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This book upturns many established ideas regarding the economic and social history of Quebec, the Canadian province that is home to the majority of its French population. It places the case of Quebec into the wider question of convergence in economic history and whether proactive governments delay or halt convergence.
The period from 1945 to 1960, infamously labelled the Great Gloom (Grande Noirceur), was in fact a breaking point where the previous decades of relative decline were overturned – Geloso argues that this era should be considered the Great Convergence (Grand Rattrapage). In opposition, the Quiet Revolution that followed after 1960 did not accelerate these trends. In fact, there are signs of slowing down and relative decline that appear after the 1970s. The author posits that the Quiet Revolution sowed the seeds for a growth slowdown by crowding-out social capital and inciting rent-seeking behaviour on the part of interest groups.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. Introduction

Abstract
In 1982, novelist Anne Hébert won the Prix Fémina for Les Fous de Bassan, which tells the story of a murder committed on Québec’s North Shore at the time of the “Great Darkness” (la Grande Noirceur). The short novel perfectly illustrates our current perception of Québec in the 1940s and 1950s: underdeveloped, poor and backward. History books tell a story similar to Hébert’s, a sombre view of a blighted period in our history from the end of the Second World War to the beginning of the 1960s.
Vincent Geloso

2. Québec’s Economic Development From 1900 to 1939

Abstract
Modern Québec history begins around 1900, that is with the advent of the industrial revolution within its territory. Starting with industrialization at the turn of the twentieth century, Québec, as in the rest of Canada, saw a remarkable period of economic growth that led to gains in quality of life for its people. According to economist André Raynauld,
Vincent Geloso

3. The Great Catch-Up of 1945–1960: Economic Conditions

Abstract
If some of these patterns had continued to 1960, then the epithet “Great Darkness” (Grande Noirceur) would hold true for this period. Considering the strong links between education and economic development, Québec’s ongoing relative stagnation surely must have meant that its people were less educated and in poorer health than its neighbours. And hence we could justifiably continue to use the term “Great Darkness.”
Vincent Geloso

4. The Great Catch-Up of 1945–1960: Health and Education

Abstract
The years between the advent of industrialization and the start of the Second World War were a watershed for Québec’s public health. During this period, Québec underwent a demographic transition characterized by a reduction in mortality rates, followed by a diminished birthrate. The decline in mortality rates was the more striking of these two facts.
Vincent Geloso

5. The Great Catch-Up of 1945–1960: Quebeckers’ Social Behaviour and the Church

Abstract
It is impossible to speak of the era known as the “Great Darkness” without acknowledging the cliché of the Catholic Church’s dominion over social and economic life in Québec. It is a fact that French Canadians were by and large devout Catholics and that the Church exerted a considerable amount of influence over society.
Vincent Geloso

6. Explaining the Great Stagnation

Abstract
As we have seen in previous chapters of this volume, from 1945 to 1960 Quebeckers lived through a period of great prosperity and progress: they became wealthier, healthier and better educated; furthermore, their behaviours evolved without the considerable increase in state involvement in social and economic affairs that was observed after 1960.
Vincent Geloso

7. Explaining the Transition to the Great Catch-up

Abstract
So were these anti-industrialization Québec institutions able to evolve in any way, and if so, how? An emerging area of research known as New Institutional Economics will help us answer such questions.
Vincent Geloso

8. The Quiet Decline (1960–Today): Economic Conditions

Abstract
Québec has changed since 1960. The Quiet Revolution was without a doubt an important phase of Québec’s history, but it is one worth revisiting under a more focused lens. How indeed did the term “Quiet Revolution” come about? It seems it first emerged during a press conference by Jean Lesage, who had been elected premier on 22 June 1960.
Vincent Geloso

9. The Quiet Decline (1960–Today): Education

Abstract
In the education sector, Québec made considerable progress during the Quiet Revolution. These advancements are constantly lauded in history textbooks, where they are given significance beyond their due. Regardless of the indicators that are used, school attendance by young Quebeckers in elementary and secondary schools increased considerably between 1960 and 1975; these figures would increase more quickly than in the rest of Canada, to the extent that starting in 1971, Québec managed to overtake the rest of Canada (see Fig. 58).
Vincent Geloso

10. Explaining the Quiet Decline

Abstract
The role that institutions played in Québec’s economic growth is rarely recognized as much it ought. Yet, the outcome of the Quiet Revolution for the institutions can help explain why this period would have such disappointing outcomes. These institutions (or voluntary associations) produce what economists and sociologists call “social capital.”
Vincent Geloso

11. Conclusion

Abstract
What we have outlined here, supported by statistics and under the lens of economic science, is a counterfactual portrait of the Quiet Revolution: we have shown that a large part of the progress made during those years would have occurred anyway, even if the State had not intervened on as large a scale as it has done since 1960.
Vincent Geloso

Backmatter

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