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Canadian Megatrends: Seniors' income from 1976 to 2014: Four decades, two stories

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Released: 2016-11-10

Canadian seniors have seen their incomes grow steadily over the past few decades, but a closer look at the numbers reveals important changes in the income composition of seniors, as well as a widening gap between senior and younger families.

This month's Canadian Megatrends looks at the changes in income faced by senior families, compares them with the income of younger families and also examines some of the reasons behind the shifts. It also spotlights the rates of seniors living in low income.

The income of seniors rose steadily for the almost two decades from 1976 to 1995. At the same time, the median after-tax income for younger families actually fell. The result was a narrowing of the gap between the income of senior and non-senior families.

However, starting in 1995, growth in income of non-senior families picked up, while that of senior families slowed slightly.

Part of the reason can be traced to the source of income. For the first 20 years, from 1976 to 1995, the rise in income for seniors came from boosts to government transfers, like the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement transfers, rather than from market income (employment income, private pensions and income from investments and other market sources). From 1995 on, however, market income became the main driver of income growth.


The article "Seniors' income from 1976 to 2014: Four decades, two stories," which is part of Canadian Megatrends (Catalogue number11-630-X) is now available from the Browse by key resource module of our website, under Publications.

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