BC Basic Income Panel

Research Papers


A Note on Single Adult Poverty in British Columbia

David Green (University of British Columbia)

Petit and Tedds (2020) show that single adults without children have notably higher and persistent poverty rates in B.C. than any other demographic group studied. This short note picks up on this finding and investigates the single adult without children group further to try to understand who they are and their sources of income. Using Census data, I find that there are three main groups of single adults living below the poverty line. First are those with earnings over $16,000 who are mainly young females that have completed high school, who tend to work much of the year and who live in the Lower Mainland and Victoria. Second are those who with mostly transfer income who are mostly older males who have not completed high school, who tend not to work and who do not live in the Lower Mainland or Victoria. Third are those who work up to half the year, but otherwise are very heterogenous except they tend to have more social insurance (employment insurance and pension) income and who may be aided by social insurance reform.

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Defining and Describing Energy Poverty in British Columbia: The Distribution of Households’ Energy Expenditure

Blake Shaffer & Jennifer Winter (University of Calgary)

Increasingly stringent environmental policy, such as the current CleanBC plan, has the potential to reduce households’ ability to afford energy services. While Canada has an official poverty line, there is no official measure of energy poverty, which is a correlate of income-related poverty. We examine household energy poverty—the inability of households to afford energy services or maintain adequate living conditions—in British Columbia with several indicators from academic literature using 2017 Survey of Household Spending public-use microdata. The indicators provide different quantitative definitions of energy poverty, and we compare and contrast results across indicators to identify household characteristics common across indicators. Given the significant differences in the results of these energy poverty indicators, we propose a minimum bound for energy poverty in B.C. is the share of households that are identified by multiple indicators. Together, these indicators and aggregate definitions suggest energy poverty in B.C. is most commonly found in households that are low income (particularly those in the lowest income quintile); mostly singles and lone parents; live in single detached, older homes, with a mortgage; and seniors. We conclude with a discussion of existing policy supports to alleviate energy poverty, and discuss the potential distributional consequences of the CleanBC plan.

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Homelessness and Poverty in British Columbia

Ron Kneebone (University of Calgary)

A minimum goal of a basic income is to ensure all Canadians can maintain housing and in so doing avoid homelessness. This paper examines the causes of homelessness to gain insight into whether a basic income can reduce it and, if so, to what extent. Poverty is the main driver of homelessness, as a result, a basic income may also have a positive effect on the homeless rate by better enabling people to avoid the other circumstances that contribute to homelessness, particularly addiction and mental health issues.

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Poverty in British Columbia: Income Thresholds, Trends, Rates, and Depths of Poverty

Gillian Petit & Lindsay M. Tedds (University of Calgary)

We present and assess extensive statistics regarding poverty rates and depths for Vancouver, B.C., and Canada. We show that not only are single adults in B.C. the most likely to experience poverty, but they also experience the deepest level of poverty. Both single adults and single parents who are younger (i.e., ages 18–24) are more likely to be in poverty and are deeper in poverty than single older persons (i.e., 65+) or those who live as couples. These poverty rates and depths of poverty remain high for single adults and single parents as they get older (i.e., ages 26–65), at which point the depth of poverty decreases. Lastly, poverty tends to be experienced at higher levels by women than by men when conditioning on family type. For these reasons, B.C. government will have to consider these groups in reforms focused on addressing poverty reduction targets.

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