Welcome to the Productivity Partnership's summer newsletter!

In this newsletter:



Call for proposals:
Survey on Financing and Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SFGSME)

Deadline: November 4
Webinar: October 9

Statistics Canada is launching a new pilot project with the Survey on Financing and Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises 2014 (SFGSME) linked to administrative data and is now inviting interested researchers to submit proposals. The SFGSME is an enterprise-level survey designed to document what financing small and medium enterprises are using, and to collect information on recent attempts to obtain new financing. The database also contains information on barriers to growth, the financial position of SMEs, the characteristics of ownership and the extent to which the enterprise is involved in innovation and intellectual property. To help prepare your proposal, we invite you to review the Data dictionary. Read the call for proposals for all details.


Since the start of the Partnership, we have funded 25 research project with more coming on a regular basis.

The following are some of the projects that have been approved for funding since our previous newsletter.
Title: The Effect of Robotics Investments on Firm Productivity and Employment:  Evidence from Canadian Microdata 
Researchers: Jay Dixon (Statistics Canada) & Bryan Hong (Western University / New York University)

As robotics technologies have become both more advanced and affordable for adoption by firms, there has been growing academic interest in understanding the effects of robotics on firm productivity and on employees within organizations (Acemoglu and Restrepo 2016, Agarwal et al. 2017, Brynjolfsson and Mitchell 2017, Felten et. al 2018).  However, to date there has been no published work examining a fundamental question—have investments in robots increased firm productivity?  Preliminary work thus far on employment effects has also faced limitations due to coarse measures of employee skills and occupations.  The scope of the project includes answering the following questions: 

  1. What is the effect of robot investments on Canadian firm productivity?
  2. What is the effect of robot investments on aggregate employment within the firm?
  3. Do robots heterogeneously affect the employment of different types of workers within the firm?  For example, are certain worker types more likely to be displaced by robots relative to others (high skilled, low skilled, managers)?

Datasets: National Accounts Longitudinal Microdata File (NALMF), Workplace and Employee Survey (WES) 

Title: The impact of minimum wage increases on firm productivity
Researchers: Lyming Huang (Carleton University) & Matthew Webb (Carleton University)

While there is a large body of literature studying the impact of minimum wages on employment, there is less research into how minimum wages affect firms. Minimum wages increase the cost of paying workers to firms. This gives firms a strong incentive to look for efficiencies, such as increasing performance standards or asking for greater proficiency in job duties. If workers can accomplish more in the same amount of time, they justify their pay increases; if this happens on large enough scale, the result is higher firm productivity. We will study minimum wage increases in Canada from 2001 to 2015 and explore whether these increases resulted in higher firm productivity.

DatasetsNational Accounts Longitudinal Microdata File (NALMF)

Title: Import wholesalers and the effect of trade on domestic producers
Researchers: Aldo Sandoval Hernandez (Western) & Ananth Ramanarayanan (Western)

Recent empirical evidence for several countries suggests that wholesalers are actively engaged in international trade, and Canada is not the exception. Custom-level data indicates that in 2009 establishments in the wholesale trade sector accounted for 49% of the total import value, a number that has almost doubled since 2002 when that share was 27%. Given that wholesalers carry substantial amounts of trade and control vast distribution networks, their import decisions ultimately determine how the gains from trade spread to domestic consumers and producers. Moreover, whether those imports directly compete with Canadian-made goods or could be used as inputs of production, wholesalers’ import activity will different implications in terms of turnover, labor, productivity and market shares of the manufacturing firms. Using a unique dataset that links administrative data with import transactions for nearly all Canadian enterprises, this project aims to identify the multiple margins that manufacturing firms adjust in response to higher import penetration in consumption and intermediate goods by wholesalers. Then informed by what is observed on the data, this project uses a quantitative trade model to study the different mechanisms through which intermediation can affect the magnitude and incidence of the gains from trade.

