Matthews, Ralph: An Examination of Development and Dependency in Nova Scotia


97 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-88926-816-9




Maurice J. Scarlett is a geography professor at the Memorial University
of Newfoundland.


The Introduction to this study states that it is “an attempt to examine the impact of the various disparity reducing policies and programs operating in Nova Scotia on the economic behaviour of persons, firms and governments particularly as they appear to have affected the ability ... to maintain or develop self sufficiency.” In fact, that is not what is done; such a study, as the author acknowledges, would require a major empirical study. The actual contents of this study are more modest.

It begins with an outline of dependency theory and its applicability to Nova Scotia, followed by a chapter devoted to transfer dependency and the views of Thomas Courchene. Chapter 3 looks at regional dependency and entrepreneurial initiative, using six case studies. Chapter 4 focuses on two specific programs: the Nova Scotia Job Corps and the Nova Scotia Venture Capital Program. The concluding chapter occupies a single page of text.

The author is a sociologist who has already worked for several years on problems of Atlantic Canada and published a number of studies, particularly on social change in Newfoundland. The strength of the present study comes from this sociological background and social experience, which yields a social and cultural perspective on questions more often addressed by economists in theoretical and quantitative terms and as such offers a stimulating insight into the realities of the region. The weakness is partly organizational and one of balance: Chapter 3 is an odd amalgam of general discussion and specifics; Chapter 4 looks like an afterthought rather than an integral part of the whole; and the conclusions are much too skimpy. By contrast, the first two chapters are well organized and argued.

Despite obvious defects, the study is well worth reading, if only because it addresses a fundamental problem, not just an Atlantic Canadian one, and makes a number of telling observations which regional planners (and particularly economists) would do well to ponder.


“Matthews, Ralph: An Examination of Development and Dependency in Nova Scotia,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed September 23, 2023,