Gender wealth gaps laid bare in new Quebec study

Study finds men hold disproportionate share of wealth in the province

Gender wealth gaps laid bare in new Quebec study

A study from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) released last week highlighted acute gaps in wealth between men and women in Quebec. The study was conducted by Professor Maude Pugliese, who is the holder of the new Canada Research Chair in Family Financial Experiences and Wealth Inequality, and is the first study of its kind in Quebec.

While we are already aware of income inequality across much of Canada, the aim of the study, according to a press release announcing its results, was to find out more about wealth distribution. Pugliese notes that wealth distribution data is far more scarce than income, but highlights the importance of understanding where gaps lie in the wealth space.

“Wealth is an even more important resource for well-being than income, because it can act as a safety net in times of hardship and is crucial to well-being in retirement," Pugliese said.

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Wealth has typically been measured by household, which may have masked some of the gaps between men and women in terms of net assets. The study of 4,800 respondents found that men have almost 30 per cent more net wealth than women on average. When people live in a partnership, the gap is even wider. The study found that in common-law couples, men are 80 per cent wealthier than their female partners.

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While the research team found a wealth gap that is larger than the income gap between men and women. Some of that gap can be explained by income gaps, as well as differences in the ownership of real estate other than the primary residence between men and women. However, they note that the disparity cannot be fully explained by those factors. They see this as an impetus to collect more data on levels of wealth at both the household and individual level in Canada.

"These gender gaps are far larger than the pay gaps we are currently seeing between men and women in Quebec," said Maude Pugliese. "For example, we could explore whether women inherit as much as men, or whether they receive the same financial services and advice.”