Data sources, methods and definitions

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Data sources

This study uses annual data (1976 to 2014) from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The LFS is a monthly survey that collects labour market information for all household members aged 15 and over as well as demographic and family relationship information for all household members, making it possible to derive family types. Excluded from the survey's coverage are persons living on reserves and other Aboriginal settlements, full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and the institutionalized population. These groups together represent an exclusion of less than 2% of the Canadian population aged 15 and over.

The LFS began collecting earnings information from all employees for their main job in 1997. Respondents are asked to report their hourly rate of pay or their regular salary (weekly, bi-weekly, etc.) before taxes and other deductions, including tips, commissions and bonuses. Hourly and weekly earnings are calculated in conjunction with usual paid work hours per week.

In this study, families are classified based on the type of economic family. Couple families include married couples and common-law couples. Same-sex couples cannot, however, be identified with LFS data.


Single-earner family: a couple family, with at least one child under 16 at home, who reported that only one parent was employed in the survey reference week, either part time or full time, while the other was unemployed or not in the labour force; similarly, in a dual-earner family both parents are employed.

Stay-at-home parent: a person in a couple family with at least one child under 16 at home, who did not have a job or business, was not looking for work, was not attending school, and was not permanently unable to work during the survey reference week; parents on maternity/parental leave are not considered to be stay-at-home if they have a job to which to they are returning—they are considered employed and absent from work.

Employment rate: the number of persons employed in a group (e.g. age, sex, marital status, family type) expressed as a percentage of the population for that group.

Full-time work: refers to those who work at least 30 hours per week in their main job;
part-time work refers to those who work less than 30 hours per week.

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