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Indicators of Well-being in Canada


Financial Security - Income Distribution

Relevance

The well-being of Canadian families depends on both their level of income and the distribution of income within the population. Differences in the distribution of income, or 'income disparities', are often considered a measure of a society's fairness. High income disparities are often associated with high unemployment but may also indicate that large numbers of people are in low-paid and low-skilled jobs.

Summary

  • National Picture —  Since 1995, the after-tax income of the top income group rose much more than the income of other income groups. Consequently, income disparities increased in Canada between 1995 and 2011.
  • Regions — In 2011, the highest income disparities between the top 20% and the bottom 20% income groups were in British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta. The lowest were in Prince Edward Island.
  • International Picture — The extent of income disparity in Canada was comparable to that of many G7 and OECD member countries.
  • Family-adjusted after-tax income — Adjusting after-tax income for family size and composition reveals smaller income disparities among income groups than for unadjusted after-tax income, although trends were similar over time.

National Picture

In 2011, the average after-tax income in Canada for the bottom 20% of family units (after-tax income of $24,700 or less) was $15,100, and for the top 20% (after-tax income of $93,000 or more) was $139,400. The difference between these two groups has increased in recent years.

Income disparities (expressed in 2011 constant dollars) rose between 1995 and 2011. While average after-tax incomes increased by 12.7% for families with incomes in the bottom 20% and by 23.2% for families with incomes in the middle 60%, it rose by 37.2% for those in the top income group. Consequently, the difference between the top 20% income group and the bottom 20% rose by 40.9%, increasing from $88,200 in 1995 to $124,300 in 2011. Similarly, the difference between the average income of the top 20% and the middle 60% increased from $58,167 to $85,900, or by 47.7% over the same period.


This Chart contains data for Average after-tax income, by income group, Canada, 1976-2011. Information is available in table below 2011 (Bottom 20%) = 15,100 2010 (Bottom 20%) = 15,000 2009 (Bottom 20%) = 15,300 2008 (Bottom 20%) = 15,300 2007 (Bottom 20%) = 14,900 2006 (Bottom 20%) = 14,300 2005 (Bottom 20%) = 13,700 2004 (Bottom 20%) = 13,800 2003 (Bottom 20%) = 13,900 2002 (Bottom 20%) = 14,000 2001 (Bottom 20%) = 13,600 2000 (Bottom 20%) = 12,700 1999 (Bottom 20%) = 12,700 1998 (Bottom 20%) = 12,400 1997 (Bottom 20%) = 12,500 1996 (Bottom 20%) = 12,900 1995 (Bottom 20%) = 13,400 1994 (Bottom 20%) = 13,400 1993 (Bottom 20%) = 13,300 1992 (Bottom 20%) = 13,300 1991 (Bottom 20%) = 13,500 1990 (Bottom 20%) = 14,100 1989 (Bottom 20%) = 15,100 1988 (Bottom 20%) = 14,600 1987 (Bottom 20%) = 14,400 1986 (Bottom 20%) = 14,100 1985 (Bottom 20%) = 13,900 1984 (Bottom 20%) = 13,300 1983 (Bottom 20%) = 12,900 1982 (Bottom 20%) = 13,800 1981 (Bottom 20%) = 14,200 1980 (Bottom 20%) = 13,400 1979 (Bottom 20%) = 13,300 1978 (Bottom 20%) = 12,700 1977 (Bottom 20%) = 12,000 1976 (Bottom 20%) = 13,000 2011 (Middle 60%) = 53,500 2010 (Middle 60%) = 53,467 2009 (Middle 60%) = 53,433 2008 (Middle 60%) = 53,267 2007 (Middle 60%) = 52,633 2006 (Middle 60%) = 51,033 2005 (Middle 60%) = 49,733 2004 (Middle 60%) = 48,933 2003 (Middle 60%) = 48,400 2002 (Middle 60%) = 48,467 2001 (Middle 60%) = 48,400 2000 (Middle 60%) = 46,700 1999 (Middle 60%) = 46,033 1998 (Middle 60%) = 44,500 1997 (Middle 60%) = 43,133 1996 (Middle 60%) = 43,033 1995 (Middle 60%) = 43,433 1994 (Middle 60%) = 43,500 1993 (Middle 60%) = 43,333 1992 (Middle 60%) = 44,233 1991 (Middle 60%) = 44,033 1990 (Middle 60%) = 46,067 1989 (Middle 60%) = 47,933 1988 (Middle 60%) = 47,233 1987 (Middle 60%) = 46,133 1986 (Middle 60%) = 46,400 1985 (Middle 60%) = 46,433 1984 (Middle 60%) = 45,800 1983 (Middle 60%) = 45,567 1982 (Middle 60%) = 47,200 1981 (Middle 60%) = 48,833 1980 (Middle 60%) = 49,533 1979 (Middle 60%) = 48,667 1978 (Middle 60%) = 49,067 1977 (Middle 60%) = 48,900 1976 (Middle 60%) = 48,367 2011 (Top 20%) = 139,400 2010 (Top 20%) = 139,500 2009 (Top 20%) = 138,900 2008 (Top 20%) = 138,600 2007 (Top 20%) = 136,600 2006 (Top 20%) = 131,100 2005 (Top 20%) = 128,000 2004 (Top 20%) = 126,800 2003 (Top 20%) = 123,400 2002 (Top 20%) = 125,000 2001 (Top 20%) = 124,700 2000 (Top 20%) = 119,900 1999 (Top 20%) = 115,100 1998 (Top 20%) = 111,900 1997 (Top 20%) = 105,100 1996 (Top 20%) = 103,200 1995 (Top 20%) = 101,600 1994 (Top 20%) = 101,300 1993 (Top 20%) = 100,300 1992 (Top 20%) = 103,300 1991 (Top 20%) = 103,100 1990 (Top 20%) = 105,700 1989 (Top 20%) = 108,500 1988 (Top 20%) = 106,800 1987 (Top 20%) = 105,200 1986 (Top 20%) = 105,700 1985 (Top 20%) = 105,100 1984 (Top 20%) = 103,400 1983 (Top 20%) = 103,600 1982 (Top 20%) = 104,800 1981 (Top 20%) = 106,400 1980 (Top 20%) = 107,900 1979 (Top 20%) = 105,900 1978 (Top 20%) = 107,800 1977 (Top 20%) = 104,500 1976 (Top 20%) = 109,700 (2011 constant dollars) Average after-tax income, by income group, Canada, 1976-2011

