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New study: The evolution of Canadian wages over the last three decades

Published by Mark Bodnar

Interesting new research from Statistics Canada on The Evolution of Canadian Wages over the Last Three Decades...

Comments from the researchers:

In Canada and many other industrialized countries, the hourly wages of various groups of workers grew at markedly different rates over the last thirty years. A massive literature dating back to the mid-1980s has attempted to uncover why the pay rates of some workers grew faster than those of others. Technological changes, growth in international trade, institutional factors (e.g., de-unionization, changes in minimum wages, and changes in the incidence of pay-for-performance), movements in group-specific labour supplies, and changes in social norms have been cited as potential drivers of differential wage growth.

While the relative importance of the aforementioned factors is still open to debate, two simple, but important, questions emerge:

  • * Which groups of Canadian workers and which sectors of the Canadian economy experienced relatively stronger real-wage growth over the last three decades?
  • * To what extent do individuals’ acquisition of education, general work experience, and job tenure within firms, as well as their movements into low- or high-paying occupations and industries, account for the differences in real-wage growth observed across groups of workers?

This study focuses on how real wages of Canadian workers evolved from 1981 to 2011 across five dimensions: gender, age, education, industry, and occupation.

For more studies like this, see Statistics Canada's Social Analysis Research.  Also consider the Canadian Public Policy Collection via the SFU Library.