April 2023

Spotlight on data and research

A cross-cohort comparison of the economic impact of divorce and widowhood on seniors

This study found that women who were divorced or widowed by age 70 more recently, were doing better financially over the next 10 years of their life compared with their counterparts from earlier years. But women still fared worse compared with men since women in their 70’s generally had lower incomes than men in their 70’s. Reductions in income following divorce or spousal death were more pronounced in the top half of the income distribution with women experiencing greater financial losses than men. The study followed income trajectories of five cohorts of Canadians from their mid 50’s to their late 70’s. In all cohorts, divorces reduced living standards more than spousal death.

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Real production and real income growth over the COVID-19 pandemic

This study found that Canadians experienced an increase in their real incomes during the COVID-19 pandemic that was higher than the growth in real gross domestic product (GDP). Real GDP is usually a good indication of the material progress of a country, as it represents the quantity of goods and services produced in the country. In contrast, real national income is the quantity of goods and services that can be purchased with the income from production that Canadians receive. During the pandemic, Canadians’ real incomes rose faster than real GDP mainly because the price of our raw materials exports (e.g., oil, lumber and minerals) rose faster than what we import (tvs, machinery and vehicles). By 2023 Q3 real income had increased 3.4 percentage points more than real GDP since the onset of the pandemic. This gap represents a more doubling of the growth in real income compared to real GDP, but one whose permanency is subject to uncertainty because it is largely based on whether commodity prices rise or fall.

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Recent developments in the Canadian economy: Spring 2023

Economic activity slowed during the second half of 2022 as businesses and households adjusted to higher borrowing costs. This article provides an integrated summary of recent changes in output, consumer prices, employment, and household finances, and highlights changes in the economic data during the second half of 2022 and into the winter months.

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Research article

High school academic performance and earnings by postsecondary field of study

This study looked at the potential role of high school grades in explaining earnings differences by field of study among a sample of postsecondary graduates who had attended a British Columbia high school. It found that differences in high school grades, despite being quite large, could not explain earnings patterns by field of study.

For example, results showed that despite being among top academic performers in high school courses, bachelor’s degree graduates of physical and life sciences and technologies programs registered average earnings for men, and below-average for women. This differed from male and female graduates of business, management and public administration programs, as they registered the highest earnings but had average academic performance in high school. The study also ruled out various non-cognitive skills such as self-esteem or social engagement among others as a factor behind the earnings differences by postsecondary field of study. Knowing the earnings potential of fields of study is important for postsecondary students in career planning.

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