Consumer Trends Report – Chapter 5: Consumer Income: Summary

Chapter 5 – Consumer Income: Summary

The economic recovery beginning in the mid-1990s has substantially increased Canadians' after-tax incomes. This is particularly true for high-income earning families, which has the effect of creating a more polarized earnings distribution in Canada. In terms of family types, two-parent families with children and lone-parent families have both made substantial gains in their median after-tax income during the latest economic recovery. However, relative to two-parent families with children, lone-parent families still face severe financial pressures. Elderly Canadians made more substantial gains in the previous recovery of the 1980s.

In contrast, the earnings performance of recent immigrants to Canada has deteriorated over the last 20 years, resulting in a rising proportion of immigrant families experiencing low income.

Research opportunities include more detailed analysis of income by household type, such as households consisting of couples living with other relatives, the "sandwich generation," and empty-nesters versus childless young couples. Continued research into the circumstances of other groups of Canadians with lower than average incomes (e.g. immigrants, lone-parents) would also be useful.