DatasetsNational Accounts Longitudinal Microdata File (NALMF)

Unsure what is possible using CDER datasets?

Explore the presentation 'Exploring Research Opportunities through the Productivity Partnership' to find out what is possible.

We've created an interactive online presentation on how to utilize the Productivity Partnership to access data at the Statistics Canada Centre for Data Development and Economic Research (CDER). The presentation outlines each data set’s highlights and explains the application processes for both the Partnership and CDER. This project is targeted primarily toward prospective applicants and website viewers, but is designed to be informative and accessible to all audiences. 


Have an idea for a project on productivity?

 Visit our website to learn more about how to apply for project funding.


QICSS International Conference 2018: Immigrations's Impact, Immigrants' outcomes: New results using business & social data  

October 11- 12 | HEC Montréal, Montréal QC  

The international conference " Impact of Immigration, Implications for Immigrants: New Results Using Business and Social Data " will bring together Quebec and Canadian researchers specializing in these new data as well as internationally recognized experts in this field. David Card (University of California) and Richard Alba (City University of New York) are among the guest speakers.

This conference is organized by the Quebec Interuniversity Center for Social Statistics and the Productivity Partnership, in collaboration with the Canadian Research Data Centre Network, the Center for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organizations (CIRANO) and HEC Montréal.

Registration and the conference program are now available.

CRDCN 2018 National Conference: Building an inclusive, prosperous and healthy Canada: What can we learn from the data?

October 18-19 | McMaster University, Hamilton ON

Evidence-based policy requires evidence.  Over the past 18 years, the CRDCN has provided researchers with high-quality data to help inform policy-making designed to improve the life of Canadians. This year, the annual Network conference features papers from those who have used an RDC or other large-scale survey or administrative data sources to improve our understanding of Canada's diverse society. The Productivity Partnership is one of the co-sponsors of the event.

Conference Highlights:
  • The two-day conference includes continental breakfasts, lunches and a banquet at the Art Gallery of Hamilton on the Thursday night which will include a visit of the Gallery.
  • A special Address by Anil Arora, the Chief Statistician of Canada, who will discuss future directions for Statistics Canada, as 2018 marks the agency's 100th anniversary
  • Two keynote speakers: Matthew Mendelsohn, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Results & Delivery), Government of Canada and Nicole Fortin, Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia
  • Awards for the best poster presentations.
  • Working breakfasts with with Pierre Turcotte, Status of Women Canada and Brad Seward, Mowat Centre
Pre-conference workshops - October 17 - Wilson Hall, McMaster University
  • 9h00-12h00
    • New and forthcoming datasets in the RDCs: employment and education (room TBA)
    • Spatial perspective and mapping: introduction to statistical analysis using R, ArcGIS Pro, and Insights for ArcGIS (room TBA)
  • 12h00-13h30 Lunch
  • 13h30-17h00
    • New and forthcoming datasets in the RDCs: health and immigration (room TBA)
    • Putting the squeeze on big data: Using SAS to prepare large datasets (room TBA)
Early bird registration ends September 16.
Preliminary program is now online.


Some of the over 100 associates of the Productivity Partnership after one of the Partnership sessions at the Canadian Economics Association meetings in Montreal in June.

3rd Workshop on the Applications of Industrial Organization: Estimating Productivity

September 7-8 | HEC Montréal, Montréal QC  

The Productivity Partnership in collaboration with the Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, HEC Montréal, Dean of Arts Development Fund, and the Institute for Research on Public Policy, was pleased to present this workshop featuring the following speakers and panelists:
  • Daniel Ackerberg (University of Texas, Austin)
  • Robert Bray (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University)
  • Joanne Castonguay (IRPP)
  • Wulong Gu (Statistics Canada)
  • Simone Lenzu (New York University, Stern)
  • Amil Petrin (University of Minnesota)
  • David Rivers (Western University)
  • Margaret Slade (University of British Columbia)
  • Frederic Warzynski (Aarhus University)
Registration and the full program can be found on the conference website.

