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 December 5, 2016 the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released the report “New Evidence on the Canada-US ICT Investment Gap, 1976-2014” prepared for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. The report finds that ICT investment in Canada has performed poorly since 2008, with nominal ICT investment per job falling from 68.4 per cent of the U.S, level in 2008 to 56.3 per cent in 2014. One half of the gap in ICT investment per job between Canada and the United States in 2014 was accounted for by the information and communication industry. Professional, scientific and technical activities, and manufacturing and wholesale and retail trade accounted for almost all of the remaining gap. A press release is available for this report. The database for this report is available here.
On November 14, 2016, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released two reports on the disconnect between growth in labour productivity and median real hourly earnings in Canada and in 11 OECD countries. Canadian labour is more productive than ever before, but there is a pervasive sense among Canadians that the living standards of the 'middle class' have been stagnating. Indeed, over the 1976-2014 period, labour productivity in Canada grew by 1.1 per cent per year while median real hourly earnings grew by only 0.1 per cent per year. Rising earnings inequality, as proxied by faster growth in average wages than median wages, accounted for one half of the gap, and the declining share of labour in national income accounted for 30 per cent. Among OECD countries covered in the study the United States had by far the largest productivity/median earnings gap at 1.6 percentage points. This failure of the gains from productivity to flow to the middle class likely explains much of the angst expressed by U.S. voters during the course of the recent election. The experience should serve as a warning to governments in other countries. A press release is available for these reports. A Globe and Mail article is also available. An op-ed in the Financial Post is also available.
The Board of Directors of the Centre for the Study of Living Standards is pleased to announce the appointment of Don Drummond as the new chair of the organization, following the passing of Alan Nymark in May 2016. Don is one of Canada’s best known economists. He served as Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at the TD Bank from 2000 to 2010 and as Associate Deputy Minister of Finance from 2008 to 2010. He is currently the Stauffer-Dunning Fellow in Global Public Policy and Adjunct Professor at the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University. In 2011-12, he served as Chair for the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services.
On July 28, 2016, the CSLS released a report entitled The Human Development Index in Canada: Ranking the Provinces and Territories Internationally, 2000-2014 by James Uguccioni. This report provides internationally comparable estimates of the Human Development Index (HDI) for the Canadian provinces and territories from 2000 to 2014. The report explores a wide variation in the quality of life enjoyed by Canadians. It shows that while Albertans enjoy a quality of life similar to that of Switzerland or Denmark, residents of Nunavut face a quality of life similar to that of Latvia or Croatia. A press release is available for this report.
On July 18, 2016, the CSLS released a report entitled Further Evidence on the Contribution of Services Outsourcing to the Decline in Manufacturing’s Employment Share in Canada by Matthew Calver and Evan Capeluck. This report revisits the results of an earlier CSLS report to further examine how outsourcing of work from the manufacturing sector to the services sector contributed to the recorded decline in Canadian manufacturing employment over the past four decades. Utilizing new custom data products provided by Statistics Canada, the report finds that the contribution of services outsourcing to the decline of manufacturing’s employment share was quite small, explaining no more than 8.3 per cent.
On July 13, 2016, the CSLS released a report entitled Trends in Low Wage Employment in Canada: Incidence, Gap and Intensity, 1997-2014 by Jasmin Thomas. Using micro-data from the Labour Force Survey, the report provides a comprehensive analysis of the trends in low-wage incidence, gap and intensity. Low wage incidence is defined as the proportion of workers aged 20 to 64 earning less than two-thirds of the median hourly wage of full-time workers. The low-wage gap reflects the depth of low-wage employment. A measure of low-wage employment is arguably most the important component of job quality because an individual’s labour market earnings largely determine their living standards. In 2014, slightly more than one in four employees aged 20 to 64 years (27.6 per cent) were considered low-wage. A press release is available for this report. A Globe and Mail article is also available.
On July 5, 2016, the CSLS released a report entitled Slower Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being in the Canadian Context: A Discussion Paper by Mike Pennock from the B.C. Ministry of Health. The report investigates how slower economic growth will affect Canadian levels of well-being, arguing that the most serious threat to well-being that is associated with the slow-growth scenario is an expected increase in income inequality and household debt. Canada may be particularly vulnerable to these effects because it is entering a slow growth era with relatively high levels of inequality and household debt, relative to most other mature nations. A press release is available for this issue. A Hill Times Article is available.
