Health Status of Canadians 2016: Report of the Chief Public Health Officer - What is influencing our health? - Income

What is influencing our health?

Income

In 2014, the average household income after taxes was $68,000.Footnote 1 Just under 5 million or just over 1 in 10 Canadians were living in low-income households (see Figure 1)Footnote 2.

Figure 1: Just over 1 in 10 Canadians were living in low-income households.Footnote 2

For this section, low income is considered as any income that is less than half of a country's average income, calculated after taxes and transfers.Footnote 2,Footnote 8 Income influences people's health and is an important predictor of health outcomes, such as life expectancy and risk for some diseases.Footnote 3-7

Over time

The proportion of Canadians living in low income has fluctuated from 13% in 1976 to 11% in 1989 and back to 13% in 2014.Footnote 8 The gap between those with the highest and lowest incomes has been growing (see Figure 2)Footnote 9.

Figure 2: Average income (after taxes) in those living in highest and lowest income levels, 1976-2014Footnote 9
Figure 2

Deciles are calculated by dividing the Canadian population into ten groups of equal size (deciles) based on income.

Text Equivalent

Line chart showing average income after taxes in those living in the highest and lowest incomes levels from 1976 to 2014. These data are divided into income deciles. Deciles are calculated by dividing the Canadian population into ten groups of equal size (deciles) based on neighbourhood income.

Lowest decile

  • 1976 = $8,300
  • 1982 = $9,500
  • 1988 = $10,700
  • 1994 = $9,500
  • 2002 = $9,300
  • 2008 = $10,500
  • 2014 = $9,300

Highest decile

  • 1976 = $139,300
  • 1982 = $131,000
  • 1988 = $133,500
  • 1994 = $127,200
  • 2002 = $163,400
  • 2008 = $178,500
  • 2014 = $186,500

By sex

In the past, men were less likely to have a low income than women. More recently, men and women were equally likely to have a low income.Footnote 2

Percent of Canadian men and women living with a low income, 1976 and 2014Footnote 2
  1976 2014
Men 12% 13%
Women 15% 14%

By age

The proportion of older Canadians who have a low income has decreased from 31% in 1976 to 13% in 2013. Other age groups have seen a slight increase.Footnote 2

Percent of Canadians in low income by age, 1976 and 2014Footnote 2
Age group 1976 2014
Under 18 years 14% 15%
18 to 64 years 10% 13%
65 years and older 31% 13%

Indigenous populations

Data on income in Indigenous populations are not directly comparable to the data described above. Comparable data show that Indigenous populations, particularly First Nations at just over 30%, were more likely to have a low income than non-Indigenous populations at just under 15% (see Figure 3)Footnote 10.

Figure 3: Percent of Canadians living in low income, 2011Footnote 10
Figure 3
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Bar chart showing the percent of Canadians living low income in 2011.

  • First Nations : 30.4%
  • Métis : 20%
  • Inuit : 21.5%
  • Total Indigenous: 25.3%
  • Non-Indigenous: 14.5%

International comparison

In 2013, the proportion of people living with a low income was highest in the United States at just under 18% and lowest in France at 8%. Canada ranked in the middle of G7 countries at just under 13% (see Figure 4)Footnote 11.

Figure 4: Percent of people living with a low income (after taxes and transfers) in G7 countries, 2013Footnote 11
Figure 4

† For Japan: data for 2012

Text Equivalent

Bar graphs showing the percent of people living in poverty in G7 countries in 2013.

  • Canada = 12.6%
  • United States = 17.2%
  • United Kingdom = 10.4%
  • France = 8.0%
  • Germany = 9.1%
  • Italy = 13.3%
  • Japan = 16.1%

Notes to the reader

  • Indigenous populations consist of First Nations, Métis and Inuit.
  • The data on Indigenous populations have not been adjusted for their high cost of living, meaning gaps may not accurately represent reality.
  • G7 countries include seven of the world's industrialized countries, namely the United States, Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Canada, that form an informal discussion group and economic partnership.

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