Economic Insights
Postsecondary Enrolment by Parental Income: Recent National and Provincial Trends

by Marc Frenette
Social Analysis and Modelling Division

Release date: April 10, 2017

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This Economic Insights article documents postsecondary enrolment rates among 19-year-olds over the 2001-to-2014 period by province of parental residence, parental income and sex. The data are drawn from the T1 Family File. Postsecondary enrolment is determined by the tuition, education and textbook credits on the personal income tax files. Parental income refers to the adult-equivalent, after-tax income of parents, expressed in 2014 constant dollars. Youth are grouped by parental income quintiles. Overall, the results suggest that the percentage of 19-year-olds enrolled in a postsecondary education program increased steadily from 2001 to 2014 among youth from all families, but particularly at the bottom of the income distribution. Enrolment rates increased faster among Eastern provinces compared to Western provinces, while young men and women both registered similar gains in enrolment rates throughout the period.

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Introduction

Many factors come into play in determining whether students pursue a postsecondary education. At a broad level, costs, parental and peer influences, and academic achievement all play important roles (Frenette 2007). From a policy perspective, however, family income is generally a key target in the student financial aid system. Many programs are in fact designed to make postsecondary education more affordable for youth from lower-income families

University tuition fees have outpaced the rate of inflation in recent yearsNote 1. Many initiatives have been implemented at the federal and provincial levels to offset the costs of attending postsecondary institutions for lower-income youth. For example, the federal government introduced the Additional Canada Education Savings Grant and the Canada Learning Bond in 2004, both geared towards lower-income families. Between 2005 and 2009, lower-income youth had access to the Millennium Access Bursary and the Canada Access Grant for Students from Low-income Families. In 2009 the latter was replaced by the Canada Student Grant for Students from Low-Income Families, which is still available. Many other programs have been implemented with similar goals in mind.

Given the increased fees and the emergence of targeted student financial aid initiatives, whether postsecondary education has become more financially viable for youth from lower-income families in recent years is an open question. The goal of this article is to inform the issue by looking at recent trends in postsecondary enrolment by parental income at the national and provincial levels. A portion of the analysis will also focus on enrolment trends by sex.

The study uses the T1 Family File (T1FF) to track the postsecondary enrolment rates of 19-year-olds over the period from 2001 to 2014 by parental income and parental province of residence. No study has yet looked at the issue at the provincial level.Note 2 Postsecondary enrolment is determined by the tuition, education and textbook credits on the personal income tax files.Note 3 Parental income and parental province of residence are measured when youth are 19 years old.Note 4 At this point in their lives, youth are old enough to attend postsecondary institutions, and about three-quarters of them are matched to their parents in the tax files.Note 5 Parental income refers to the adult-equivalent, after-tax income of parents, expressed in 2014 constant dollars.Note 6 Youth are grouped by parental income quintiles. More details on the approaches taken in the study are given in the “Data and definitions” section at the end of this paper. Additionally, the appendix discusses in great detail the validity of the data and approaches used in the study.

Postsecondary enrolment rising across the income distribution, but larger gains at bottom

The postsecondary enrolment rate of 19-year-olds across all Canadian provinces increased steadily from 52.6% in 2001 to 63.8% in 2014 (Chart 1).Note 7 This 11.2-percentage-point increase is equivalent to a 21.3% rise over the 13-year period.

