IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Basic Living Expenses for the Canadian Elderly


  • Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald
  • Doug Andrews
  • Robert L. Brown


Our research undertakes to determine the basic living expenses required by Canadian seniors living in different circumstances in terms of age, gender, city of residence, household size, homeowner or renter, means of transportation and health status. The paper develops required expenses for food, shelter, health care, transportation and miscellaneous. The research identifies the typical expenses of seniors in each of these categories. Using 2001 as our base year, we follow the US Elder Standard to build an elderly threshold for Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. The research is unique because it is the first Canadian study of absolute basic living expenses tailored to seniors, rather than simply to adults in general. This information is important to seniors, prospective retirees, financial planners, policy makers and actuaries in assessing the minimum level of income required in retirement and the adequacy of savings and income security programs. Our conclusions suggest that individual circumstances, rather than age, are the primary drivers in determining the cost of these basic expenses. Seniors are a diverse group, particularly with respect to health, so it is important that seniors and financial planners do not blindly rely on a fixed replacement ratio or universal level of income when projecting the level of finances needed to retire. This research enables the reader to determine the threshold that is suited to a senior’s general circumstances.

Suggested Citation

  • Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald & Doug Andrews & Robert L. Brown, 2009. "Basic Living Expenses for the Canadian Elderly," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 240, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:240

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cloutier-Fisher, Denise & Joseph, Alun E., 2000. "Long-term care restructuring in rural Ontario: retrieving community service user and provider narratives," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 50(7-8), pages 1037-1045, April.
    2. Bottorff, Joan L. & Johnson, Joy L. & Bhagat, Radhika & Grewal, Sukhdev & Balneaves, Lynda G. & Clarke, Heather & Hilton, B. Ann, 1998. "Beliefs related to breast health practices: the perceptions of South Asian women living in Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 47(12), pages 2075-2085, December.
    3. Wilson, Kathi & Rosenberg, Mark W., 2004. "Accessibility and the Canadian health care system: squaring perceptions and realities," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 137-148, February.
    4. Vernon, Sally W. & Laville, Elizabeth A. & Jackson, Gilchrist L., 1990. "Participation in breast screening programs: A review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 30(10), pages 1107-1118, January.
    5. Heather Conde & James Ted McDonald, 2007. "The Health Services Use Among Older Canadians in Rural and Urban Areas," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 178, McMaster University.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Retirement Income Adequacy; Absolute Measure; Elder Standard; Canadian Data;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:240. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.