Income Security and Stability During Retirement in Canada
Myles, John F.
Past research has shown that the Canadian pension system is relatively effective in helping seniors to stay out of poverty. However, the extent to which the pension system enables individuals and families to maintain living standards achieved during their working years after retirement (income security) is less well understood. To help fill this knowledge gap, we employ 20-year longitudinal data to track individuals as they move from age 55 through their retirement years. We use various measures of an individual's family income to study four main issues: change in income levels through retirement; the role that various income sources play in this change; variation in replacement rates through time and between poorer and richer individuals; and, finally, the degree of long-term stability in individual incomes. For workers with average incomes, family income falls after age 60, declines until age 68, and then stabilizes at approximately 80% of the income level they had at age 55. In contrast, low income individuals (those in the bottom income quintile) experience little change in income as they move from age 55 through the retirement years, largely because of the income maintenance effects of the public pension system. They experience high levels of individual income instability in their late 50s and early 60s, but income instability falls dramatically after retirement. Individuals in the top quintile experience substantially larger income declines in retirement so that income inequality within a cohort declines as the cohort ages. More recent groups of retirees are experiencing higher income levels than earlier cohorts, largely because of higher private pensions. Replacement rates have changed little among cohorts, however. Whether recent gains in income levels will persist in future cohorts is unknown since pension coverage has been falling among younger workers.
Labour, Income, pensions, spending and wealth, Wages, salaries and other earnings, Household, family and personal income, Pension plans and funds and other retirement income programs
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