Source: ESDC calculations based on Statistics Canada. Table 202-0703 - Market, total and after-tax income, by economic family type and after-tax income quintiles, 2011 constant dollars, annual, CANSIM (database).


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Average after-tax income, by income group, Canada, 1976-2011 (2011 constant dollars)
197619771978197919801981198219831984198519861987198819891990199119921993199419951996199719981999200020012002200320042005200620072008200920102011
Bottom 20%13,00012,00012,70013,30013,40014,20013,80012,90013,30013,90014,10014,40014,60015,10014,10013,50013,30013,30013,40013,40012,90012,50012,40012,70012,70013,60014,00013,90013,80013,70014,30014,90015,30015,30015,00015,100
Middle 60%48,36748,90049,06748,66749,53348,83347,20045,56745,80046,43346,40046,13347,23347,93346,06744,03344,23343,33343,50043,43343,03343,13344,50046,03346,70048,40048,46748,40048,93349,73351,03352,63353,26753,43353,46753,500
Top 20%109,700104,500107,800105,900107,900106,400104,800103,600103,400105,100105,700105,200106,800108,500105,700103,100103,300100,300101,300101,600103,200105,100111,900115,100119,900124,700125,000123,400126,800128,000131,100136,600138,600138,900139,500139,400

Income disparities shown as ratios (i.e., the top income group divided by the lowest or middle income group) reveal that, depending on the year, families in the top 20% received between 7.2 and 9.4 times more than families in the bottom 20% in the period 1976 to 2011. In the same period, families in the top 20% had an income 2.1 to 2.6 times higher than the middle 60%. Income disparities increased in the mid 1990s and have stayed relatively high ever since. In 2011, the top 20% had an average income 9.2 times that of the bottom 20%, and 2.6 times that of the middle 60%.


