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How Canada performs: Income inequality

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Conference Board of Canada
Publication Date: 
21 Sep 2011

Excerpts from the reports:

Is Canada becoming more unequal?

Income inequality in Canada has increased over the past 20 years. The richest group of Canadians increased their share of total national income, while poor and middle-income individuals lost ground. The gap between the real average income of the richest group of Canadians and the poorest group grew from $92,300 in 1976 to $117,500 in 2009. Another worrisome trend is the rise in elderly poverty since the mid-1990s, following 20 years of dramatic reductions. Between 2006 and 2009, nearly 128,000 more seniors were living in low income. Of that amount, 70 per cent were women.

Is the world becoming more unequal?

At the global level, income inequality rose sharply around the world between the 1980s and the mid-1990s, before levelling off and then falling after 2000. Even with the recent decline, 42 per cent of total world income today goes to those who make up the richest 10 per cent of the world's population, while just 1 per cent goes to those who make up the poorest 10 per cent. Countries with very high inequality are clustered in South America and southern Africa. Countries with low inequality are mostly in Europe. Canada and the U.S. have medium income inequality. And unlike most other countries, income inequality has continued to rise in Canada and the U.S. since the mid-1990s, with Canada outpacing the United States.