Chart 1 Postsecondary attendance rate by parental income quintile

Data table for Chart 1
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), All, Bottom quintile, Second quintile, Third quintile, Fourth quintile and Top quintitle, calculated using rate (percent) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year All Bottom quintile Second quintile Third quintile Fourth quintile Top quintitle
rate (percent)
2001 52.62239 37.66566 49.13452 56.10394 63.05967 72.63722
2002 53.74874 38.13030 49.89748 57.19543 64.96728 73.57281
2003 55.19572 39.08150 51.16623 58.56393 66.03337 75.54261
2004 56.16428 39.78105 51.71974 59.12188 66.96564 76.09540
2005 56.89732 39.95511 51.94590 59.70283 67.08871 76.22376
2006 58.46603 41.44812 53.16116 61.02043 68.01556 76.58681
2007 59.23740 42.02820 53.24221 61.03652 68.50942 76.82474
2008 59.92562 42.12589 54.06462 61.67455 68.91783 76.91788
2009 61.20814 42.85064 54.68778 62.84678 70.00217 78.98919
2010 62.10978 43.93066 55.52710 63.91130 70.93113 79.42777
2011 62.38404 44.36692 56.07012 63.68044 71.25797 79.40762
2012 62.85711 45.43008 56.66460 64.23139 70.68532 78.79899
2013 63.12502 45.85927 57.39716 63.75054 70.65223 78.62015
2014 63.80526 47.05363 57.23712 64.85563 71.18516 78.69431

Chart 1 also shows that postsecondary enrolment rates also rose among youth from families across the income distribution. However, the gains were not evenly distributed, both in an absolute sense and in a relative sense. In general, larger increases were registered among youth from families with lower income. In 2001, 72.6% of 19-year-olds from families in the top after-tax income quintile were enrolled in postsecondary programs. This figure rose moderately over the next 13 years, reaching 78.7% in 2014. This yielded a 6.1-percentage-point (or 8.3%) increase. In contrast, the enrolment rate among their counterparts in the bottom income quintile increased from 37.7% in 2001 to 47.1% in 2014, a 9.4-percentage-point (or 24.9%) increase.Note 8

The larger relative gains registered by members of the bottom income quintile are shown more clearly in Chart 2. The indicator was developed by dividing the postsecondary enrolment rate among 19-year-olds in the bottom quintile (Q1) of the distribution by the rate among members in the top quintile (Q5). This ratio (Q1/Q5), which is set to 100 at the beginning of the period (2001), rose by 15.3% over the 13-year span.

Chart 2 Relative postsecondary attendance rate of youth in the bottom income quintile compared with the top quintile, by year

Data table for Chart 2
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Bottom quintile compared with top quintile, calculated using relative rate (2001 = 100) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Bottom quintile compared with top quintile
relative rate (2001 = 100)
2001 100.00
2002 99.94625166
2003 99.76836867
2004 100.81646611
2005 101.08706684
2006 104.36730966
2007 105.50020990
2008 105.61738637
2009 104.61724641
2010 106.66182027
2011 107.74837610
2012 111.18251228
2013 112.48818298
2014 115.30906056

Strong enrolment growth in East, moderate growth in West

Postsecondary enrolment rates among 19-year-olds from Ontario and provinces east of Ontario increased steadily between 2001 and 2014 (Chart 3). Note 9 Growth was strongest among youth from Newfoundland and Labrador (18.7 percentage points), followed by youth from Ontario (16.1 percentage points), Note 10 Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Quebec (12.8, 12.8 and 11.5 percentage points, respectively). Note 11 Youth from Nova Scotia registered the weakest growth among Eastern provinces (9.1 percentage points), but still outpaced their counterparts from all Western provinces (shown in Chart 4). Among 19-year-olds from Saskatchewan, the postsecondary enrolment rate remained stable during the period, while moderate growth was registered for youth from Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia (1.6, Note 12 3.6 and 5.9 percentage points, respectively). Overall, enrolment rates remained generally lower in the Western provinces, with the gap widening toward the end of the period, following the oil boom of the 2000s.

Chart 3 Postsecondary attendance rate, by parental province of residence and year, Eastern provinces

