“There is scarcely any inquiry more curious, or, from its importance, more worthy of attention, than that which traces the causes which practically check the progress of wealth in different countries, and stop it, or make it proceed very slowly, while the power of production remains comparatively undiminished, or at least would furnish the means of a great and abundant increase of produce and population.” This introductory sentence is borrowed from T. R. Malthus' Principles of Political Economy, Book II, “On the Progress of Wealth” (2nd ed.), p. 309.
It is indeed curious that 152 years after Malthus' inquiry, and, what is more, twenty-six years after the Keynesian revolution, stunted growth remains a problem. Canada, for example, is exceptionally well endowed with natural riches, has a relatively well-educated, young, and increasing population, and enjoys a privileged position alongside the world's richest market. Yet, Canadian economic growth has been mysteriously stunted. Although Canada's recent evolution is perhaps the most puzzling to a foreign observer, stunted growth is not peculiar to this country. The United Kingdom, Belgium, and the United States are other instances. Until some ten years ago, France was generally considered as irretrievably condemned to economic stagnation, owing, it was said, to the characteristics of her population, and her institutions.