This Chart contains data for Average income of the top 20% group relative to other groups, Canada, 1976-2011. Information is available in table below 2011 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 9.2 2010 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 9.281 2009 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 9.122 2008 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 9.1 2007 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 9.152 2006 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 9.165 2005 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 9.3 2004 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 9.194 2003 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 8.881 2002 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 8.926 2001 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 9.182 2000 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 9.4 1999 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 9.089 1998 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 9 1997 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 8.438 1996 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.96 1995 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.592 1994 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.577 1993 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.5 1992 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.783 1991 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.649 1990 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.496 1989 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.219 1988 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.31 1987 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.3 1986 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.496 1985 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.563 1984 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.783 1983 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 8 1982 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.597 1981 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.493 1980 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 8.069 1979 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 7.977 1978 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 8.512 1977 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 8.675 1976 (Top 20% to bottom 20%) = 8.4 2011 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.6 2010 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.607 2009 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.601 2008 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.604 2007 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.593 2006 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.57 2005 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.574 2004 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.592 2003 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.5 2002 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.576 2001 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.577 2000 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.568 1999 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.497 1998 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.514 1997 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.437 1996 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.4 1995 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.339 1994 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.332 1993 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.316 1992 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.335 1991 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.341 1990 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.294 1989 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.262 1988 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.261 1987 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.281 1986 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.279 1985 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.266 1984 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.256 1983 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.275 1982 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.219 1981 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.18 1980 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.179 1979 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.175 1978 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.197 1977 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.137 1976 (Top 20% to middle 60%) = 2.27 Average income of the top 20% group relative to other groups, Canada, 1976-2011

Note: Average incomes were calculated using the average after-tax family income.

Source: ESDC calculations based on Statistics Canada. Table 202-0703 - Market, total and after-tax income, by economic family type and after-tax income quintiles, 2011 constant dollars, annual, CANSIM (database).


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Average income of the top 20% group relative to other groups, Canada, 1976-2011
197619771978197919801981198219831984198519861987198819891990199119921993199419951996199719981999200020012002200320042005200620072008200920102011
Top 20% to bottom 20%8.48.6758.5127.9778.0697.4937.59787.7837.5637.4967.37.317.2197.4967.6497.7837.57.5777.5927.968.43899.0899.49.1828.9268.8819.1949.39.1659.1529.19.1229.2819.2
Top 20% to middle 60%2.272.1372.1972.1752.1792.182.2192.2752.2562.2662.2792.2812.2612.2622.2942.3412.3352.3162.3322.3392.42.4372.5142.4972.5682.5772.5762.52.5922.5742.572.5932.6042.6012.6072.6

Regions

Using the ratio of the top 20% to the bottom 20%, in 2011 income disparities were lowest in Prince Edward Island and highest in British Columbia. In Prince Edward Island, families in the top 20% had an income 7.2 times higher than those in the bottom 20%. In British Columbia, families in the top 20% had incomes 10.3 times more than families in the bottom 20%.


This Chart contains data for Ratio of the average income of the top to bottom 20% income groups, by region, 2011. Information is available in table below BC = 10.3 AB = 9.5 SK = 7.9 MB = 7.8 ON = 9.6 QC = 8.2 NB = 7.4 NS = 7.7 PE = 7.2 NL = 8.1 CAN = 9.2 Ratio of the average income of the top to bottom 20% income groups, by region, 2011

Note: Average incomes were calculated using the average after-tax family income.

Source: ESDC calculations based on Statistics Canada. Table 202-0703 - Market, total and after-tax income, by economic family type and after-tax income quintiles, 2011 constant dollars, annual, CANSIM (database).


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Ratio of the average income of the top to bottom 20% income groups, by region, 2011
CANNLPENSNBQCONMBSKABBC
9.28.17.27.77.48.29.67.87.99.510.3

International Picture

Another way of assessing income disparities is to assign a value to disparity. This value is called the Gini coefficient. Commonly used worldwide, the Gini coefficient ranges between 0 (no disparity) and 1 (extreme disparity). (See Income Distribution for details.)

Using the Gini coefficient, income disparity in Canada had a value of 0.320 in 2010. Canada's Gini coefficient was the fourth lowest among the G7 countries and was slightly higher than the average for OECD countries. Among OECD members, the Gini coefficient ranged from 0.244 in Iceland to 0.501 in Chile. Canada's Gini coefficient was higher than those of many Northern and Eastern European countries, but was lower than those of the United States, Turkey and Latin America OECD members (Mexico and Chile).


