Raising a family is harder but retiring is easier for Canadians today than in the ‘70s: UBC study

UBC Media Release

Canadian parents today are raising families with less money and time than the Baby Boomer generation even though the country’s economy has doubled in size since 1976, says a new study by the University of British Columbia.

Researchers in UBC’s Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) have created reports for each province in Canada, comparing the costs of living, household incomes and services available to families today with those during the 1970s.

“What we’re seeing is something I call ‘Generation Squeeze,’” says Paul Kershaw, an associate professor at HELP and lead author of the study. “The generation raising young kids today is squeezed for time at home, squeezed for income because of the high cost of housing, and squeezed for services like child care that would help them balance earning a living with raising a family.”…

Kershaw and colleague Lynell Anderson found that the average household income for young Canadian couples has flat-lined since the mid-1970s (after adjusting for inflation) even though the share of young women contributing to household incomes today is up 53 per cent. While household incomes have stalled, Generation Squeeze is simultaneously struggling with the costs of living because housing prices increased 76 per cent across the country.

According to Kershaw and Anderson, the time, income and service squeeze doesn’t just hurt young families. The Canadian business community pays more than $4 billion annually because work-life conflict among parents of pre-school children results in higher absenteeism, employee health insurance premiums and recruitment expenses. The squeeze also contributes to rising costs of crime, poverty, education and health care.

The study shows Canada is among the worst industrialized countries when it comes to adapting to the declining standard of living for young families.

“Canada needs a new policy to restore the standard of living for the generation raising young kids,” says Kershaw, who has calculated that the policy changes required would cost $22 billion annually or 2.8 per cent of the growth Canada’s economy has seen since 1976….

BACKGROUNDER  Oct. 18, 2011
Highlights by province: Declining standard of living for families

British Columbia: B.C. is the only province in which household income for young couples has fallen since 1976.  While incomes fell, B.C. witnessed the greatest increase in the cost of housing – up 149 per cent.  It is now harder to raise a family on the West Coast than it is anywhere else in the country.

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