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Perspectives on Labour and Income - September 2007

Spending patterns in Canada and the U.S.

Raj K. Chawla

  • In the last two decades, overall consumer spending patterns have not changed significantly in either Canada or the United States. These patterns were closer for core labour force age households than for retirees.
  • Among older households, proportionately more live in owned houses and drove owned vehicles in the United States than in Canada.
  • Both Canadian and American households allocate one-third of their spending dollar to housing and one-fifth to transportation.
  • Canadians spend more than Americans on public transportation; in both countries, those 75 and over generally spend the most.
  • Between the early 1980s and 2003, household spending on health increased slightly more in Canada, but it still remained much lower than in the United States.

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Raj K. Chawla is with the Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. He can be reached at 613-951-6901 or

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