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Where you were born could impact your economic success: study

Calgary skyline. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Larry MacDougal

If you were born in Alberta, Saskatchewan and southwestern Ontario, you have a better chance of breaking out of poverty, according to a new study.

The study by the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Global Working Group found these areas were associated with lower poverty and less inequality.

The study’s author, University of Ottawa economics professor Miles Corak, said that in Alberta, people who were born wealthy were also the most likely to retain that wealth.

A map of Canada illustrates the impact your geographical location has on intergenerational economic mobility.
A map of Canada illustrates the impact your geographical location has on intergenerational economic mobility. Courtesy of the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group

Researchers used data from Statistics Canada to analyze a group of Canadians who were born in the 1960’s and were full-time members of the Canadian workforce in 2008.

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Corak said Toronto was a “pole of growth” during that time frame, and at the same time a strong labour market and significant wage increases in Alberta could have led more people to economic success.

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“That’s part of the story but it’s not the whole story,” Corak told News Talk 770’s Angela Kokott.

Corak cautioned that Alberta was in the midst of an oil price boom at the time the data was analyzed, admitting researchers could see different results among younger generations, both in Alberta and across the country.

LISTEN: People in Alberta, Saskatchewan and southwestern Ontario are less likely to remain poor

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“You sort of wonder about the next generation, the people born in the 80s or 90s, who are coming of age in a more challenging labour market,” he said.

“One wonders is this movie going to play out the same way for the next generation. There’s a very good reason to believe it’s going to be a very different picture.”

Corak said much of Manitoba and other northern parts of the country stuck out during the study as having strong “intergenerational poverty.”

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