AIMS president misses the mark

Brian Lee Crowley of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) is supposed to be today’s keynote speaker at a Frontier Centre for Public Policy lunch event at the Fort Garry Hotel. Though I won’t be on hand for the event, I did have a chance to look at sales pitch put out by the Frontier Centre.

If you haven’t heard of AIMS, it’s more or less a Halifax-based regional version of the Fraser Institute — a proponent of deregulation, lower taxes and privatization.

Thus, the Frontier Centre used its luncheon notice to throw out a bit of red meat to Winnipeggers awaiting the arrival of an ideological revolution along the lines of what happened in Britain and New Zealand in the ’80s and ’90s:

“In the 1960s, our huge Boomer generation helped create widespread joblessness and anxiety. That, plus Quebec’s recurring threat to break-up the country, caused Canada to jettison its traditional values — a ferocious work ethic, a commitment to the family as the most important social institution, a suspicion of overweening government and an aversion to dependence — in favour of a vast expansion of the welfare state.”

Rather bold stuff.

In his speech, Crowley is expected to expound on how he believes that the work ethic has been undermined in Canada by the welfare state, and to conclude his talk with a call to roll back government regulation and social programs.

The funny thing, though, is that OECD statistics seem to suggest that Canada’s work ethic is quite healthy by international standards — contradicting Crowley’s pessimistic outlook on the Canadian labour force.

For example, the chart below shows the incidence of long-term unemployment — that is, unemployment of 12 months’ duration or more — as a percentage of all unemployment. The incidence of long-term unemployment is lower in Canada than in just about any other country covered by the OECD, except for New Zealand, Mexico and South Korea.

Long-term unemployment rates by country, 2007: People unemployed 12 months or more as a percentage of all unemployed people.

Long-term unemployment rates by country, 2007: People unemployed 12 months or more as a percentage of all unemployed people. Source: OECD

It’s also interesting to look at how many hours the average employed person puts in per year. Canadians by no means put in the longest hours, but there’s a gap of less than five percent between us and the famous long-hours cultures of Japan and the United States. (We should not, however, seek to close that gap. As working hours go up, productivity and economic well-being tends to go down — as can be seen by comparing the relatively low-income countries at the top of the chart to the high-income countries at the bottom.)

Average working hours per employee by country, 2008. (Source: OECD)

Average working hours per employee by country, 2008. (Source: OECD)


OECD in Figures

OECD StatExtracts


About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

8 Responses to AIMS president misses the mark

  1. Nice work, as always.

    As is usually the way with right-wing think tanks like AIMS and the Frontier Centre, the argument has less to do with presenting empirical data than with promoting myths meant to lay the foundation for their pre-packaged ideological prescriptions.

  2. theviewfromseven says:

    Thanks, PT! I agree with you. While there are some think tanks out there like the Canada West Foundation that do thoughtful analysis, others like the Fraser Institute and its imitators have become so ideological that they’re increasingly difficult to take seriously.

  3. Tnelson says:

    Your site was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last Thursday.

  4. If I may be so bold, you completely miss the point. Since my book argues that the damage was done in the period roughly from 1965-1985, and that we have slowly been finding our way back since then, your arguing that today, twenty years into the recovery, we are doing better, hardly invalidates my argument, which you obviously have taken absolutely no trouble to inquire into, let alone understand. There may be ideologues to be deplored on this webpage, but I am not one of them (-;

  5. Benson Bear says:

    Mr Crowley, What pages in the book give the statistical information that refute the claims made by the original post above? Claims that show Canada is some kind of outlier amongst OECD countries? I could not find any such thing in the book. It doesn’t help that there is no index in the book,

  6. Benson Bear says:

    Similarly, to the blog owner, do you have a reply to Mr Crowley anywhere? We need to see the trends in these figures, simultaneously, for a good selection of OECD countries.

  7. Benson Bear says:

    To refute the graph above, Mr Crowley claims we were moving downwards from 1965 to 1985, but “finding our way back since then”. Yet among the very first, if not the first, trends he gives in his book is on p30, where he takes 1980 as a starting point for a negative fertility comparison with the United States. In 1980, we had 25% more children than the US, but now our fertility level is “a quarter less”, he claims and laments., Oops.

  8. theviewfromseven says:

    If memory serves me correctly, it is possible to get trend data from the OECD’s online statistics portal. I might write something about those trends in the future if it turns out to be relevant to something happening in the news or to something the public is talking about.

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