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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

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    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

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