2012 Wealth

For a more complete look at Canadian’s net worth including by age group and family type click the following link.


I recently read this article on lsminsurance which says Canadians have a higher net worth than Americans. The data shows that the median net worth per adult in Canada is $89,014. That means $89,014 represents the perfect cross section of our economy because half of Canada’s society has more, and the other half has less. In the US however, the median net worth per adult is $52,752. So in other words, most Canadians have more money than most Americans.

Median net worth matters in an economy because it determines the spending, financial security, and lifestyle of the typical middle class person. With a higher net worth we can take on larger amounts of debt without too much risk. A higher personal net worth in the economy also means more purchasing power for the middle class, less poverty and more equal wealth distribution.

However the article also states that the average net worth of Canadians is only $245,455, but that of Americans is $248,395, which is slightly higher than ours. So in this sense, our US friends are actually wealthier than we are. Average doesn’t give us an accurate picture of the common middle class person. However it is still an important statistic because it determines the spending, financial security, and lifestyle of an upper class person.

In the end I think both median and average indicators in these kinds of studies are important. But statistics and facts are only that. They represent information that we have to interpret ourselves to give them meaning. In Canada the common person can spend $60,000 on an expensive vacation and still have more assets then debt, but the policies here make it difficult to become very rich. In the US most people don’t have the luxury to spend $60,000, unless they are comfortable having a negative net worth (o.O), but it’s easier to become wealthy there. 32% of the world’s billionaires live in the US after all. Both economies have their pros and cons. Maybe one day I will move to the US if I ever develop a successful business idea or see an opportunity to make it big. But since I don’t at this point, I’m happy staying in Canada.

Random Useless Fact: The average cost of a wedding in the United States last year was $27,021 (U.S.)

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04/30/2012 4:19 am

2 points:
1 – These numbers show that the US has a greater divide amongst it’s population in terms of wealth which is the cause of much growing tension, so be prepared for more instability in the economy,
2 – Remember that in Canada we also have a REALLY good health care system which does not show up typically in these comparison numbers, which would add to our overall networth.

04/30/2012 10:45 pm
Reply to  Phil

Ah yes, our health care system is one of our proudest assets yet its value is intangible so they disregarded it entirely in their studies lol. One thing I’m a little concerned about is how much of our wealth as Canadians is tied up in real estate. While I don’t see a big correction any time soon, I feel as though some of our other investments have been underfunded lately such as trade, education and resources. When interest rates inevitably climb which will slow down the housing market, I wonder where else are people going to put their savings for a long term investment.

Daisy @ Add Vodka
04/30/2012 6:11 am

Hmmm. Well, I think it’s easier to be wealthy in the US because home prices are lower, expenses are lower, etc. However, there are still a lot of impoverished people in the US because health care comes at a premium; it wouldn’t break us Canadians to get sick, but it can be the difference between being financially OK or being in financial ruins in the US.

Sean @ One Smart Dollar
04/30/2012 12:36 pm

I don’t agree that Canada has higher home prices (pre-bubble) or higher cost of living as a whole. You have cities (Vancouver) that have a high cost of living just like us. Being someone who has lived in Chicago I can attest to high home prices and cost of living. I also know what if you ask someone who lives in New York City or Los Angeles they will agree with me on that even more. To rent a 600 sq ft apartment in New York City can easily run close to $1,500-$2,000/month.

I would like if anything its easier to be wealthy in Canada because of health care costs.

04/30/2012 11:02 pm

@ Sean
Yikes, that’s really expensive for a 600 sq ft apartment. We hear how the housing market is still depressed in the US, but I suppose it depends on the geography too because it looks like some places are doing great.

04/30/2012 10:59 pm

@ Daisy

I think that’s probably why more elderly folks prefer to live here. It’s hard to imagine in the future when the populations grows older and it will be up to young workers like us to support them. Hopefully they will take good care of themselves and won’t get sick too often.

Jeremy @ Modest Money
04/30/2012 8:11 am

Personally I think I’m likely to stay living in Canada. It seems like there might be more opportunities for financial gain in the US, but I am comfortable here. It’s a pretty lame reason to stay, but at the same time I know that moving south won’t necessarily guarantee me a higher salary.

04/30/2012 11:04 pm

That’s the same reason I have for staying here. It’s just so comfortable. I’m used to my friends, my job, my home and community and don’t want to change what I have right now.

04/30/2012 8:45 am

You Canadians have got it all – more money, healthcare, better mainstream music, “Kids in the Hall” .. 🙂

A lot of people get pretty confused by definitions of average and median. My favorite example of this is to say “Imagine you, me, and Warren Buffett are in the same room. What would our average income be? Now what would our median income be?” That usually clears it up.

04/30/2012 11:07 pm
Reply to  MyMoneyDesign

That’s a good analogy. I’m sure kids are suppose to learn the difference in math class or something but then they forget. Yes our music up here is great. We even have Justin Bieber *sarcasm*

From Shopping to Saving
From Shopping to Saving
04/30/2012 2:11 pm

I’m in the US and obviously the medians and averages are purely statistical and are not representative of the entire population. There are a lot of different cities here that are probably up to par with Canada’s most expensive cities. Those people are much wealthier than those in the suburbs or smaller cities. It’s really hard to gauge an entire country based off of numbers alone. It sucks though because a lot of Americans are saddled with debt, and that plays a huge role in the low net worth statistic.

04/30/2012 11:10 pm

Debt can be such a crippling burden for an otherwise perfectly functional household. Thanks for the input. I like hearing viewpoints from people in different countries.