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Working women bearing more of the breadwinning burden, 2016 census shows

Working women bearing more of the breadwinning burden, 2016 census shows
From CBC - September 13, 2017

Men and women are each making comparable contributions to the family finances in nearly one-third of all couples, Statistics Canada said Wednesday as the latest data from the 2016 census revealed new details about howand whichCanadians are paying the bills.

Of the 8.2 million married or common-law couples in the country last year, 96 per cent of them saw both members earn at least some income in 2015, the most recent year for which data was available, the agency reported.

And in 32 per cent of cases, both incomes were "fairly equal," or each earning 40 to 60 per cent of the couple's total income a marked improvement over 1985, when only 20.6 per cent of couples were each making comparable salaries.

"Many factors have contributed to this advance, led by the increased labour force participation of women," Statistics Canada said in a brief on the new data. "Combined with a narrowing of the gender wage gap, women now contribute a larger portion of the couple's combined income."

Men, however, continue to earn an appreciably higher income in fully half of all opposite-sex couples, while women earned the larger share in just 17.3 per cent of casesa glaring difference, although significantly better than in 1985, when nearly three-quarters of the men made more, compared with just eight per cent of the women.

The gender gap persists in same-sex couples, too: male couples earned a median income of $100,707 in 2015, compared with $92,857 for female couples.

Mindthe gender wage gap

As she embarks on a career in law, a profession long dominated by men, Jennifer Chan said she expects to work longer than many of her male colleagues, citing student debt, the gender wage gap and potential family obligations, if she decides to have children.

Two years after graduating, much of Chan's Legal Aid salary goes towards paying down her student loans instead of building savings. She's proud to say she's knocked $30,000 off her outstanding balance "on a completely average salary."

Chan, 27, said she could have pursued a higher-paying corporate job, but at the expense of career satisfaction and work-life balance. Still, it's hard not to stress about money, she admitted.

"I work at Legal Aid; it's not like I am going to make millions of dollars here," she said, describing the double whammy of lower pay and heavier debt load that can hit new female graduates especially hard.

It will likely mean holding off on buying a home right awaythe Toronto housing market is likely out of her reach, she concededas well as putting on hold her plans to max out her RRSP and tax-free savings account.

"It's prolonging some of the other financial goals that I have ... but ultimately it was a choice that I made."

More women joining the workforce but still for less pay

Women in the workforce, especially in professions long dominated by men, will likely earn less over their career and work later in life to achieve a comparable level of pension and retirement savings, said Nora Spinks of the Ottawa-based Vanier Institute of the Family.

More stay-at-home dads

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