On June 29, 2016, the CSLS released the Spring 2016 issue of the International Productivity Monitor. The issue features eight articles on a range of productivity issues: the challenges of measuring productivity in the digital economy; productivity trends and policies in Mexico; a comparison of Australian and Canadian productivity growth; productivity growth in U.S. agriculture; productivity in Canadian freight railways; global productivity growth; productivity convergence; and productivity strategies. A press release is available for this issue.
On June 28, 2016, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report entitled “Firm-level Total Factor Productivity: Canadian Freight Railways, 1986-2009" by James Uguccioni. This report estimates various productivity measures for Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP). Productivity growth at both railways significantly outperformed the Canadian economy throughout the period of study. Although CN's level of productivity was well below CP in the mid-1980s, it had become the leading firm by early 2000s.
On June 24, 2016, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report entitled “A Comparison of Australian and Canadian Productivity Performance: Lessons for Canada." This report examines the impact of public policy on Australia's productivity performance and discusses possible lessons for Canada from this experience. To do this, the report conducts a comprehensive analysis of the productivity performance of both countries, with particular interest in determining which underlying factors can explain Australia's superior productivity growth in recent years. In addition, the report discusses literature on the effects of public policy on Australian productivity performance since the 1990s. A press release is available here.
On May 15, 2016 CSLS Chair Alan Nymark passed away after a brief illness. The Board of Directors of the Centre for the Study of Living Standards extends its deepest sympathy to Alan’s family at this very difficult time. Alan’s passing is a massive loss to the CSLS. His leadership of the organization will be greatly missed. A celebration of Alan’s life will be held on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at the Westin Hotel at 1 PM. The obituary that appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on May 17 is available here.
The Centre for the Study of Living Standards has organized six sessions for this year's Canadian Economic Association Annual Conference at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Ontario from June 3 to June 5. The titles of the CSLS sessions are:
Aboriginal Governance and Economic Development Issues (joint with CD Howe)
Full Employment in the 21st Century: Relevant Policy? Attainable Goal?" - A Mike McCracken Memorial Panel (joint with PEF and CABE)
Is the Canadian Labour Market Generating High-Quality Jobs? (joint with PEF)
Perspectives on Productivity Issues
Is Effective Governance Feasible for All First Nations? (joint with CD Howe)
Perspectives on the Measurement of Economic Well-Being
A full program of the Centre's sessions can be found here.
Details about the CEA 50th Annual Conference can be found on the CEA website.
On April 6, 2016, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report entitled “Productivity Trends in the Canadian Transport Sector: An Overview” by Fanny McKellips and Matthew Calver. This report documents recent trends in productivity and related variables in Canada’s rail, air, trucking, and urban transit industries. Productivity growth has been quite strong in the trucking, air, and rails sectors due to technological advances, competitive pressures, deregulation, improved fuel efficiency, and capital investment. In contrast, productivity has fallen in the urban transit sector due in part to expansion of services. The report suggests several policy options to enhance transportation productivity going forward. A press release is available here.
On March 30, 2016, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a new study commissioned by The Conference Board of Canada entitled "Inclusive Growth: A New Approach to Economic Evaluation of Health Policy". The CSLS has also released an extended version of the report entitled "Measuring the Appropriate Outcomes for Better Decision-Making: A Framework to Guide the Analysis of Health Policy". Many economic evaluations of health policy struggle to include the monetary and non-monetary benefits of health and issues of inequality into a single metric. This study discusses how a new “inclusive growth” approach developed by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development can be applied to overcome this challenge when evaluating health policy. The methodology is applied to perform a decomposition of the contribution of reductions in mortality from specific causes of death to growth in the Canadian standard of living between 2000 and 2011. Based on an inclusive growth index of living standards, rising life expectancy was responsible for 40 per cent of growth in living standards over the period, while growth in income accounted for about 60 per cent. More specifically, 25 per cent of growth in the inclusive growth index of living standards was due to reduced mortality rates from cardiovascular disease and 10 per cent was due to reduced mortality rates from cancer. A press release is available here.
On March 17, 2016, the Centre for the Study of Living Standards released a report entitled "A New Role for Cost-Benefit Analysis in Canadian Transportation Infrastructure Investment" by David Lewis and Ian Currie. The report addresses a two-part problem for the federal government in the choice of infrastructure investments over the next decade: one is the need to select projects and plans that go beyond shovel-readiness and short term job creation and contribute to long-term net economic efficiency and societal gains; the second is the need to reconcile the competing claims of multiple stakeholder groups so that infrastructure investment decisions can be both good and expeditious. A press release is available here.