Data sources for consumption distributions: the Social Policy Simulation Database and Model and the Survey of Household Spending

In addition to the aggregated annual estimates available from the SPSD/M, as described above, the SHS - conducted annually from 1997 to 2017 and every two years afterwards in the ten provinces and periodically in the three territories - provides more detailed information on household consumption by economic and demographic characteristic. Prior to the 2010 reference year, the SHS was primarily based on an interview during the first quarter of the year in which households reported expenditures incurred in the preceding calendar year.

As of the 2010 reference year, the SHS collects household spending information using a questionnaire completed through a personal interview, and a more detailed expenditure diary that selected households complete for two weeks following the interview. The questionnaire is used to collect information on larger or less frequent expenditures using varying recall periods based on the type of expenditure, while the diary is used to collect information on smaller or more frequent expenditures.

The latest survey design includes data collection that is continuous throughout the year to account for seasonal variations in spending. To provide an idea on sample size, the survey conducted from January to December 2017 was based on a sample of 17,792 households in the ten provinces and 929 households in the three territorial capitals. The data collected include detailed household expenditures, as well as information on dwelling characteristics, household demographics, as well as on household equipment. The SHS also combines survey estimates on household expenditures with income characteristics derived from personal income tax data.

Excluded from the SHS are residents of institutions and members of the Canadian Forces living in military camps, members of religious and other communal residences, as well as people living on Indian reserves. These exclusions account for about 2% of the population.

More information on the SHS can be found within Statistics Canada’s User Guide for the Survey of Household Spending, 2017.

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