Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 15 No. 1 (Winter 2001)


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Canada: Life beyond the Looking Glass

Article Citation

Helliwell, John F. 2001. "Canada: Life beyond the Looking Glass." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 15(1): 107-124.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.15.1.107


Canada's population, a tenth that of the United States, is perched close to the U.S. northern border, tightly but asymmetrically tied to U.S. information networks. However, trade, capital and population mobility remains an order of magnitude tighter among provinces than between provinces and states. This separating effect of the national border is not primarily due to barriers, but to networks of contacts, trust and institutions that make it efficient to concentrate economic activity within national borders. This separation combines with quite different histories to explain why Canadian economic, social, education and health care policies remain distinct from U.S. policies, often closer to those in Northern Europe.

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Helliwell, John F. (U British Columbia and NBER)

JEL Classifications

O51: Economywide Country Studies: U.S.; Canada
I11: Analysis of Health Care Markets
E24: Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital
H20: Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue: General
J61: Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers


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