Annual EBHS Conference, 39th Annual Economic and Business History Society Conference

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A history of prices in New France, 1688 to 1760
Vincent Geloso

Last modified: 2014-03-10


The study of the early economic history of Quebec when it was known as New France has been hindered for long by the absence of a price index over which to deflate estimations of outputs. Using a new dataset, I attempt to create different measures of prices and their evolution over time. The most reliable estimates are derived for the period from 1688 to 1740 which shows a slightly declining trend with an important bump between 1715 and 1719. The period from 1740 onwards is harder to estimate but the most conservative estimates do indicate an important increase in prices which is probably the combined results of increasing monetary base and of a collapsing level of aggregate supply.  These price indices represent the first step in the elaboration of a measure of real living standards and output in New France.  Ultimately, they will allow us to compare the economic growth of French colonies in North America with the neighbouring American colonies before the War of Independence and the Seven Years War.