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The Maturation of Canada's Retirement Income System: Income Levels, Income Inequality and Low Income Among the Elderly


  • Myles, John


This paper revisits trends in the level and distribution of income among Canadian seniors in the context of what is arguably the major source of change in these trends since the end of the seventies, the maturation of Canada's public and private earnings-related pension systems. The expanded role of earnings-related pensions in the 1980s and 1990s is largely the result of changes that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s. The Canada and Quebec Pension Plans (C/QPP) were implemented in 1966 and the first cohort to receive full C/QPP benefits turned 65 in 1976. Cohorts retiring after this period were also the beneficiaries of the expansion of private occupational pensions that took place between the 1950s and the 1970s. The author relies on a detailed decomposition of income by source to show that not only did the maturation of these earnings-related programs produce a substantial increase in average real incomes but also to a substantial reduction in income inequality among the elderly, due mainly to C/QPP benefits. Rising real incomes went disproportionately to lower income seniors contributing to the well-known decline in low-income rates among the elderly.

Suggested Citation

  • Myles, John, 2000. "The Maturation of Canada's Retirement Income System: Income Levels, Income Inequality and Low Income Among the Elderly," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2000147e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  • Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:2000147e

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alan S. Blinder, 1982. "Private Pensions and Public Pensions: Theory and Fact," NBER Working Papers 0902, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Burkhauser, Richard V & Smeeding, Timothy M & Merz, Joachim, 1996. "Relative Inequality and Poverty in Germany and the United States Using Alternative Equivalence Scales," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(4), pages 381-400, December.
    3. Diamond, P. A. & Hausman, J. A., 1984. "Individual retirement and savings behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 81-114.
    4. Mitchell, Deborah & Harding, Ann & Gruen, Fred, 1994. "Targeting Welfare," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 70(210), pages 315-340, September.
    5. Smeeding, Timothy M & Sullivan, Dennis H, 1998. "Generations and the Distribution of Economic Well-Being: A Cross-National View," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 254-258, May.
    6. Lerman, Robert I & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1985. "Income Inequality Effects by Income," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 151-156, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lynn McDonald & A. Leslie Robb, 2003. "The Economic Legacy of Divorced and Separated Women in Old Age," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 104, McMaster University.
    2. Robert Andersen & M. McIvor, 2013. "GINI Country Report: Growing Inequalities and their Impacts in Canada," GINI Country Reports canada, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    3. Statistics Canada, 2007. "Income Inequality and Redistribution in Canada: 1976 to 2004," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2007298e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    4. Marcelin Joanis & Edgard Rodriguez, 2013. "Public Redistribution and Inequality in a Period of Fiscal Consolidation: A Decomposition Analysis for Canada in the 1980s and 1990s," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 32(2), pages 218-238, June.


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