Data table for Chart 3
Data table for Chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 3. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario, calculated using rate (percent) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Newfoundland and Labrador Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia New Brunswick Quebec Ontario
rate (percent)
2001 45.10124 50.19634 51.28295 51.55783 56.87878 53.51630
2002 42.92969 51.45570 51.90398 52.33352 57.63164 55.89136
2003 45.37147 52.18228 54.73611 52.99108 59.65839 57.51274
2004 48.81577 53.22785 55.61528 55.32421 59.03735 60.61470
2005 49.35656 54.25889 57.06806 57.20094 59.93416 61.28298
2006 53.57361 57.57576 58.49335 59.24140 61.68904 63.12385
2007 54.34597 55.92417 57.33085 60.21557 62.41857 64.02499
2008 55.64631 57.88752 57.56216 59.76639 63.25801 65.08305
2009 57.69619 60.23700 56.83807 60.89430 64.49725 66.09276
2010 59.41558 59.39436 58.06695 61.58426 65.57658 67.34062
2011 59.78624 62.85910 58.50236 62.27865 66.41845 67.76375
2012 62.22168 62.21402 59.68951 61.87980 67.51654 68.01767
2013 61.75148 63.60182 59.78682 62.70039 67.62285 68.72351
2014 63.84498 63.03704 60.33898 64.39714 68.36600 69.61440

Chart 4 Postsecondary attendance rate, by parental province of residence and year, Western provinces

Data table for Chart 4
Data table for Chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 4. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, calculated using rate (percent) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta British Columbia
rate (percent)
2001 46.40957 48.81141 47.13992 51.71041
2002 46.16689 49.40582 47.00846 52.49363
2003 46.48871 48.32221 48.86903 52.49098
2004 46.67087 48.74090 47.88236 51.23991
2005 47.48567 49.23430 47.59606 52.13869
2006 48.31996 49.92444 47.92749 53.38892
2007 48.33738 50.41357 49.15966 54.06368
2008 47.86915 48.81229 50.14519 53.91942
2009 47.18198 48.47887 52.22715 56.04464
2010 47.77933 49.33661 52.95361 55.61053
2011 47.67777 49.28245 51.70618 55.46619
2012 48.48404 48.77260 51.65934 56.16338
2013 48.63074 47.15592 51.15375 56.63102
2014 48.05195 48.69842 50.76567 57.62082

Postsecondary enrolment rates in the bottom income quintile substantially outpaced rates in the top income quintile among 19-year-olds from four provinces between 2001 and 2014. Specifically, the Q1/Q5 ratio rose by 29.0% for youth from Ontario, by 20.5% for youth from New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, and by 9.4% for youth from British Columbia (Chart 5 and 6). In contrast, the Q1/Q5 ratio declined by 30.2% for youth from Saskatchewan over the same period (Chart 6). This decline was largely the result of the enrolment rate falling from 33.8% in 2001 to 22.0% in 2014 among 19-year-olds in the bottom income quintile (an 11.8-percentage-point decline). The enrolment rate declined by 5.0 percentage points in the top income quintile. Note 13Note 14

Chart 5 Relative postsecondary attendance rate of youth in the bottom income quintile compared with the top quintile, by province of parental residence and year, Eastern provinces

Data table for Chart 5
Data table for Chart 5
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 5. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario, calculated using relative rate (2001 = 100) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Newfoundland and Labrador Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia New Brunswick Quebec Ontario
relative rate (2001 = 100)
2001 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00
2002 86.1492099 88.7890006 93.0060451 98.3757040 101.2256510 102.1141265
2003 99.6138232 85.3653877 100.7940367 98.0931346 102.2667293 102.8760295
2004 104.4980723 89.5776241 100.0204202 106.4061070 101.8081412 104.7175583
2005 98.3549093 93.9510708 100.2837970 114.5725044 100.1492178 105.3815611
2006 107.8587461 110.2000404 95.0177889 108.4395353 102.4125802 109.0186574
2007 105.1820083 87.1333895 99.3969688 104.5204498 99.1808504 112.1889896
2008 101.0435892 85.4520803 102.1902852 106.4406039 96.9521455 113.6497947
2009 106.9403217 100.9672547 94.6184390 106.9584889 96.9590129 112.9902250
2010 112.1236820 98.5464997 101.0322416 109.4607518 98.1261414 116.7946027
2011 111.2893046 101.7479873 91.6647845 114.0593457 99.1957603 117.9174266
2012 116.4940879 100.1220410 96.5542758 114.3188632 100.5403496 123.4679634
2013 126.5045191 113.7531179 97.0099185 106.0021026 99.6945536 124.6058966
2014 120.4668668 91.9944591 102.6777896 120.4835823 101.4158181 128.9921915

