Measuring Income Mobility in Canada

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This study measures income mobility in Canada over two five-year periods (1996-2001 and 2002-2007) and over a 10-year and a 19-year period (1990-2000 and 1990-2009). In all periods, Canadians initially in the lowest income group (the bottom 20%) experienced the greatest relative income increase.

Key findings

  • This study measures income mobility in Canada over two five-year periods (1996-2001 and 2002-2007) and over a 10-year and a 19-year period (1990-2000 and 1990-2009). In all periods, Canadians initially in the lowest income group (the bottom 20%) experienced the greatest relative income increase.
  • Over the 10-year period (1990 to 2000), 83 percent of Canadians who started in the bottom 20% moved to a higher income group. Over the 19-year period (1990 to 2009), 87 percent in the bottom 20% moved up with 21 percent of them reaching the highest income group (the top 20%).
  • Some Canadians experienced a relative decline in income. Of those in the top 20% in 1990, 36 percent moved down at least one income group by 2009.
  • The average income of those initially in the bottom 20% in 1990 grew an impressive 635 percent by 2009, while the average income of those initially in the top 20% grew by only 23 percent over the same period.
  • In 1990, the average income of individuals in the highest income group was 13 times that of individuals initially in the lowest group. By 2009, those who had been in the highest group in 1990 had an average income only twice that of those who had been in the lowest group in 1990.

Most Canadians move up the income ladder.


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