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Small Differences That Matter

Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States

This volume, the first in a new series by the National Bureau of Economic Research that compares labor markets in different countries, examines social and labor market policies in Canada and the United States during the 1980s. It shows that subtle differences in unemployment compensation, unionization, immigration policies, and income maintenance programs have significantly affected economic outcomes in the two countries.

For example:

-Canada’s social safety net, more generous than the American one, produced markedly lower poverty rates in the 1980s.
-Canada saw a smaller increase in earnings inequality than the United States did, in part because of the strength of Canadian unions, which have twice the participation that U.S. unions do.

-Canada’s unemployment figures were much higher than those in the United States, not because the Canadian economy failed to create jobs but because a higher percentage of nonworking time was reported as unemployment.

These disparities have become noteworthy as policy makers cite the experiences of the other country to support or oppose particular initiatives.

Table of Contents


David Card

Richard B. Freeman
1. Immigration Policy, National Origin, And Immigrant Skills: A Comparison Of Canada And The United States, George J. Borjas
2. Skill Differentials In Canada In An Era Of Rising Labor Market Inequality, Richard B. Freeman, Karen Needels
3. Unions And Wage Inequality In Canada And In The United States, Thomas Lemieux
4. Unionization In Canada And The United States: A Tale Of Two Countries, W. Craig Riddell
5. A Comparative Analysis Of Unemployment In Canada And The United States, David Card, W. Craig Riddell
6. Responding To Need: A Comparison Of Social Safety Nets In The United States And Canada, Rebecca M. Blank, Maria J. Hanratty
7. The Distribution Of Family Income: Measuring And Explaining Changes In The 1980s For Canada And The United States, Mckinley L. Blackburn, David E. Bloom

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