Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This study examines change in the economic welfare of families with preschool age children in Canada over the period 1971-1986. While the purpose of this study is to document change in the economic welfare of such families through alternative indicators of economic well-being, more broadly it seeks to examine interrelationships between family change and economic well-being. This study begins with a critical review of previous literature that focuses upon the link between family and economic change, prior to moving on to a general discussion of several of the practical and conceptual difficulties that surface in the definition of economic well-being and income poverty. The public use sample tapes of the 1971, 1981 and 1986 Canadian censuses are relied upon in a descriptive overview of recent changes (across subsamples of Canadians as defined by life cycle stage) prior to a more detailed focus upon families with preschool age children.;In examining the interrelationships between family change and economic well-being for families with preschool age children, a multivariate model of the income to needs ratio is relied upon (involving both family/demographic and non-demographic variables). Through a series of regressions, the relative importance of specific factors to change in the economic well-being of families are estimated. On the basis of the proposed model, simulation procedures are also introduced in estimating the relative importance of family/demographic change to trends as observed in income poverty.;Overall, the period 1971-1986 witnessed (1) a decline in the number of children per family, (2) an upward shift in the age distribution of fertility, (3) an increased involvement of women in the paid labour force, and (4) and increased incidence of lone parenthood. Irrespective of the detrimental impact of an increased proportion of all young families headed by a female lone parent, the overall impact of family/demographic change over the period of interest appears to be one which makes a positive contribution to the economic welfare of young families. Evidence suggestive of an increased level of income inequality is also presented, as might be expected given a continuing income gap between single parent and dual income families (both of which steadily increased as a proportion of all such families over the reference period).



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