Income and Housing in Canada
A brief examination of the spatial variation of some income and housing numbers from the 2006 Canadian Census.

Where in BC do people have the highest average income? Where are homes more likely to be rented? The Canadian 2006 Census release from Statistics Canada on May 1, 2008 highlights "Income and Earning" as well as "Housing and Shelter Costs". These two survey results, from the long census form (filled in by people in every 5th home referred to as the 20% sample), help describe fundamental differences within Canada between urban and rural areas as well as some surprising similarities.

Figure 1: Income Variation in BC, 2005, from 2006 Census, 20% sample
Source: Adapted from Statistics Canada by W.W. Munroe

By mapping the variation in income by Regional Districts (RDs), we see that the highest incomes were made in opposite corners of the province. The highest median total incomes in BC in 2005 (the year in question in the 2006 census) were in the northeast and in the southwest. The Northern Rockies RD had the highest median followed closely by the Peace River RD and the Capital Region, including Victoria and the surrounding municipalities.

The relative abundance of valuable natural resources including fossil fuels has provided high paying jobs in northern BC east of the Rockies. Wages will likely stay high as long as commodity prices stay high. Usually the most peripheral areas, those furthest from the high density core areas, experience higher peaks during boom times and lower troughs during bust times. On the other hand the high density areas, like the financial and administrative centers of Vancouver and Victoria, have relatively less variation in the economic cycles.

Figure 2: Z-scores of the Percent of Homes with Couples with Children, 2006 Census, 20% sample
Source: Adapted from Statistics Canada by W.W. Munroe

When looking at the family questions release from the Canadian 2006 census, we noticed that the Northeast also has the highest percent of homes with couples with children in the province, along with the Bulkley/Nechako. On the other end of the spectrum, the Okanagan and the Nanaimo RDs have the lowest percent of homes with couples with children.

Figure 3: Variation in the Percent of Renters, Canada, 2006 Census, 20% sample
Source: Adapted from Statistics Canada by W.W. Munroe

The areas with the lowest density and the highest density shared similar characteristics in terms of home ownership. In Canada as a whole, the regions with the highest percent of renters were in the far north and the biggest cities. The areas with the lowest proportion of renters were found between the high and low density areas, and particularly in Manitoba.

The average percent of renters for Census Divisions in Canada in 2006 was 25% with a standard deviation of 10%; therefore most regions (~70%) had between 15% and 35 % renters. While 20 regions had less than 15% renters, far more regions (33) had more than 35% renters, and some of these were extremly high. The distribution is therefore somewhat skewed. Nunavut and Montreal had a very high percent of renters in 2006 at 75% and 65% respectively. Quebec had the largest proportion of renters among the provinces. In BC, the Stikine had 45%, and the Capital and the Greater Vancouver Regional Districts had around 35% renters while the rest of the province had close to the Canadian average percentage of renters.

The Housing and Shelter Costs results from the 2006 Census in Canada show considerable variation within the country. The proportion of renters increases in larger cities as well as urban areas that are attractive to young adults such as university towns. The north and Quebec share high proportions of renters but have very different social, economic, and geographic characteristics and histories. Perhaps the similarity can be explained by the relationship between these areas and the state.

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