Chart 6 Relative postsecondary attendance rate of youth in the bottom income quintile compared with the top quintile, by province of parental residence and year, Western provinces

Data table for Chart 6
Data table for Chart 6
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 6. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, calculated using relative rate (2001 = 100) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta British Columbia
relative rate (2001 = 100)
2001 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00
2002 98.82453896 108.70000649 102.41761975 99.12875318
2003 100.62744307 96.87964353 100.48435508 98.91980308
2004 87.43552503 100.80479337 101.13565455 99.32060659
2005 96.78434859 96.03915712 100.03644015 100.02600288
2006 83.90070247 93.02191079 98.49404459 101.70072058
2007 86.71331550 92.72519199 98.71419368 102.78638652
2008 84.55785657 84.21456981 101.92704923 101.83527191
2009 78.27141738 82.01167609 97.42152275 104.74938645
2010 86.89986670 81.31066312 102.20416452 101.81331103
2011 81.04340933 73.88129483 100.67447852 103.29579630
2012 90.75832239 71.17796121 101.05936263 103.31599724
2013 101.85147313 72.57265709 98.22682453 107.33904239
2014 97.42413408 69.82732546 95.71973287 109.39264637

Young women still outnumbering young men in postsecondary institutions

It has been well documented that educational attainment has increased faster among women than among men. This is largely the result of gains made by young women in the 1980s and 1990s (Frenette and Coulombe 2007).

Throughout the study period (2001 to 2014), young women were considerably more likely to attend postsecondary institutions than young men. In 2001, 61.1% of 19-year-old women attended postsecondary institutions, compared with 45.2% of 19-year-old men (Chart 7). The absolute and relative gender differences did not change much over the following 13 years, as enrolment rates reached 56.5% for young men and 71.7% for young women in 2014. The enrolment trends by parental province of residence and parental income were also similar for young men and young women, mirroring those shown in Charts 1 through 6. Note 15

Chart 7 Postsecondary attendance rate, by sex and year

Data table for Chart 7
Data table for Chart 7
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 7. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Men and Women, calculated using rate (percent) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Men Women
rate (percent)
2001 45.15217 61.09419
2002 46.46093 61.93784
2003 47.44119 63.96844
2004 48.24253 65.09205
2005 48.98754 65.70957
2006 50.66459 67.15198
2007 51.55416 67.81084
2008 52.40313 68.25798
2009 53.79728 69.40212
2010 54.68635 70.24144
2011 55.06036 70.40905
2012 55.71666 70.70546
2013 56.02791 70.91475
2014 56.53636 71.72495

Conclusion

The objective of this study was to document trends in postsecondary enrolment rates among 19-year-olds matched to their parents in the personal income tax files. Results by quintile of parental income, province of parental residence and sex were produced.

The study found that the percentage of 19-year-olds enrolled in a postsecondary education program increased steadily from 2001 to 2014 among youth from families across the income distribution, but particularly at the bottom of the income distribution. Postsecondary enrolment rates increased fastest among youth from Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario, as well as from other Eastern provinces. Among 19-year-olds from Ontario, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador, the largest gains occurred at the bottom of the income distribution.

Gains in enrolment rates were more moderate among 19-year-olds from Western provinces. Among those from Saskatchewan, no increases were registered, and this was largely because of a considerable decline in postsecondary enrolment among youth from the bottom of the income distribution.

Young women were more likely to be enrolled than young men throughout the period, with the gap remaining more or less constant over the 13-year span. The enrolment trends by parental province of residence and parental income were also similar for young men and young women.

