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The Progressive Economics Forum

In Memoriam: Perspectives on Labour and Income

Another sad tombstone to the shrinkage of information for informed social and economic policy – Statscan has decided to discontinue “Perspectives on Labour and Income” in both print and online format.

For as long as I can remember, Perspectives reliably provided a firm empirical base for policy debate on key labour market and income issues -  everything from rising income and wealth inequality, to  changes in the quality of jobs, to the relation between changes in households and labour markets, to  the state of  pensions,.

The published studies were accessible, scrupulously impartial, and encouraged other researchers to dig deeper into the data. Often, these studies were based on data not readily available to others (such as tax based records) and they helped improve the quality of the underlying surveys. While it is a bit invidious to single out individuals, Perspectives contributions by Michael Wolfson, Garnett Picot, Rene Morrissette, Diane Galernau, Ross Finnie, Brian Murphy, John Myles and Katherine Marshall among many others were all reliably interesting and pertinent.

At a time when we are losing key sources of data – a reliable long form census, longitudinal surveys, the workplace survey – the loss of a regular source of Statscan analysis is especially troubling.

Statscan promises a new online publication on social statistics from the fall, but I strongly suspect that it just won’t be the same.

Meanwhile, Miles Corak has posted an excellent commentary on the demise of Statscan longitudinal surveys.

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Comments

Comment from Toby Sanger
Time: June 19, 2012, 11:31 am

Well-said, Andrew.

Statistics Canada also announced this morning that they are also terminating “Canadian Social Trends”, which has been a sister publication to their Perspectives on Labour and Income — after a quarter century of publication.

Here’s the notice

“This is the final print edition of Canadian Social Trends. The last online edition of the publication will be released in July 2012. In future, analytical articles on social, economic and demographic changes will appear on Statistics Canada’s website in a new publication on social statistics, which will be available free of charge in fall 2012.”

Just as the federal government has increasingly been reduced to a cheque-clearing agency with a large security and intelligence appendage, I fear they are making Statscan into a diminished data clearing agency with less analytical value-added, which both of these publications provided.

Comment from Tom Fuller
Time: June 19, 2012, 12:47 pm

Distressing news indeed! Not only did the articles in PL&I sometimes cite evidence not available to other researchers, but they often pulled together data from numerous different StatsCan sources to produce rigorous and reliable analyses.

I have relied on PL&I for years, and will feel its loss acutely.

Comment from Paul Tulloch
Time: June 19, 2012, 2:32 pm

I worked in this shop for a year or so and it was a very special dedicated group that strove to make this publication into the flagship it was. Ted Wannell was the leader of the group and a friend, and for the last 10 odd years, helped by a many, pushed this pub even further into relevance.

I would like to say- never say never, there will be a relaunch in just over 3 or so years- bigger and better than ever. Just hold tight and watch as the tories fall into political disorder.

Take care.

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