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1.0 Introduction

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1.1 Overview

The 2005 Survey of Financial Security (SFS) provides a comprehensive picture of the net worth of Canadians. Information was collected on the value of all major financial and non-financial assets and on the money owing on mortgages, vehicles, credit cards, student loans and other debts. The value of these assets less the debts is referred to as net worth.

The cross-sectional public use microdata file (PUMF) is a collection of income, expenses, assets, debts and wealth data on Canadian families. This file contains information collected from more than 5,200 family units residing in private households in Canada. All records have been thoroughly screened to ensure the anonymity of respondents.

This manual was produced as a reference guide to help users manipulate the microdata file of the survey results.

For more information, or to enquire about concepts, methods or data quality, please contact:

Income Statistics Division
Toll-free 1-888-297-7355 or 613-951-7355

1.2 History

Since the 1950s, Statistics Canada has conducted occasional surveys on the assets and debts of Canadians. Up to, and including, 1984, these surveys were supplements to the more regular income surveys, known as the Surveys of Consumer Finances (SCF). Originally, these surveys covered non-farm households and a limited list of assets and debts. The coverage has since expanded to include almost all private households in Canada and nearly all marketable and pension assets.

Over the six-year period between 1999 and 2005, a number of important factors influenced the evolution of the wealth distribution in Canada. The real estate market experienced strong growth over the period, with historically low interest rates and favorable economic conditions spurring new construction and inflating the value of existing homes.

The Canadian stock market plunged in 2002 in the aftermath of the high-tech bubble burst, temporarily wiping out billions in family net worth. It had fully recovered by 2005 on the strength of a booming resource sector.

With the cost of borrowing at all-time lows, consumer debt rose to unprecedented levels, while debt service ratios nonetheless have not increased in relation to income. The banking sector targeted an increasing portion of its lending activity at consumers, making consumer credit more available in a broader variety of forms.

1.3 How to cite SFS in publications

For publication of any information based on the SFS microdata file on CD-ROM (13M0006XCB), the following form of accreditation is recommended:

"This analysis is based on Statistics Canada's Survey of Financial Security Public Use Microdata, 2005, which contains anonymous data collected in the Survey of Financial Security. All computations on these microdata were prepared by (Name of user). The responsibility for the use and interpretation of these data is entirely that of the author(s)".