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Participation in private retirement savings plans declined between 1997 and 2008.  The share of employed tax filers participating in an employer-sponsored pension (EPP) plan is higher for those between 35 and 54 years old than for any other age group, although it is the only age group for which the participation rate has declined from 1997 to 2008.  The decline in participation in private retirement savings plans is mainly driven by a lower share of workers contributing to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP).  The share of workers participating in an EPP remained stable over the period: about one third of workers participate in such a plan.  Participation in EPPs is higher for employed tax filers in the two highest income quintiles.  However, participation rates in EPPs have been declining in these quintiles compared to the three lowest quintiles for which rates of participation have risen between 1997 and 2008.  A declining share of tax filers with employment income contributing to a RRSP is found within each age category, each income quintile and within each combination of the two variables previously mentionned. 

Individuals may decide to accumulate savings by investing in other classes of assets than those presented in this report1.  The 2005 Survey of Financial Security shows that Canadian families hold other assets besides private pension savings.  Private pension savings represented 29% of family units' assets while non-financial assets (including principal residence and other real estate) represented nearly 50% of their wealth. 

Further research could be conducted to assess if some groups of employed tax filers with a declining share of participation in private retirement savings plans were able to save in other classes of assets.  The causes of the declining share of 'prime-aged' working tax filers (i.e 35-54 years old) participating in a private retirement savings plan, either through participation in an EPP or by contributing to a RRSP, are also grounds for more research.


  1. MARR, Gerry. " 'Homemade' savings the new RRSPs; Nearly 40% of wealth tied up in real estate".  Calgary Herald. October 24, 2009.  P.C9.
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