Appendix: Data validation

The use of personal income tax data to measure postsecondary enrolment introduces at least four statistical issues. The first is that postsecondary students do not necessarily need to claim the tuition, education and textbook credits for themselves, nor do they need to make the claim during the year in which they were enrolled. This raises questions about the ability of tax data to accurately reflect trends in postsecondary enrolment. Second, about one-quarter of 19-year-old youth could not be matched to a parent. Consequently, no reliable measure of available economic resources could be assigned to these unmatched youth, since many may still depend on their parents for financial assistance. Indeed, student financial aid systems generally take the income of parents into consideration in determining available resources. Third, parental income and province of residence are measured when youth are 19 years old (to maximize the match rate between youth and parents). However, these may not correspond to the jurisdiction and the financial means of parents at the time when their child made the decision to attend a postsecondary institution or not. Fourth, only one year of parental income is used. Although this corresponds to the approach used in student financial aid systems to determine expected parental contributions, parents may draw on other financial resources to help pay for their children’s education. These four issues are addressed below in sequence.

The first issue is that postsecondary students need not claim the tax credits for themselves, nor do they need to make the claim during the year in which they were enrolled. Indeed, if students do not work (or do not work much), then the credits may not benefit them. Some may choose to transfer the credits to their parents during the year when they attended a postsecondary institution, or they may carry forward the credits until they have more taxes to pay. However, as described in the “Data and definitions” section, individuals who attend postsecondary institutions still have to complete a Schedule 11 form (Tuition, Education, and Textbook Amounts) if they wish to transfer the amounts to a designated individual or to determine the unused amounts available to be carried forward. Nevertheless, there is no strict obligation to claim the credits at all, and some students may completely avoid doing so either through lack of awareness or for some other reason.

To assess the extent to which this occurs, a version of the Postsecondary Student Information System (PSIS) linked to the T1 Family File (T1FF) database is used. The PSIS–T1FF file is an ongoing project that aims to link enrolment and graduation information from the PSIS, which is collected from postsecondary institutions by Statistics Canada, to tax data. At present, data from Atlantic Canada from 2005 to 2013 are available, with near-complete coverage in all years. Among 19-year-olds who attended a postsecondary institution in Atlantic Canada between 2005 and 2013, between 74.3% and 78.2% had filed their income taxes and claimed tuition, education and textbook credits in the personal income tax files (depending on the year). Some students may not have been eligible to claim these credits, such as those who took pre-postsecondary qualifying courses, non-program courses, or basic education and skills programs (not geared towards a particular occupation), or those who were registered neither full time nor part time (e.g., co-op students and apprentices). When these students were removed from the sample, between 79.1% and 81.8% claimed the credits.

While tax data do not identify about 20% of postsecondary students who are eligible to claim the credits, they are expected to capture some postsecondary students who are not in the PSIS. Data in the PSIS are collected on a specific day between September 30 and December 1. This “snapshot” date varies from institution to institution. Students who were not enrolled on the snapshot date but who were enrolled at another point during the tax (calendar) year could potentially be eligible for the tax credits. The tax credits are also available for private-school enrollees (the PSIS is limited to public institutions), Note 16 as well as for individuals who pay examination fees for professional certification.

Given all of the caveats noted above, neither data source is expected to capture all postsecondary enrolment. The important question is whether both generate similar trends in postsecondary enrolment rates. By dividing enrolment counts by population estimates (from CANSIM table 051-0001 [Statistics Canada n.d.d]), an enrolment rate can be generated. Note 17 For comparability between the T1FF and the PSIS, all 19-year-old youth Note 18 from Canada are included, not just youth who are matched to a parent (a concept relevant only in the T1FF).

In 2001, 45.7% of 19-year-old youth were enrolled in postsecondary programs according to the T1FF, compared with 38.1% in the PSIS (Chart A.1). Both data sources suggest considerable growth in the enrolment rate over the next 13 years, reaching 57.8% in the T1FF and 50.8% in the PSIS. This is a 12.1-percentage-point increase in the T1FF, compared with a 12.7-percentage-point increase in the PSIS. Thus, while the enrolment rates are somewhat higher in the T1FF (as expected given the annual nature of postsecondary enrolment in the tax data), the trend is similar to what administrative data from postsecondary institutions would suggest. Note 19

