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En quelle année vaut-il mieux être né? Les revenus des hommes et des femmes au Canada pendant un quart de siècle


  • Grenier, Gilles

    (Département de science économique)


There exists a perception of economic inequalities among generations and more precisely that today’s younger generations are facing worse economic conditions than those who preceded them. In this paper, this hypothesis is tested for men and women in Canada. By pooling micro-data from the Canadian censuses of 1971, 1981, 1986, 1991 and 1996, earnings regressions are estimated to isolate the effects of birth year and age. Monetary values are converted using the Consumer Price Index (CPI). In the base specification, there are no other explanatory variables. For men, it is found that the “luckiest” generation is the one born in 1944 and that the least fortunate are those born recently. For women, the generation with the highest earnings is the one born in 1960 and the recent generations earn a lot more than the earlier ones. The inclusion of standard explanatory variable does not change the shape of the relationship between earnings and birth year, but the differences among generations are smaller. The results are sensitive to the use of the CPI to convert incomes. If it is assumed, as claimed by some, that the CPI systematically overestimated price increases in the past, the economic position of the younger generations is better than estimated otherwise. The inclusion of interaction terms between age and year of birth shows that the returns to age are lower for the recent generations than for the older ones. The results partly confirm some current ideas about the relative well-being of generations, but they also show the difficulty of comparing living standards over time. Il existe une perception qu’il y a des inégalités économiques entre les générations et plus précisément que la situation économique des jeunes travailleurs d’aujourd’hui est moins bonne que celle de leurs aînés. Dans ce texte, on cherche à tester cette hypothèse pour les hommes et les femmes au Canada. En combinant des microdonnées des recensements canadiens de 1971, 1981, 1986, 1991 et 1996, on estime des régressions de gains qui isolent les effets de l’année de naissance et de l’âge. Les valeurs monétaires sont converties avec l’indice des prix à la consommation (IPC). Dans la spécification de base, il n’y a pas d’autres variables explicatives. Pour les hommes, on obtient le résultat que la génération la plus « chanceuse » est celle née en 1944 et que les moins fortunés sont ceux nés récemment. Pour les femmes, la génération ayant les gains les plus élevés est celle née en 1960 et les générations récentes gagnent beaucoup plus que les plus anciennes. L’inclusion de variables explicatives standards ne change pas la forme de la relation entre les gains et l’année de naissance, mais les écarts entre générations sont plus petits. Les résultats sont sensibles à l’utilisation de l’IPC pour convertir les revenus. Si on suppose, comme certains le pensent, que l’IPC a systématiquement surestimé les augmentations de prix dans le passé, la situation économique des jeunes générations est meilleure que ce qu’on aurait estimé autrement. L’inclusion de variables d’interaction entre l’âge et l’année de naissance montre que les rendements selon l’âge sont plus petits pour les générations récentes que pour les générations anciennes. Les résultats confirment en partie certaines idées courantes sur le bien-être relatif des générations, mais ils montrent aussi la difficulté de comparer les niveaux de vie dans le temps.

Suggested Citation

  • Grenier, Gilles, 2003. "En quelle année vaut-il mieux être né? Les revenus des hommes et des femmes au Canada pendant un quart de siècle," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 79(3), pages 245-276, Septembre.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:actuec:v:79:y:2003:i:3:p:245-276

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul Beaudry & David A. Green, 2000. "Cohort patterns in Canadian earnings: assessing the role of skill premia in inequality trends," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(4), pages 907-936, November.
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    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion


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