Canadian Economics Association Annual Meeting

June 3 | McGill University, Montréal QC

The Productivity Partnership hosted two data school sessions. Dr. Jiang Beryl Li, Productivity Partner Statistics Canada Liaison Researcher, gave an overview and update on recent developments on business microdata at CDER. The second session consisted of presentations from researchers whose projects have been funded by the Partnership:
  • Akio Yamazaki (University of Calgary): Carbon Tax, Productivity, and Reallocation: Lessons from Canadian Manufacturing Plants
  • Wessel Nicolaas Vermeulen (Newcastle University): Firms' Performance in a Natural Resource Based Economy: Evidence from Canadian plants
  • Stephanie Houle (McMaster University): Do Investment Agreements Necessarily Cause Offshoring? The Canada-Peru Case
  • Loretta Fung (National Tsing Hua University): Empirical Investigation in Cross Border Travel between Canada and the United States
  • Gorkem Ozdemir (HEC Montréal): Employment Growth and Financial Frictions at Firm Level: Empirical Evidence From Canada

Co-hosted sessions with the Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS)

The Productivity Partnership also co-hosted three sessions on Canada's post-2000 productivity performance with Centre for the Study of Living Standards (Partnership collaborator): 

Explaining Canada's Post-2000 Productivity Performance I: Setting the Stage

Explaining Canada's Post-2000 Productivity Performance II: The Role of Technology

Explaining Canada's Post-2000 Productivity Performance III: Can the Productivity Slowdown be Reversed and If So, How?

  • Catherine Beaudry (École Polytechique de Montréal)
  • Paul Boothe (Western University)
  • Don Drummond (Queen's University)
  • Daniel Trefler (University of Toronto)
  Presentations are available on the Partnership website.


Our website has a number of working papers, presentations, journals articles and commentary.

Misallocation and Trade Policy

M. Jahangir Alam (HEC Montréal / Statistics Canada)

This study investigates whether the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (CUSFTA) reduced resource misallocation in Canada. The implementation of CUSFTA can be viewed as a natural experiment, which makes it an ideal setting for estimating the causal effect of trade policy on the misallocation of resources. I perform this estimation using a dynamic panel data model with data from the Canadian Annual Surveys of Manufactures (ASM) for the period from 1980 to 1996. I use tariff rates from Trefler (2004) and measure resource misallocation using the dispersion in revenue total factor productivity (TFP) within industries. I find that CUSFTA did reduce resource misallocation by approximately four percent and, consequently, increased TFP by around four percent in Canada. This increase in TFP translates into a contribution of 23 percent to the overall TFP growth of Canada's manufacturing sector.

Productivity Gains from International Trade: Does Firm Age Matter?

M. Jahangir Alam (HEC Montréal / Statistics Canada)

It has been well established that international trade generates productivity gains within industries by reallocating inputs from low-productivity to high-productivity firms. However, the literature does not differentiate between young economies–that is, economies with a relatively large proportion of young firms–and old economies. To compare the productivity gains between young and old economies, I use European firm-level data during the period 2006 to 2014. The results of my study support the common finding in the extant literature that productivity gains are higher in any economy with more international trade. However, I also find that such gains are approximately five times higher for younger economies. I show that this is due to higher degrees of productivity dispersion within industries in younger economies.

Debt, Defaults and Dogma: politics and the dynamics of sovereign debt markets

Johnny Cotoc (McMaster University), Alok Johri (McMaster University) and César Sosa-Padilla (University of Notre Dame)

Using data from 40 nations, we obtain new stylized facts regarding the impact of polit-ical leanings of the ruling government on sovereign debt yields and fiscal policy. Left-wing governments’ yields are 166 basis points higher and 23% more volatile than yields of right-wing governments. Moreover, left-wing governments face more counter-cyclical yields. Left-wing governments have higher levels of government spending and right-wing governments collect lower tax revenue as a percent of GDP. A calibrated sovereign de-fault model with elections and two politically heterogeneous policy makers who differ in the marginal impact of their fiscal choices on their re-election probabilities delivers the above-mentioned facts.

