The standard of living of First Nations is on average much lower than that of other Canadians, but some First Nations have achieved higher well-being than others.
This paper is an investigation into the factors that promote prosperity for First Nations. We use the Community Well-being Index (CWB), calculated by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, as a measure of prosperity for First Nations. As possible explanations of differences in well-being, we develop and test four indicators of respect for property rights and the rule of law: use of Certificates of Possession, adoption of property tax, entry into the First Nations Land Management Act, and avoidance of third-party management. In a multiple regression analysis, all four variables are positively correlated with higher CWB scores, even after controlling for cultural background and remoteness of location. Our findings are consistent with comparative and international research that has highlighted the importance of property rights and the rule of law for economic growth.