Chart A.1 Postsecondary attendance rate, by data source

Data table for Chart A.1
Data table for Chart A.1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart A.1. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), T1 Family File and Postsecondary Student Information System, calculated using rate (percent) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year T1 Family File Postsecondary Student Information System
rate (percent)
2001 45.69249 38.10515882
2002 47.62372 39.36048813
2003 48.58782 39.35930487
2004 49.51737 39.91393988
2005 49.92871 39.74102435
2006 51.37558 41.71269580
2007 52.33583 42.89440001
2008 52.93345 42.67155604
2009 54.37088 45.02890124
2010 55.40002 45.08847065
2011 55.87586 46.85514971
2012 56.63967 46.62566100
2013 56.97850 47.02178258
2014 57.78210 50.82580845

The second issue raised by the use of tax data to measure postsecondary enrolment relates to the fact that about one-quarter of 19-year-old youth could not be matched to a parent; thus, no reliable measure of available economic resources could be assigned to a non-negligible share of youth. Note 20 Chart A.2 displays the postsecondary enrolment rates for these unmatched youth across the 10 provinces over the study period. The rates ranged from 28.9% in 2001 to 42.8% in 2014. Although it is not possible to know the level of parental income for these youth, it is evident that their enrolment rates are consistently lower than those of youth in the bottom income quintile. However, the trend for unmatched youth is qualitatively similar to that for other youth.

Chart A.2 Postsecondary attendance rate, by parental income quintile and year

Data table for Chart A.2
Data table for Chart A.2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart A.2. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Unmatched youth, Bottom quintile, Second quintile, Third quintile, Fourth quintile and Top quintitle, calculated using rate (percent) units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Unmatched youth Bottom quintile Second quintile Third quintile Fourth quintile Top quintitle
rate (percent)
2001 28.89095 37.66566 49.13452 56.10394 63.05967 72.63722
2002 29.95233 38.13030 49.89748 57.19543 64.96728 73.57281
2003 31.03727 39.08150 51.16623 58.56393 66.03337 75.54261
2004 32.32079 39.78105 51.71974 59.12188 66.96564 76.09540
2005 32.69638 39.95511 51.94590 59.70283 67.08871 76.22376
2006 33.90395 41.44812 53.16116 61.02043 68.01556 76.58681
2007 34.86254 42.02820 53.24221 61.03652 68.50942 76.82474
2008 35.45696 42.12589 54.06462 61.67455 68.91783 76.91788
2009 36.85291 42.85064 54.68778 62.84678 70.00217 78.98919
2010 38.20293 43.93066 55.52710 63.91130 70.93113 79.42777
2011 39.20776 44.36692 56.07012 63.68044 71.25797 79.40762
2012 40.76193 45.43008 56.66460 64.23139 70.68532 78.79899
2013 41.39325 45.85927 57.39716 63.75054 70.65223 78.62015
2014 42.78260 47.05363 57.23712 64.85563 71.18516 78.69431

The third issue relates to the fact that parental income and province of residence are measured when youth are 19 years old. Ideally, some measure of parental financial resources and province of residence while youth are still in high school would be available, since this is likely when most youth decide to pursue a postsecondary education. However, parental match rates decline as youth are targeted at an earlier age. This is because the tax-filing rates of youth increase considerably throughout the teenage years. Although children can be identified as being present at age 17, for example, they cannot always be followed to a later period (such as age 19) in a reliable manner when a longitudinal version of tax data is used, especially if they were not tax filers at age 17 (i.e., they were imputed). An alternative strategy would be to follow parents who are matched to 19-year-old youth backwards in time. This would also involve additional sample loss because of family re-composition and non-filing among parents.

Are parental province of residence and an income measure when youth are aged 19 reasonable proxies for these variables at age 17? The concern is that parents may work longer hours or move closer to support their child as they attended postsecondary education.

