Measuring Ontario’s Prosperity: Developing an Economic Indicator System

Released August 2002

The second Working Paper, Measuring Ontario’s Prosperity: Developing an Economic Indicator System, follows the Institute’s first Working Paper, released in late April, with an analysis of the elements that drive GDP per person and a proposed measurement system for tracking Ontario’s economic performance against North American jurisdictions with population greater than six million.

The Working Paper demonstrates that while Ontario’s economy performs extremely well globally, it trails many of the U.S. states in its peer group. Ontario’s GDP per person is almost 14 per cent lower than the median of 16 comparable North American jurisdictions. This performance gap equates to nearly $6,000 for every person in Ontario. 

“Ontario’s economy is one of the strongest in the world,” said Roger Martin, Dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and Chairman of the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity. “But when we compare it to a peer group of U.S. states and Quebec, we rank 14th out of 16. The Working Paper asks how high Ontarians want to aspire. I sincerely doubt Ontarians are satisfied with a 14th out of 16 – the question is how far and how fast do we want to move up in rank?”

The Working Paper identified productivity as the primary source of Ontario’s performance gap.  Martin said, “Improving productivity isn’t getting us to work harder – in fact a more productive economy provides more leisure time, if that’s how people choose to benefit from it. Productivity comes from innovation and upgrading our products and processes and we believe this is a function of our attitudes, investments and motivations.” He was referring to the elements of the Institute’s economic indicators that are proposed in the second Working Paper. These enable the Institute to identify the most significant factors behind Ontario’s economic growth.

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Topics: Economic policy, growth, and strategy, Clusters