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Income Security and Stability During Retirement in Canada

  • Picot, Garnett
  • Larochelle-Cote, Sebastien
  • Myles, John
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    Past research has shown that the Canadian pension system is relatively effective in helping seniors to stay out of poverty. However, the extent to which the pension system enables individuals and families to maintain living standards achieved during their working years after retirement (income security) is less well understood. To help fill this knowledge gap, we employ 20-year longitudinal data to track individuals as they move from age 55 through their retirement years. We use various measures of an individual's family income to study four main issues: change in income levels through retirement; the role that various income sources play in this change; variation in replacement rates through time and between poorer and richer individuals; and, finally, the degree of long-term stability in individual incomes. For workers with average incomes, family income falls after age 60, declines until age 68, and then stabilizes at approximately 80% of the income level they had at age 55. In contrast, low income individuals (those in the bottom income quintile) experience little change in income as they move from age 55 through the retirement years, largely because of the income maintenance effects of the public pension system. They experience high levels of individual income instability in their late 50s and early 60s, but income instability falls dramatically after retirement. Individuals in the top quintile experience substantially larger income declines in retirement so that income inequality within a cohort declines as the cohort ages. More recent groups of retirees are experiencing higher income levels than earlier cohorts, largely because of higher private pensions. Replacement rates have changed little among cohorts, however. Whether recent gains in income levels will persist in future cohorts is unknown since pension coverage has been falling among younger workers.

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    Paper provided by Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch in its series Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series with number 2008306e.

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    Date of creation: 10 Mar 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:2008306e
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Tunney's Pasture, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0T6
    Web page: http://www.statcan.gc.ca

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    1. Larochelle-Cote, Sebastien & Heisz, Andrew, 2006. "Work Hours Instability in Canada," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2006278e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    2. James P. Smith, 2003. "Trends and Projections in Income Replacement during Retirement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(4), pages 755-782, October.
    3. Drolet, Marie & Morissette, Rene, 1999. "The Evolution of Pension Coverage of Young and Prime-aged Workers in Canada," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1999138e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
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