Why the recession is slightly less bad in Canada

There's an interesting piece in the NYT's Economix blog today, itself an exploration of an earlier article written by Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria. Both attempt to explain why Canada is so far weathering the economic crisis better than its southern neighbour.

The points are interesting:

  • Centralized banking regulation has protected Canadian financial institutions from toxic debt and collapse in other countries;
  • Our "single payer" model of public healthcare reduces complexity and per-person cost compared to the American model. More importantly, Canadian retain health coverage even if they are unemployed. In the USA, if you lose your job, you lose your private insurance; and
  • Canadian employment insurance replaces more lost wages than the American system (78 per cent as opposed to 52 per cent.

Of course, none of these provisions are possible without public support. The really interesting idea in the NYT article is that the structure of Canadian society allows for greater recession resilience. Lower income inequality and norms of mutual support (linked to our multiculturalism) create public support for the measures that have so far insulated Canada from the more serious depredations of the recession. There's a reason why you don't see mas foreclosures and bankruptcy in Canada, and it has a lot to do with how we conduct ourselves

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as a society.

Anyways, an interesting read. And a little sunshine for Canucks concerned about the meltdown.