Economic inequality by the numbers

The Survey of Financial Security, released Tuesday by Statistics Canada, paints a picture of persistent economic inequality and rising debt.

Canadians' net worth climbed 44.5% since 2005 to $243,800, mostly due to increases in housing prices. But debt levels also went up by 41.6% (totaling $1.3 trillion, mostly in mortgage debt). All figures are adjusted for inflation.

And if you dig deeper, there are other numbers that aren't so pretty. Overall, the distribution was slightly better in 2012 than in 2005, but remains very unequal:

  • The top 20% of Canadians have over 67% of the net wealth. The bottom 60% have only 11.1% percent.
  • The top 40% have 88.9% of the net wealth while the lowest quintile doesn’t even register.
  • The poorest 20% have a median net worth of $1,100 compared to $1.4 million for the highest quintile.
  • 25% of families now have a line of credit with a median value of $15,000, up from 15% in 1999 and with a median value of $6,600.
  • Family units with the major income recipient under 35 years old had the highest debt load in 2012. This may be because the money owed on student loans was up 44.1% since 1999, totaling $28.3 billion.
  • Canadians are relying on housing for their retirement security, with the median value of RRSPs at an inadequate $48,000.

Photo: goodncrazy. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.