Pension Satellite Account, 2011

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Previous release

With this release, the Pension Satellite Account data were revised for the period from 1990 to 2010 in conjunction with the implementation of the revised international System of National Accounts economic accounting standards. As a result, the value of total pension assets was revised slightly upward by $24.9 billion, or 1.1%, at year-end 2010. However, some subcomponent pension asset and flow revisions are more significant.

After a strong performance in 2010, financial markets slowed in 2011, resulting in a 4.2% increase in total pension wealth, following an 11.3% increase the year before. Pension wealth reached $2.4 trillion at year-end 2011.

Assets in individual registered saving plans and employer-based pension plans combined accounted for 92.2% of total pension wealth in 2011. Social security plans made up the remainder.

Wealth in employer-based pension plans was up 5.9% from 2010 to $1.4 trillion at the end of 2011, compared with an 11.4% increase the year before. In 2011, the value of assets in individual registered savings plans increased to $842.4 billion, 1.0% higher than the year before. This compares with 2010, when the value of individual registered savings plan assets grew 10.5% over the 2009 levels. Assets in social security plans were up 7.3% to $187.6 billion, half the rate of growth posted in 2010.

During 2010, the 11.3% increase in pension wealth was driven by appreciation in asset values, largely reflecting continued strength in global equity markets after March 2009. The sustained improvement in financial markets raised pension wealth by $58.2 billion in individual registered saving plans, $76.2 billion in employer-based pension plans and $11.0 billion in social security plans.

Contributions to pension plans increased 3.8% in 2010 compared with a 10.0% increase in 2009. The slowdown in contributions was associated mainly with employer-based pension plans, where contributions rose 7.1% in 2010, a significantly slower pace than the 20.4% increase recorded in 2009.

Contributions to social security pension plans declined 0.1% in 2010 versus an increase of 5.0% in 2009. However, contributions to individual registered saving plans grew 2.6% in 2010 after declining for the two previous years.

The pace of pension withdrawals picked up in 2010, rising 8.1% compared with a 3.9% increase in 2009. Withdrawals from employer-based pension plans rose 12.1% in 2010, while withdrawals from social security plans increased 3.5%. Withdrawals from individual registered saving plans rose 12.4%, following a 2.8% decline the year before.

Investment income grew 6.0% in 2010, following a 12.6% decrease in 2009. Investment income rose across all three pension tiers: individual registered saving plans (+4.1%); employer-based pension plans (+6.3%); and social security plans (+10.1%).

Note to readers

The Pension Satellite Account (PSA) provides an integrated stock-flow representation of the Canadian pension system. The PSA accounts fully articulate the wealth positions (level of assets) as well as the pension inflows (contributions and investment income), outflows (withdrawals), and realized and unrealized gains and losses that contribute to change in wealth (revaluations and other changes in assets).

The PSA presents annual data for each of the three tiers of the Canadian pension system: social security, employer-based pension plans, and voluntary individual registered saving plans. The institutional dimension of the PSA presentation has been mainly defined by data availability. The breakdown of the three tiers into further detail was provided where data supported it and reflects a mixture of detail by program and by institutional dimension.

This release covers the level of pension assets at market value for the period from 1990 to 2011 and the pension flows for the period from 1990 to 2010. Flows for 2011 will be available with the next PSA release in fall 2013, when final administrative data files for 2011 become available.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table378-0117 and CANSIM table378-0118.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers survey number1804 and survey number1806.

An overview of the scope and structure of the Pension Satellite Account, as well as sources and methods used to derive its stocks and flows data, is also available in the Guide to the Pension Satellite Account (Catalogue number13-599-X, free), available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

The National economic accounts module, accessible from the Key resource module of our website, features an up-to-date portrait of national and provincial economies and their structure.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;