To test this hypothesis, the final six-year panel of the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) (Statistics Canada n.d.b) was used; a sample of children aged 14 in 2005 was followed to 2010, when they were 19 years old. Parents were identified when the children were 14 years old and then subsequently followed until the children were 19 (regardless of whether they remained in the same family). This resulted in a panel dataset consisting of 1,669 person-years for the parental provincial mobility analysis and a panel dataset consisting of 2,013 person-years for the parental income analysis. Note 21The dependent variables in the first models consisted of a dummy (binary) variable indicating parental provincial mobility between the previous year and the current year, while in the second model, it consisted of the sum of after-tax income of the parents in the current year. The key independent variable was a dummy variable indicating postsecondary enrolment of the child during the year. The model included the following covariates, all measured when the child was 14: the highest level of parental education of either parent, the average number of years of full-time-equivalent work experience of the parents, and the province of residence of the family. In addition, the model included year dummy variables, as well as child-specific fixed effects. The model results showed that both parental provincial mobility and parental income were statistically invariant to the postsecondary attendance status of the child. In both cases, coefficient estimates were small and not statistically significant at the 70% level, which strongly suggests that parents do not respond to their children’s postsecondary attendance decision by moving provinces or changing their income levels.

The fourth issue is that using only one year of parental income may not accurately reflect the parents’ long-term financial means. However, Drolet (2005) found evidence that the relationship between parental income and university participation among a sample of 18- to 24-year-olds is very similar whether one, two or three years of parental income are used.

Data and definitions

Data sources

This study uses the T1 Family File (T1FF) from 2001 to 2014. The sample includes 19-year-olds matched with a parent who lives in one of the 10 provinces. Individuals from the territories are excluded, since no Consumer Price Index is available for these regions. The total sample of matched 19-year-olds across the 10 provinces ranges from 264,764 to 285,944, depending on the year. Overall, the T1FF accounts for approximately 95% of the population.

Methodology

Youth aged 19 who are matched to a parent in the personal income tax files are examined in this study. This includes tax-filing children who reported the same address as a parent, as well as non-filing children identified (imputed) from provincial birth files and historical tax files. The vast majority of 19-year-olds matched to a parent are tax filers. Overall, between 71.9% and 75.6% of 19-year-olds were matched to a parent, depending on the year. The remainder, who were not listed as children in the tax files, are analyzed separately, since there is no link between parent and child.

The age of 19 was selected because younger individuals may not all be eligible to attend postsecondary institutions (e.g., if they have not graduated from high school yet), while older individuals are less likely to be matched to a parent.

Parental income quintiles (sorted groups of 20% of the sample) are created for all provinces together, as well as for each individual province. In each case, fixed income thresholds from 2014 are used. Income is also expressed in 2014 constant dollars using the Canadian and provincial all-items Consumer Price Index (CANSIM table 326-0021 [Statistics Canada n.d.c]). The quintiles are based on all 19-year-olds in the sample. Similar results were obtained when the results were weighted by the number of individuals in the family.

A key indicator used in the study is the ratio of the postsecondary enrolment rate among individuals in the bottom income quintile to the rate among individuals in the top quintile. To better visualize trends, this ratio is set to 100 at the beginning of the period of analysis (2001).

Unless otherwise stated, all differences noted in the study are statistically significant at the 1% level.

Definitions

Postsecondary enrolment: Individuals are classified as having been enrolled in a postsecondary program if they claimed a positive amount of tuition, education or textbook credits in Schedule 11 of their personal income tax form (T1 General tax form). A positive amount for any of these credits signals attendance. Postsecondary students at qualifying institutions receive a T2202A form (Tuition, Education, and Textbook Amounts Certificate form) for the tuition amount and a T2202 form (Education and Textbook Amounts Certificate form) for the education and textbook amounts. Students may use this information to claim these amounts as non-refundable tax credits (i.e., the amounts can be used to reduce taxes owing but are non-refundable beyond the amount of taxes owing). If students cannot apply all of their credits towards their taxes in a given year, they may opt to transfer some or all of their credits to their spouse or common-law partner, or to a parent or grandparent, or to a parent or grandparent of their spouse or common-law partner. Alternatively, they may carry forward some or all of the credit amounts to a future tax year. In any of these cases, a Schedule 11 form must be filled out, which allows for the identification of students who are enrolled in a postsecondary program during the appropriate tax year. However, no distinction can be made between different forms of postsecondary schooling in the tax data.

