Two decades of poverty reduction politics in Canada: Better for single parent families and single working age adults?

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Title: Two decades of poverty reduction politics in Canada: Better for single parent families and single working age adults?
Authors: Notten, Geranda
Tuz Zohora, Fatima
Plante, Charles
Laforest, Rachel
Date: 2022
Abstract: Over the past two decades, poverty reduction entered and often stayed on the political agenda of Canada’s jurisdictions, generating a trail of government reports documenting many actions and spanning multiple election cycles. This paper investigates whether this social inclusion-oriented policy environment improved the position of single parent families and single working age adults, two groups at particularly high risk of experiencing poverty. They are also more likely to face multiple barriers making it harder for them to avoid or escape poverty. Using microdata from the Canadian Income Survey (CIS) and its predecessor (1999-2017), we analyze poverty changes in a relative sense (compared to the typical Canadian) and an absolute sense (purchasing power). Our model controls for changes in demographic and regional characteristics and uses households consisting of multiple working age adults as a reference. Against the backdrop of substantive declines in absolute poverty with little change in relative poverty levels for Canada as a whole, we find that the poverty disadvantage declined for both groups. However, although improvements for single parent families have been strong and widespread, improvements for single adults of working age have been smaller and were more concentrated in provinces experiencing stronger economic growth. These results support the claim that governments prioritize the inclusion of families with dependent children while the inclusion of single working age adults is largely left to the fortunes of the economy. Notwithstanding the progress documented here, poverty rates of these high poverty risk groups remain far above Canada’s average and single working age adults continue to experience deeper than average poverty gaps.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/43745
CollectionÉconomie - Publications // Economics - Working Papers
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