THREE ESSAYS ON FIRST NATIONS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
This dissertation contains three essays on topics in First Nations economic development in Canada. The first essay explores the issue of underdevelopment through the lens of economic leakage and multiplier effects of spending. The second essay explores the issue of food insecurity as an implication of underdevelopment in First Nations reserve economies. Finally, the last essay investigates First Nation Governments’ investment in band-owned businesses and collaboration in business development opportunities between First Nations communities. The first essay explores the rate of economic leakage and the economic impacts of First Nation spending. Using data collected from a comprehensive survey of household spending by two First Nations in Saskatchewan, Canada, I use Input-Output models to refine regional multipliers for these distinct populations. Results indicate that economic leakage rates for First Nation economies is roughly 90 percent; meaning that 90 cents of every dollar spent by First Nations for goods and services occurs off-reserve. Using the new multipliers, I find that First Nation spending contributes over $741 million to Saskatchewan's GDP, creates approximately 11,244 full-time jobs, and leads to an estimated increase of over $462 million in labor force income for the province. If policy makers intend to build on-reserve economies, strategies must be found to recapture off-reserve spending by providing comparable on-reserve goods and services. In the absence of on-reserve economic development, First Nation economic growth will likely remain stagnant with few wealth generating opportunities and lower standards of living for First Nation members. A direct implication of high rates of economic leakage is alarming rates of food insecurity in most First Nations communities across Canada. In the second essay, I explore some of the most important factors affecting household food consumption and food insecurity in First Nations communities. I use disaggregate household food expenditure data from 466 First Nation households in six First Nation communities to explore the influence of household income, household size, age of head-of-household, and distance to commercial food markets on the quantity and types of foods purchased. I also explore spatial inequalities and issues related to the accessibility of food. Results indicate that while income, size, and age of the household head are significant determinants of total food expenditures, their impact changes with the type of food purchased and with the community. With the dietary transition of First Nations from traditional subsistence-based localized food systems to store bought foods, this study of the new food consumption paradigm has important implications for public policies on mitigating food insecurity in First Nation communities and for food subsidy programs such as Nutrition North Canada. The third essay investigates the investment behaviour of the First Nation Governments (FNGs) (N=68) in the Province of Saskatchewan, Canada. The economic development of Saskatchewan First Nations is typically led by elected Chief and Councils who invest revenues into First Nation-owned businesses or through joint ventures with other FNGs. I argue that when FNGs invest in solely-controlled capital stock, conventional theories of investment behavior can be employed. However, in cases of jointly-controlled capital stock between two or more FNGs it is necessary to account for externalities originating from other FNGs. To test this hypothesis, I developed a spatially augmented model of investment behaviour. Results show that like firms, investment behaviour of FNGs follows the principal accelerator mechanisms in which capacity utilization is a major determinant of investment behaviour. However, the capacities of FNGs differ from those of firms; most notably in terms of the extent to which neighbouring FNGs influence the investment behaviour of other FNGs. Results indicate that accounting for other FNGs’ externalities improves explanatory power of empirical models of First Nation investment behaviour.
regional economic activity, economics of Indigenous peoples, input-output models, food security, food policy, household demand, food consumption, Indigenous public policy, externalities, spatial econometric models, investment and capital stock
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Agricultural and Resource Economics