Quebec developed more quickly during the Great Darkness than during the Quiet Revolution
Tuesday, January 15, 2012 – Most historians claim that the province of Quebec experienced a dark period during the “Grande Noirceur” or “Great Darkness.” However, the statistical data for the period contradict this interpretation. Far from experiencing the relative decline and growing gap suggested by history books, Quebec instead went through a period of “Great Convergence” both economically and socially from 1945 to 1960, according to Vincent Geloso, Ph.D. candidate in economic history at the London School of Economics and author of a publication released today by the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI).
In terms of postsecondary education, for example, for every 100 Ontarians with a university degree, only 71 Quebecers had one in 1951. Ten years of “Great Darkness” later, this proportion had risen to 85. Then during the “Quiet Revolution,” Quebec reversed course and lost some of the ground it had gained, this figure falling to 78 in 1981. The latest available data indicate that this ratio now stands at 80.
Furthermore, economic growth in the postwar years was also characterized by great convergence. The gap between personal disposable income per Quebec resident relative to the rest of Canada was reduced by 8.8 percentage points from 1945 to 1960, but by only 3.7 more points from 1960 to 1975.
“The establishment of a more interventionist government beginning in the 1960s therefore did not accelerate Quebec’s convergence. At best, the progress initiated in earlier years relative to the other provinces continued at a somewhat slower pace. At worst, some of the gains were eroded, as in the case of postsecondary education,” concludes Mr. Geloso.
The Economic Note entitled When Did Quebec Catch Up Economically? is an adapted excerpt from Vincent Geloso’s book, Grand rattrapage et déclin tranquille : Une histoire économique et sociale du Québec depuis 1900, forthcoming in February 2013. The Note can be consulted free of charge on our website.
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