Canadian households saw net-worth make big gains over the past few decades. Using Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data from the recently released Survey of Financial Security (SFS), we can see how net-worth evolved for each age group from 1999 to 2019. Generally speaking, net-worth soared for most demographics. However, there are some notable exceptions, like people under 35 in Toronto. Those people have seen their median net-worth drop compared to their peers 20 years ago.
Canadians Have Seen The Median Net-Worth Double Over 20 Years
Canadian households have seen a huge increase in median net-worth over the past 20 years. The median net-worth for all households reached $329,900 in 2019, up 115.48% from 1999. The fastest growing age group was those 45 to 54, with a median net-worth of $521,100 – up 91.02% over that period. Those between 35 and 44 experienced the slowest growth, with a median net-worth of $234,400, up 68.03% over the period. Most of Canada saw gains from the rise in wealth, but those under 35 have some notable exceptions.
Canadian Median Net-Worth By Age GroupThe estimated median net-worth of Canadians by age of household head, for selected regions. Source: Stat Can, Better Dwelling.
Toronto Sees Median Net-Worth Decline For People Under 35
Canadians under the age of 35 made big gains in their median net-worth, except in Canada’s biggest city. Across Canada, the median net-worth for this age group jumped to $48,800 in 2019, up 87.69% from 1999. Vancouver’s youth saw the median net-worth rise to $78,900, up 319.3% over the same period – over 3x the national rate. On the flip side of that stat is Toronto, which saw the median net-worth fall to $48,000, down 10.11% over the two decades prior. Yes, fall. Toronto is one of two cities in the data set to show a decline over the past two decades, with Calgary being the other.
Canadian Median Net-Worth Change Under 35The percent change in estimated median net-worth of Canadian households led by someone aged 35 and under from 1999 to 2019, for selected regions. Adjusted for inflation. Source: Stat Can, Better Dwelling.
Canadians Between 45 and 54 See Biggest Median Net-Worth Gains
Canadian households led by people between 45 and 54 saw the fastest growth at the national level. As stated above, this age group now has a median net-worth of $521,100 in 2019, up 91.02% since 1999. Toronto’s median net-worth for this age group reached $840,300, up 207.91% over the same period. Households in Vancouver saw more modest gains at $757,000, up 82.06% over the two decades. Toronto is greatly overrepresented in terms of growth for this demographic. Vancouver is underrepresented in this area.
Canadian Median Net-Worth Change By AgeThe percent change in estimated median net-worth of Canadian households by age of household head from 1999 to 2019, for selected regions. Adjusted for inflation. Source: Stat Can, Better Dwelling.
One important factor to consider for these demographics is their age in 1999. Most middle class net-worth has been produced by a rise in real estate values, not investments. This helps provide some context for the fastest growing demographic. Those between 45 and 54 would have been 24 and 35 at the first measurement. In a city like Toronto, they would have been buying real estate at the inflation adjusted trough.
Buying at this time would have accelerated their net-worth, with ideal market timing. It would have been near perfect generational timing in a city like Toronto. By 2019, the average home buyer across Canada is now 36. This means on average they would have lacked any real estate gains.
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