Budget 2015 came with few surprises and so the post-release conversation amongst economists closely resembles our pre-budget conversation. But a few comments by Miles Corak on twitter (@MilesCorak) about the example families presented alongside the budget, and the extent to which they benefit from recent initiatives, struck me as interesting. In particular, he pointed to the example family of four – Henry and Cathy, as a couple with two children, earning $84,000 and $36,000 respectively. Miles points out, however, that their earnings are about $40,000 more than the median two-earner family in Canada, and about 85% of Canadian families make less than this ”œexample” family.

So Henry and Cathy, and the other examples presented alongside the budget, are not typical among families in the Canadian population. But I doubt the political parties are all that concerned about it. They are concerned with who is typical among their voter base, and more importantly their potential voters.

I’m sure each of the parties in play have someone figuring out exactly what their voters look like and I was curious. So I started some number crunching to start getting a sense of how different their voters are. (I’ll note that I quickly cut myself off, because this is not what I do.)

I grabbed a sample of individuals who reported voting and which party they voted for in the 2011 election from the Canadian Election Survey. There’s a ton of information in that survey, but I looked at household income groups first. The results:


I think it’s fairly easy to see the target voters and our « typical » families here,  but I’ll leave that discussion to our political scientists.

I’ll also point everyone to Jennifer Robson’s excellent discussion of what this budget means for low and middle income families v. Henry and Cathy in her post at Maclean’s.


Tammy Schirle
Tammy Schirle is an associate professor of economics at Wilfrid Laurier University. She completed her PhD at the University of British Columbia in 2006. She is currently Director of the Laurier Centre for Economic Research and Policy Analysis, chairs the Waterloo Region Collaborative Economic Research Group, and is a member of the C.D. Howe Institute Pension Policy Council. As a labour economist and applied econometrician with interests in Canadian public policy, her research has focussed on seniors' work and retirement, women's labour supply, and organization of the family. Twitter @tammyschirle

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