Estimating the impacts of payroll taxes: Evidence from Canadian employer-employee tax data

Benoit Dostie (HEC Montréal) and Robert Gagné (HEC Montréal)

In this paper, we use linked employer-employee administrative tax data from Canada to estimate the impact of payroll taxes on a variety of firms and workers outcomes. At the firm level, we use geographic and time variations in tax rates to identify the effect of payroll taxes on wage growth at the worker level. For one province, we exploit a clean overtime change in the payroll tax rate to estimate its impact on the firm’s level of employment, average wage and productivity, with difference-in-differences models, taking into account firm-level unobserved heterogeneity. Additionally, taking advantage of the nature of linked data, we estimate wage equations with both fixed worker and firm fixed effects. We find no impact on employment, productivity and profits, but significant impacts on wages, implying that payroll taxes are passed almost entirely to workers in the form of lower wages.


Below is a selection of Partnership news. Follow us on Twitter for up-to-date news.

New positions

Congratulations to the following Partnership associates on their new positions:

Miguel Cardoso has joined the Department of Economics at Brock University as a Lecturer. Miguel received research assistantships and project funding from the Partnership.

Angela Di Nello is taking leave from her position as Productivity Partnership Research Coordinator to take a two-year career growth position as Operations Manager at Research & High-Performance Computing Support (RHPCS) at McMaster University. Their last day is Thursday September 13.

For Productivity Partnership-related business, please use

Stephanie Houle has successfully defended her PhD thesis, Essays in Finance and International Trade and has started as a post-doctoral fellow at Statistics Canada's Canadian Center for Data Development and Economic Research. Stephanie received research assistantships and project funding from the Partnership.

James Stutely is doing an internship at the Department of Finance, Canada for Fall, 2018. James is a PhD candidate and received a research assistantship from the Partnership.

Rumaiya Tanzin will be on co-op placement as a junior analyst in the Investment Strategy and Analysis Division for Global Affairs Canada.


Congratulations to the following PhD students from McMaster University who have received Productivity Partnership studentships: M Imjamam Alam, Sara Kamali Anaraki, Ionut Johnny Cotoc, Alyssa Drost, Anthony Hong, Julius Owusu, Zvezdomir Todorov


Salvador Navarro has received Western's prestigious 2018 Faculty Scholar Award, which recognizes scholarly achievements of a faculty member in a critical point in their career who has maintained an excellent record in teaching and research. In particular, Salvador was recognized for his work on the measurement of firm productivity.

Journal Articles

Complementarity of Performance Pay and Task Allocation
Management Science 
Bryan Hong (Western University & Partnership Collaborator)
Lorenz Kueng (Northwestern University & Partnership Collaborator)
Mu-Jeung Yang (University of Washington & Partnership Collaborator)

Complementarity between performance pay and other organizational design elements has been argued to be one potential explanation for stark differences in the observed productivity gains from performance pay adoption. Using detailed data on internal organization for a nationally representative sample of firms, we empirically test for the existence of complementarity between performance pay incentives and decentralization of decision-making authority for tasks. To address endogeneity concerns, we exploit regional variation in income tax progressivity as an instrument for the adoption of performance pay. We find systematic evidence of complementarity between performance pay and decentralization of decision-making from principals to employees. However, adopting performance pay also leads to centralization of decision-making authority from non-managerial to managerial employees. The findings suggest that performance pay adoption leads to a concentration of decision-making control at the managerial employee level, as opposed to a general movement towards more decentralization throughout the organization. The Productivity Partnership supported this work.


Greig Mordue, Partnership co-investigator, discusses the trade tiff between Canada & the US on CBC's On the Money (segment appears at 25:30 mark).
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