Parental income: The total income of parents from all sources, less income taxes, expressed in equivalent dollars. This approach expresses parental income on a per-family-member basis and accounts for economies of scale associated with larger families. This is accomplished by dividing income by the square root of the number of family members.

Parental province of residence: The family’s province of residence, corresponding to the most recent address on file at the Canada Revenue Agency in the year following the tax year (e.g., 2015 for the 2014 tax year) at the time of the creation of the file. This is generally the address at the time when the tax form was completed (by April 30 for paid employees and by June 15 for self-employed individuals). In some instances, the most recent address may correspond to information in other files related to the income tax system (e.g., the Canada Child Tax Benefit, which collects the address in July or August, and investment slips). The T1FF database also includes late filers who provide their address later in the year. In specific situations, individuals who live away from their family might still be included in the family for tax purposes (e.g., university students may be matched with their parents based on information in the parents’ tax forms).

References

Corak, M., G. Lipps, and J. Zhao. 2003. Family Income and Participation in Post-secondary Education. Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series, no. 210. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11F0019M. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Drolet, M. 2005. Participation in Post-secondary Education in Canada: Has the Role of Parental Income and Education Changed over the 1990s? Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series, no. 243. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11F0019M. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Emery, H., A. Ferrer, and D. Green. 2011. Long Term Consequences of Natural Resource Booms for Human Capital Accumulation. Canadian Labour Market and Skills Researcher Network Working Paper no. 74. Vancouver: Canadian Labour Market and Skills Researcher Network.

Frenette, M. 2007. Why Are Youth from Lower-income Families Less Likely to Attend University? Evidence from Academic Abilities, Parental Influences, and Financial Constraints. Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series, no. 295. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11F0019M. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Frenette, M., and S. Coulombe. 2007. Has Higher Education Among Young Women Substantially Reduced the Gender Gap in Employment and Earnings? Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series, no. 301. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11F0019M. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Hango, D. 2011. “Length of time between high school graduation and enrolling in postsecondary education: Who delays and who does not?” Education Matters: Insights on Education, Learning and Training in Canada 8 (4). Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 81-004-X.

Li, C. 2006. Canada’s Private Colleges: The Lesser Known Players in Postsecondary Education. Analysis in Brief, no. 36. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11-621-M. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Morissette, R., P.C.W. Chan, and Y. Lu. 2014. Wages, Youth Employment, and School Enrollment: Recent Evidence from Increases in World Oil Prices. Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series, no. 353. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 11F0019M. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Neill, C. 2007. Canada’s Tuition and Education Tax Credits. Montréal: Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation.

Shaker, E., D. Macdonald, and N. Wodrich. 2013. Degrees of Uncertainty: Navigating the Changing Terrain of University Finance. Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Statistics Canada. n.d.a Postsecondary Student Information System. Last updated January 31, 2017. Available at: http://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p2SV.pl?Function=getSurvey&Id=252579 (accessed February 27, 2017).

Statistics Canada. n.d.b Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics. Last updated June 26, 2013. Available at: http://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p2SV.pl?Function=getSurvey&SDDS=3889 (accessed February 27, 2017).

Statistics Canada. n.d.c Table 326-0021 Consumer Price Index annual (2002-100) (table). CANSIM (Database). Last updated January 19, 2017. Available at: http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?lang=eng&retrLang=eng&id=3260021 (accessed February 27, 2017).

Statistics Canada. n.d.d Table 051-0001 Estimates of population, by age group and sex for July 1, Canada, provinces and territories annual (persons unless otherwise noted) (table). CANSIM (Database). Last updated September 27, 2016. Available at: http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?lang=eng&retrLang=eng&id=0510001 (accessed February 27, 2017).

Statistics Canada. n.d.e Table 477-0021 Weighted average tuition fees for full-time Canadian undergraduate students, by field of study, annual (dollars) (table). CANSIM (Database). Last updated September 6, 2016. Available at: http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?lang=eng&id=4770021&p2=17 (accessed February 27, 2017).

Notes

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