This Chart contains data for Income disparity, G7 countries and OECD average, 2009 and 2010. Information is available in table below United States (2010) = 0.380 United Kingdom (2010) = 0.341 Italy (2010) = 0.319 Japan (2009) = 0.336 Canada (2010) = 0.320 OECD-34 (2010) = 0.313 Germany (2010) = 0.286 France (2010) = 0.303 (Gini coefficient) Income disparity, G7 countries and OECD average, 2009 and 2010

Source: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Income Distribution Database (via www.oecd.org/social/income-distribution-database.htm) [cited July 10, 2013].


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Income disparity, G7 countries and OECD average, 2009 and 2010 (Gini coefficient)
France (2010)Germany (2010)OECD-34 (2010)Canada (2010)Japan (2009)Italy (2010)United Kingdom (2010)United States (2010)
0.3030.2860.3130.3200.3360.3190.3410.380

Family-adjusted After-tax Income

A family's financial well-being depends not only on the level of income but also on the number of family members and family composition. Family-adjusted income is a measure that allows for comparisons free of differences in family size and composition among income groups. (See Income Distribution for more details on family-adjusted after-tax income).

In 2011, the average family-adjusted after-tax income was $16,000 for families in the bottom 20% income group, $39,833 for families in the middle 60%, and $87,100 for families in the top 20%. Income disparities rose after 1995. The difference between the top 20% income group and the bottom 20% increased from $49,300 in 1995 to $71,100 in 2011 (in 2011 constant dollars). Similarly, the difference between the top 20% income group and the middle 60% increased from about $31,400 to $47,267 over the same period.


This Chart contains data for Average family-adjusted after-tax income, by income group, Canada, 1976-2011. Information is available in table below 2011 (Bottom 20%) = 16,000 2010 (Bottom 20%) = 15,600 2009 (Bottom 20%) = 15,500 2008 (Bottom 20%) = 15,600 2007 (Bottom 20%) = 15,500 2006 (Bottom 20%) = 14,800 2005 (Bottom 20%) = 14,100 2004 (Bottom 20%) = 13,800 2003 (Bottom 20%) = 13,800 2002 (Bottom 20%) = 13,800 2001 (Bottom 20%) = 13,800 2000 (Bottom 20%) = 12,900 1999 (Bottom 20%) = 12,900 1998 (Bottom 20%) = 12,400 1997 (Bottom 20%) = 12,100 1996 (Bottom 20%) = 12,200 1995 (Bottom 20%) = 12,500 1994 (Bottom 20%) = 12,600 1993 (Bottom 20%) = 12,600 1992 (Bottom 20%) = 12,500 1991 (Bottom 20%) = 12,800 1990 (Bottom 20%) = 13,300 1989 (Bottom 20%) = 14,300 1988 (Bottom 20%) = 14,000 1987 (Bottom 20%) = 13,400 1986 (Bottom 20%) = 13,200 1985 (Bottom 20%) = 12,800 1984 (Bottom 20%) = 12,100 1983 (Bottom 20%) = 12,100 1982 (Bottom 20%) = 12,600 1981 (Bottom 20%) = 13,100 1980 (Bottom 20%) = 12,800 1979 (Bottom 20%) = 12,400 1978 (Bottom 20%) = 12,300 1977 (Bottom 20%) = 11,700 1976 (Bottom 20%) = 12,000 2011 (Middle 60%) = 39,833 2010 (Middle 60%) = 39,367 2009 (Middle 60%) = 39,300 2008 (Middle 60%) = 39,167 2007 (Middle 60%) = 38,467 2006 (Middle 60%) = 37,133 2005 (Middle 60%) = 36,433 2004 (Middle 60%) = 35,600 2003 (Middle 60%) = 34,967 2002 (Middle 60%) = 35,000 2001 (Middle 60%) = 34,867 2000 (Middle 60%) = 33,700 1999 (Middle 60%) = 33,000 1998 (Middle 60%) = 31,800 1997 (Middle 60%) = 30,633 1996 (Middle 60%) = 30,367 1995 (Middle 60%) = 30,400 1994 (Middle 60%) = 30,533 1993 (Middle 60%) = 30,233 1992 (Middle 60%) = 30,867 1991 (Middle 60%) = 30,633 1990 (Middle 60%) = 32,100 1989 (Middle 60%) = 33,067 1988 (Middle 60%) = 32,367 1987 (Middle 60%) = 31,500 1986 (Middle 60%) = 31,400 1985 (Middle 60%) = 31,200 1984 (Middle 60%) = 30,600 1983 (Middle 60%) = 30,200 1982 (Middle 60%) = 31,000 1981 (Middle 60%) = 31,900 1980 (Middle 60%) = 32,200 1979 (Middle 60%) = 31,533 1978 (Middle 60%) = 31,433 1977 (Middle 60%) = 31,167 1976 (Middle 60%) = 30,567 2011 (Top 20%) = 87,100 2010 (Top 20%) = 87,200 2009 (Top 20%) = 86,900 2008 (Top 20%) = 86,700 2007 (Top 20%) = 84,900 2006 (Top 20%) = 81,800 2005 (Top 20%) = 79,600 2004 (Top 20%) = 79,200 2003 (Top 20%) = 76,500 2002 (Top 20%) = 77,300 2001 (Top 20%) = 76,900 2000 (Top 20%) = 73,900 1999 (Top 20%) = 70,100 1998 (Top 20%) = 68,200 1997 (Top 20%) = 64,100 1996 (Top 20%) = 63,000 1995 (Top 20%) = 61,800 1994 (Top 20%) = 61,400 1993 (Top 20%) = 60,700 1992 (Top 20%) = 62,600 1991 (Top 20%) = 62,500 1990 (Top 20%) = 63,500 1989 (Top 20%) = 65,200 1988 (Top 20%) = 64,000 1987 (Top 20%) = 62,900 1986 (Top 20%) = 63,200 1985 (Top 20%) = 62,600 1984 (Top 20%) = 61,500 1983 (Top 20%) = 61,400 1982 (Top 20%) = 61,700 1981 (Top 20%) = 62,600 1980 (Top 20%) = 63,000 1979 (Top 20%) = 61,100 1978 (Top 20%) = 62,000 1977 (Top 20%) = 59,500 1976 (Top 20%) = 62,400 (2011 constant dollars) Average family-adjusted after-tax income, by income group, Canada, 1976-2011

