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Economic Integration and Cross-Border Policy Convergence: Social and Environmental Policy in Canadian Provinces and American States

Debora L. VanNijnatten, Gerard W. Boychuk


Focusing on social and environmental policy, this paper examines the hypothesis that policy convergence generated by continental economic integration will be greater among specific pairs of tightly-linked American states and Canadian provinces than is evident in nationallevel comparisons. First, the paper outlines a number of important reasons to expect that provincial governments in Canada are more susceptible than the federal government to pressures for cross-border policy convergence. Second, the paper outlines a methodology for identifying tightlylinked pairs of American states and Canadian provinces based on various measures of geographical proximity and levels of state-province economic integration. Finally, the paper examines patterns of similarity and difference over time in matching state-province pairs with respect to specific aspects of social policy (levels of social protection and income redistribution) and environmental policy (pollution abatement and control). In terms of these indicators, national patterns of convergence/divergence are not fundamentally challenged by sub-national patterns of convergence and divergence. At the same time, patterns of similarity and difference over time for various subsets of matching state and province pairs generally differ in degree, if not in direction, from national-level patterns. However, after 1995, there are some indications of a pattern that fits with the contention that convergence may be occurring at the state-province level which is not evident in national-level patterns.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229