The Canadian International Labour Network (CILN) is a collaborative research venture between the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and McMaster University, with additional funding being provided by the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, Queen's University and Human Resources Development Canada. The budget for the five-year project is almost $2 million, of which $1.24 million has been awarded by the SSHRC, through its Major Collaborative Research Initiative (MCRI) competition. Stephen Jones, Professor of Economics at McMaster University, is the project's principal investigator.

The theme of CILN's research is Labour Market Institutions and Outcomes: A Cross-National Study. Its investigations will focus on the effects of labour-market laws and institutions (e.g., labour legislation, unions, unemployment insurance) on labour-market outcomes (e.g., the distribution of wages, the level and structure of unemployment, and the distribution of resources within the family). The network's research strategy is to link Canadian experts in economics, political science, industrial relations and sociology with researchers working on the same questions in other developed countries, allowing the detailed examination of large-scale statistical databases on more than one country at a time.

More than any other single factor, success or failure in the labour market determines the material well-being of most individuals today. Especially in a period of rapid labour market change associated with changing technology and globalization of markets in which many of our basic labour market programs are being re-evaluated and questioned, this makes it extremely important to understand how labour markets work, and how their functioning is affected by public policy.

Labour markets in developed countries today share many broad features, but also operate in quite different legal and institutional environments. Potentially different aspects of their legal environments include the levels and kinds of labour relations and labour standards legislation, and income support programs. Potentially different aspects of the institutional environment include the industrial relations system, the education and training system, and the formal and informal networks connecting firms within and across economic sectors. Because of these many differences, as well as the broad underlying similarities in labour markets across developed countries, much can be learned about the effects of institutions and laws on labour markets from a cross-national analysis.

Research Focus and Organization

The overall initiative is divided into three broad project areas (Family, Unemployment, and Wages and Job Quality), each directed by a member of McMaster's Department of Economics.

In all, eight members of McMaster's Department of Economics are involved in the CILN initiative (Martin Browning, Stephen Jones and Peter Kuhn, plus John Burbidge, Martin Dooley, Alan Harrison, Wayne Lewchuk and Les Robb), and one researcher from another department (Charlotte Yates from Political Science and Labour Studies). The network also includes leading economists, sociologists and political scientists from other universities in Canada, from the public sector, and from universities in the US and many other countries. A total of around 50 individuals are involved. Every CILN research associate is primarily attached to one project area; there is, however, considerable overlap among the topics, and it is expected that many research associates will contribute in more than one area.

CILN has an advisory committee drawn from senior ranks of academia and public policy researchers in Canada and abroad. Current members of the advisory committee are:

William Coleman (Professor of Political Science, McMaster University)
Stephen Jones (Professor of Economics, McMaster University)
Wayne Lewchuk (Professor of Labour Studies and Economics, McMaster University)
John Myles (Professor of Sociology, Florida State University)
Garnett Picot (Manager, Business and Labour Market Analysis, Statistics Canada)
Craig Riddell (Professor of Economics, University of British Columbia)
Mikal Skuterud (Graduate Student in Economics, McMaster University)
Jean-Pierre Voyer (Director, Applied Research, Human Resources Development Canada)
Ging Wong (Director, Insurance Evaluation, Human Resources Development Canada)

Others Goals

A major aspect of the project is the strong link it will forge between research and graduate student training. To this end, support will be provided in the form of research fellowships for a total of 15 students each year. Of these student, 11 will be based at McMaster. The remainder will be split equally between the Departments of Economics at the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, Queen's University and York University with the cost in each case being shared equally between the institution and the SSHRC. Additionally, CILN funds will support a post-doctoral fellow and other personnel.

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Last updated: January 11, 2001