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International Student Office


PhD student, Faculty of Education

Ethics and Income Inequality: A Study of Canadian Economists

Summary of activity or research

My PhD examines Canadian economists’ educational experiences, worldviews, political orientations, and professional relationships with the aim of determining whether, how, and why their attitudes toward the market, financial sector regulation and supervision, and the role of government differ from those of other Commonwealth countries, most of whom share institutional structures, cultural mores, and educational practices with their Canadian brethren. As yet a thorough study of Canadian economists does not exist, and yet the advice of Canadian economists and regulators has helped to shape major regulatory accords for the financial sector at the global level, including most recently the Basel III Accord and recommendations from the Financial Stability Board, currently led by Canadian Mark Carney. This advice has been sought from Canadian experts because Canada performed so well during and after the Great Financial Crisis, and the country’s success may be in part due to its legal and regulatory frameworks – themselves the result of the work of successive groups of Canadian economists, civil servants, central bankers, and regulators, most of whom have a background in economics, in the context of structures and practices shared by many Commonwealth countries. Indeed, Canada’s banking system is essentially Scottish in origin. Research into the development of Canadian economists’ worldview, which appears to fall between the poles of heterodox and neoclassical economics, is crucial – for Canadians, but also for regulators, central bankers, and government officials the world over, particularly other Commonwealth countries with similar financial sector institutions and regulations. Such research is also especially timely as we recover from the financial crisis and create regulations to help prevent future crises.

Impact of funding received

The Smuts Memorial Fund almost single-handedly made my fieldwork possible – fieldwork that, I should note, generated the vast majority of my data and formed the backbone of my PhD. Over three months in total – some of the most intellectually challenging and stimulating of my life, during which I interviewed 65 economists across the whole of Canada – I developed a view of the field of economics in Canada, coming to conclusions I never would have encountered otherwise. I couldn't possibly overstate the impact the Smuts Memorial Fund has had on my PhD; quite simply, I wouldn't have a thesis without its help.