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

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 Family Policy Report, as well as a National Summary and Fact Sheet are available on the Family Policy Reports and Resources page.

In addition to these reports, check out Dr. Kershaw’s weekly editorial in The Vancouver Sun.