IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Evolution of Wealth Inequality in Canada, 1984-1999


  • Rene Morissette

    (Business & Labor Market Analysis, Statistics Canada)

  • Xuelin Zhang

    (Business & Labor Market Analysis, Statistics Canada)

  • Marie Drolet

    (Business & Labor Market Analysis, Statistics Canada)


Using data from the Assets and Debts Survey of 1984 and the Survey of Financial Security of 1999, we document the evolution of wealth inequality in Canada between 1984 and 1999. Our main findings are as follows: 1) Wealth inequality has increased between 1984 and 1999; 2) the growth in wealth inequality has been associated with substantial declines in real average and median wealth for recent immigrants and young couples with children; 3) real median wealth and real average wealth rose much more among families whose major income recipient is a university graduate than among other families; 4) real median and average wealth fell among families whose major income recipient is aged 25–34 and increased among those whose major income recipient is aged 55 and over; 5) the aging of the Canadian population over the 1984–1999 period has tended to reduce wealth inequality; 6) changes in permanent income do not explain a substantial portion of the growing gap between low-wealth and high-wealth families. Factors that may have contributed to rising wealth inequality—which cannot be quantified with existing data sets—include differences in the growth of inheritances, inter vivos transfers, rates of return on savings and number of years worked full- time. In particular, rates of return on savings may have increased more for wealthy family units than for their poorer counterparts as a result of the booming stock market during the 1990s.

Suggested Citation

  • Rene Morissette & Xuelin Zhang & Marie Drolet, 2004. "The Evolution of Wealth Inequality in Canada, 1984-1999," Microeconomics 0401004, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:0401004
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; to print on 60

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Francine D. Blau & John W. Graham, 1990. "Black-White Differences in Wealth and Asset Composition," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 321-339.
    2. Davies, J B, 1979. "On the Size Distribution of Wealth in Canada," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 25(3), pages 237-259, September.
    3. Statistics Canada, 1998. "New Views on Inequality Trends in Canada and the United States," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1998124e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    4. Edward N. Wolff, "undated". "Racial Wealth Disparities Is the Gap Closing?," Economics Public Policy Brief Archive ppb_66, Levy Economics Institute.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    inequality; wealth; assets; debts; net worth;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

    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:wpa:wuwpmi:0401004. 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: (EconWPA). 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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.