AAAE - Lars Osberg - "Canada’s Middle Class – Forever Further Behind? “

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Friday 13 October 2017, 12:00 - 13:45


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WHO: Lars Osberg, Professor, Dept. of Economics, Dalhousie University

Lars Osberg is currently McCulloch Professor of Economics at Dalhousie University, but he began life in Ottawa, Ontario.  As an undergraduate, he attended Queen’s University, Kingston and the London School of Economics and Political Science. After two years working for the Tanzania Sisal Corporation as a CUSO volunteer, he went to Yale University for his Ph.D. He has had visiting positions at Cambridge, New York University and the Universities of Sydney, New South Wales and Essex. During 2009-2010, he was Senior Visiting Research Fellow at Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Visiting Scholar at the Indira Ghandi Institute for Development Research. Mumbai, India. In 2014, he was Visiting Research Fellow in the Statistics Directorate, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris

His first book was Economic Inequality in Canada, and the most recent is The Economic Implications of Social Cohesion. In between there have been eight others and four editions of an introductory economics textbook.   He is also the author of numerous refereed articles in professional journals, book chapters, reviews, reports and miscellaneous publications. His current research emphasizes the measurement and determinants of poverty and economic insecurity, the implications of increasing inequality and the measurement of economic well-being. Among other professional responsibilities, he was President of the Canadian Economics Association in 1999-2000.

WHAT: Canada’s Middle Class – Forever Further Behind?

Abstract: Polling data reveals substantial discontent with middle class income growth in Canada. This paper uses data drawn from the census, from income tax records and from household surveys to demonstrate that within the “middle 60 to 80 percent” of the Canadian income distribution, the income stagnation of Canada’s inflation killing period from 1980-2000 contrasts with income gains for some during Canada’s oil boom period 2001-2014. Differences in income growth rates during the period 1980-2016 also produced some increase in inequality within the “middle class”. However, differences within the middle class and changes in their growth rates over time have been much smaller than the very large difference between income growth in the middle and income growth among the top 1%. The paper argues that the macro-economics of aggregate labour demand and supply have been crucial to the growth rate of middle class earnings – restrictive aggregate demand management in the 1980-2000 period and the investment stimulus of oil sands development during 2001-2014. The paper ends by presenting some illustrative calculations of the growth rates of median income which would be necessary for Canada’s middle class either to “keep up” or to “catch up” – i.e. either to stabilize the top/middle income ratio observed in 2014 or to restore the income ratio observed earlier. Comparison with current macro-economic growth forecasts indicates that neither is plausible.

WHEN: Friday, October 13th 2017, 12:00pm - 1:45pm (Atlantic Daylight Time)

WHERE: Bank of Canada regional office, 1701 Hollis St. (Founders Square), 13th Floor, Halifax, Nova Scotia

COST: Members: $10, Non-Members: $20 (A light lunch will be provided)

CONFERENCE CALL: A teleconference call option is available for those living outside of Halifax. The cost is the same as for in-person attendance.

REGISTRATION: Seating is limited and spaces will be reserved until we reach capacity. Visit the CABE Store to register for this event. You must register no later than end of day Wednesday 11th October. 

MEMBERSHIP: Please note that AAAE membership is valid from September 1st, 2017 to August 31st, 2018. To join the AAAE or to renew your membership, please click here.

UPCOMING EVENTS: Mark your calendar for the following AAAE events:

November TBC: Bank of Canada – MPR update and TBC

December 15 (TBC): Early Career Economists Panel


Location Bank of Canada Atlantic Regional Office
1701 Hollis St., 13th Floor
B3J 3M8
Contact Tara Ainsworth, Treasurer, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.