Data sources, methods and definitions

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Data sources

The Longitudinal and International Study of Adults (LISA) is a new longitudinal household survey that collects social and economic data about the Canadian population every two years. The core survey content provides information on the interaction of labour market, education and family experiences, positions these events in the context of people's lives by recognizing the dynamics between yesterday's decisions and today's achievements, and links these transitions to outcomes within other areas of life. With LISA, Canada now joins many other countries such as the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia that maintain a longitudinal multi-topic household survey.

LISA collected information from 23,926 respondents living in 11,425 households in 2012. This study examines the pension coverage of employees aged 25 to 54 (who worked during the reference week or in the previous 12 months and who had positive employment income in the previous year). For multiple job-holders, the main job is identified as the job with the highest earnings in 2011. The resulting sample includes 9,536 employees.

Data from the T1 Family file (T1FF), the T4 Statement of Remuneration Paid (T4) and the Pension Plan in Canada file (PPIC) are combined with the LISA survey data to yield a rich profile of respondents. The registered pension plan number (available on the T4 slip issued to all paid workers by their employer for the purposes of declaring income taxes) is used to link detailed pension plan information from the PPIC data file for 2011. Of the sample of 9,536 employees, 2,791 were covered by defined benefit RPPs and 1,036 were covered by defined contribution or hybrid RPPs. The remainder had no RPPs.


Registered pension plan (RPP): A plan the employer establishes to provide a pension to retiring employees. Regular employer contributions finance retirement benefits, and, in many cases, so do employee contributions and investment income resulting from these contributions.

Defined benefit (DB) plan: An RPP under which benefits correspond to a set amount or are determined with a formula providing a pension unit for each year of service.

Defined contribution (DC) plan: An RPP in which the value of accumulated contributions is applied upon employee retirement to provide pension income. As opposed to DB plans, the amount of contributions is known, but the amount of benefits is only known when employees retire. Employee benefits depend on investment profits and the pension accrual rate.

Hybrid/mixed plans (H/M plans): Hybrid plans provide the best of a defined benefit and a defined contribution option. Mixed plans provide income from both defined benefit and defined contribution portions. These two plans have been grouped because each has a DB and a DC component, albeit combined in different manners. In hybrid plans, some degree of risk is shared between the employer and employees.

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