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Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Study: How long do people live in low-income neighbourhoods?


This study examines how long people live in low-income neighbourhoods in Canada's three largest cities, Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver. Low-income neighbourhoods are defined as those in which at least 40% of residents are below the low-income threshold.

Using income tax data from 1992 to 1999, the study showed that on average, when people move into a low-income neighbourhood, they live there for 3.8 years. However, there is substantial variability. One-third of the people moving into a low-income neighbourhood lived there for two years or less, while another one-third were there for six years or more.

Results varied according to location, family type, and age. Residents of Toronto and Vancouver, families with children and older individuals generally lived in a low-income neighbourhood longer than others

A larger share of Montréal's population lived in a low-income neighbourhood compared with Toronto and Vancouver, but they tended to live in these neighbourhoods for a shorter period of time. People who entered low-income neighbourhoods in Montréal lived there for 3.2 years on average. In contrast, in Toronto and Vancouver, they lived there for 4.3 years, despite the better job opportunities in these cities.

The study also found that low-income families with children could expect to live in a low-income neighbourhood for about five years, compared with about four years for low-income families without children. This gap takes into account differences in age, sex, location, and the local unemployment rate.

Older individuals were far less likely to enter a low-income neighbourhood, but once there they tended to remain for a longer period of time. For example, people aged 55 or older could expect to live in a low-income neighbourhood for about six years. People aged 25 to 34 could expect to live in a low-income neighbourhood for only three years. This takes into account differences in family type, sex, location, and the local unemployment rate.

Previous studies conducted in the United States have associated living in poorer neighbourhoods with negative outcomes, such as exposure to crime, poorer health, and lower earnings potential.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 4107.

The research paper How Long Do People Live in Low-income Neighbourhoods? Evidence for Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver (11F0019MIE2004216, free) is now available online. To access the Analytical Studies Research Paper Series, select Studies on the left side bar from the home page, then, under Browse periodical and series, choose Free and for sale. Under Series, select Analytical Studies Branch.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Garnett Picot (613-951-8214) or Marc Frenette (613-951-4228), Business and Labour Market Analysis Division.

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Date Modified: 2004-01-21 Important Notices