumeni (University of Southern Maine) on the new concept of human capital productivity; Peter Jarrett (OECD) on the long-term outlook for economic and productivity growth in Canada; Ricardo de Avillez on how the choice of decomposition formula impacts estimated sectoral contributions to labour productivity growth in the Canadian business sector; and an interview by Chris Ragan (McGill University) with economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson on their recent book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty.
On September 27, 2012, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report entitled "The Impact of Redistribution on Income Inequality in Canada and the Provinces, 1981-2010.” Using data from Statistics Canada, the report provides an overview of trends in income inequality, defined as the Gini coefficient, in Canada and the provinces over the 1981-2010 period and investigates the impact of redistributive policies – namely, taxes and transfers – on these trends. Income inequality is measured in terms of market income, total income, and after-tax income, with the latter considered the most important from a well-being perspective. The report finds that government spending and transfers offset 44 per cent of the rise in the market income Gini coefficient between 1981 and 2010. A press release is available for this report
On September 25, 2012, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report entitled "Canadians Are Happy and Getting Happier: An Overview of Life Satisfaction in Canada: 2003-2011.” Using data from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey, the report finds that in 2011 92.3 per cent of Canadians 12 and over reported they were satisfied or very satisfied with their lives. This is up from 91.3 per cent in 2003. According to the Gallop World Poll Canada is the second most happy country in the world. A press release is available for this report.
On September 18, 2012, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report which concluded that in 2011, ICT investment continued to make a strong comeback in Canada following the decline in investment during the 2009 recession; however, ICT investment performance was not as strong as enjoyed in 2010. Tepid ICT investment growth in the non-business sector put downward pressure on total economy ICT investment growth, but the business sector’s solid ICT investment growth offset the non-business sector’s poor performance.
On June 25, 2012, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a study entitled “A Detailed Analysis of Nova Scotia’s Productivity Performance, 1997-2010”. The study was prepared for the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education, the Nova Scotia Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. It provides a detailed analysis of Nova Scotia’s labour and capital productivity performance and the factors behind this performance. It identifies weak machinery and equipment investment and low levels of business R&D as the two factors most responsible for the province’s productivity gap. A press release is available for this report.
On June 20, 2012, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a study entitled “Aboriginal Labour Market Performance in Canada: 2007-2011”. Using Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (which excludes Aboriginal Canadians living on-reserve), the report provides a portrait of the Aboriginal labour market in 2011 and compares Aboriginal labour market performance to non-Aboriginal Canadians over the 2007-2011 period at the national level, and also by gender, age group, province, and main heritage group (First Nations or Métis). The report also discusses the implications of future labour market developments for Aboriginal Canadians and for the labour market policies and programs that support their labour market performance. A press release is available for this report.
On May 17, 2012, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report analyzing the latest developments in ICT investment in Canada and the United States. The report finds that the Canada-U.S. ICT investment per worker gap continued widening in 2010, with the ratio of nominal ICT investment per worker in Canada relative to that of the United States falling from 53.5 per cent in 2009 to 53.0 per cent in 2010. The widening of the gap reflects the weak ICT investment growth in Canada in 2010. The report draws upon the 2010 update of the CSLS ICT Database.
The Centre for the Study of Living Standards has organized four sessions for this year's Canadian Economic Association Annual Conference, June 7-10, in Calgary. The titles of the CSLS sessions are:
Perspectives on First Nations Governance Issues
Issues on Aboriginal Economic Development
Canada’s Economic Destiny: The Outlook for Productivity Growth in Canada
New Approaches to Well-being and Poverty
A full program of the Centre's sessions can be found here.
Details about the CEA 45th Annual Conference can be found on the CEA website.
The economic and fiscal crisis in Greece continues to deepen, with the outcome at this point unknown. One scenario sees Greece leaving the euro zone, with very serious implications for Europe. To shed light on this perilous situation, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives organized a luncheon on May 1st, 2012 with Richard Parker from Harvard University. From 2009 to 2011 he served as economic advisor to Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, an experience that gives him a unique perspective on the Greek crisis. More information on the lecture "The Greek Economic Crisis and Implications for Europe" is available here
On April 12, 2012, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released the Spring 2012 issue of the International Productivity Monitor. The lead article Stimulating Innovation: Is Canada Pursuing the Right Policies? by Marcel Côté and Roger Miller from Secor argues that current policies to promote business innovation in Canada are not working and develops a new framework for understanding innovation.
Other articles are on new direct measures of the use of computer technologies in Canada and the United States and implications for Canadian productivity growth; the reasons behind the large divergence between labour productivity and real median wage growth in the United States over the 1973-2011 period; the relationship between educational attainment, employment rates and productivity in OECD countries; and the treatment in the national accounts of measures of volume output for education and health services. A press release for this publication is available here.
On March 1, 2012 the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released the update of the CSLS Productivity Database for the period 1997 to 2010 with estimates of productivity by province and industry.
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