Source: ESDC calculations based on Statistics Canada. Table 202-0706 -Market, total and after-tax income of individuals, where each individual is represented by their adjusted and unadjusted economic family income, by economic family type and adjusted after-tax income quintiles, 2011 constant dollars, annual, CANSIM (database).


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Average family-adjusted after-tax income, by income group, Canada, 1976-2011 (2011 constant dollars)
197619771978197919801981198219831984198519861987198819891990199119921993199419951996199719981999200020012002200320042005200620072008200920102011
Bottom 20%12,00011,70012,30012,40012,80013,10012,60012,10012,10012,80013,20013,40014,00014,30013,30012,80012,50012,60012,60012,50012,20012,10012,40012,90012,90013,80013,80013,80013,80014,10014,80015,50015,60015,50015,60016,000
Middle 60%30,56731,16731,43331,53332,20031,90031,00030,20030,60031,20031,40031,50032,36733,06732,10030,63330,86730,23330,53330,40030,36730,63331,80033,00033,70034,86735,00034,96735,60036,43337,13338,46739,16739,30039,36739,833
Top 20%62,40059,50062,00061,10063,00062,60061,70061,40061,50062,60063,20062,90064,00065,20063,50062,50062,60060,70061,40061,80063,00064,10068,20070,10073,90076,90077,30076,50079,20079,60081,80084,90086,70086,90087,20087,100

When taking family size and composition into account, income disparities were smaller. Yet the trends over time were similar. Compared with unadjusted income (see the National Picture section), family-adjusted after-tax income data show smaller differences among income groups. Moreover, income disparities expressed as ratios were much smaller using the family-adjusted income. In 2011, families in the top 20% income group received an income 5.4 times higher on average than those in the bottom 20% (compared with 9.2 for unadjusted after-tax income). Similarly, families in the top 20% income group had, on average, an income 2.2 times higher than those in the middle 60% (compared with 2.6 times higher for unadjusted after-tax income).

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Date Modified:
2014-10-25