Measuring Voluntary Inter-household Transfers in Canada

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by Jackson Chung


The author wishes to thank Alison Hale and Brian Murphy for their input, comments, and support. He is also grateful for comments provided by Diane Galarneau, Sébastien Larochelle-Côté, Ted Wannell, Chantal Hicks, Yan Feng, Paul Roberts, and participants at the at the Statistics Canada Socio-economic Conference held in Gatineau in April 2010.


Households provide money, goods and services directly to help other households: these inter-household transfers add up to a sizable flow of economic resources between households. While measured by Statistics Canada surveys, inter-household transfers are not included in the recipient household's total income—except court-ordered alimony and child support payments. Because inter-household transfers affect a household's ability to consume goods (Smeeding and Weinburg, 2001), they are important in measuring a household's economic well-being. This paper examines the conceptual and measurement issues related to voluntary inter-household transfers, and provides a portrait of voluntary inter-household transfer in Canada. This paper uses the recent data on inter-household transfers from Statistics Canada's income, expenditure, and wealth surveys.


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