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Overview of Trends of Economic Inequality in Canada
|Has the dispersion of earnings been increasing in recent decades?||Yes, top decile of earnings has been rising relative to the median since early 1950s.|
|Has overall inequality increased in recent years?||Yes, Gini coefficient is around 3 percentage points higher than in 1989 but most of the increase took place in the 1990s.|
|Have there been periods when overall inequality fell for a sustained period?||Incomplete evidence.|
|Has poverty been falling or rising in recent decades?||Poverty fell in the 1980’s and then rose.|
|Has there been a U-pattern for top income shares over time?||Yes, top gross income shares fell from 1938 until the mid-1980s and then began to rise.|
|Has the distribution of wealth followed the same pattern as income?||No evidence.|
|Additional noteworthy features|
Sources and References
Overall inequality: Gini coefficient of equivalised (from 2010 square root scale) after-tax family unit income from website of Statistics Canada, Table 202-0709; Gini coefficient for equivalised gross family income for 1965 to 1983 from Wolfson (1986, Table 3); Gini coefficient for gross family income restricted to non-farm families for 1959-1971 from Love (1979, Table A.3).
Top income shares: Share of top 1 per cent in total gross income from WTID, based on work of Saez and Veall (2007) and Veall (2010).
Poverty: Percentage of individuals in households with equivalised after-tax annual income below 50 per cent of the median from website of Statistics Canada, Table 202-0802.
Individual earnings: Series 1 from Atkinson (2008, Appendix C, Table C.4); Series 2 from OECD iLibrary, Employment and Labour Market Statistics, Gross earnings decile ratios.
Wealth: no suitable data were found.
- Atkinson, A B, 2008, The changing distribution of earnings in OECD countries, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Love, R, 1979, Income distribution and inequality in Canada, Ministry of Supply and Services, Ottawa.
- Saez, E and Veall, M R, 2007, “The evolution of high incomes in Canada: 1920- 2000” in A B Atkinson and T Piketty, editors, Top incomes over the twentieth century, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Veall, M R, 2010, “Top income shares in Canada: Updates and extensions”, working paper, McMaster University.
- Wolfson, M C, 1986, “Stasis Amid Change – Income Inequality in Canada 1965-1983”, Review of Income and Wealth, vol 32: 337-69.