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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

Income On- and Off-Reserve: How Aboriginals are Faring

Commentary by Helmar Drost, John Richards

Helmar Drost and John Richards argue that although Aboriginal concerns are receiving more attention in public policy debates, most public attention is devoted to on-reserve communities. They argue this is inadequate, because growing numbers of Canada’s Aboriginal population live off-reserve and in cities today. Drost and Richards note that the social, educational and employment problems facing both on- and off-reserve groups are daunting, and that both deserve the equal attention of policymakers.

This report makes use of the 1996 Census to closely examine the incomes of Aboriginal Peoples living on- and off-reserve. As a benchmark, the authors compare these income levels to the income levels of non-Aboriginal Canadians. According to the Census data, 71 percent of those who identified as Aboriginal lived off-reserve, with one-half of those living in urban areas. The Census data revealed that Aboriginal Peoples living off-reserve are faring better than those living on-reserve.

In terms of education, Drost and Richards find that one-half of all Aboriginal Canadians have a high school diploma; of those living on-reserve, however, only one-third do. Education is critical to income; the Census data reveal that as Aboriginal education levels rise, incomes rise, and the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal earnings shrinks. The authors also find that Aboriginal Canadians with university degrees have a median income that is over 80 percent that of non-Aboriginal university graduates.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Helmar Drost; John Richards;
Publisher: C.D. Howe Institute [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2003; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: National;
Registration Required: No Language: English French
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Aboriginal / Education
Policy Articles / Aboriginal / Poverty
Policy Articles / Aboriginal / Economic Development
Policy Articles / Aboriginal / Economic Development / 2003
Policy Articles / Aboriginal / Education / 2003
Policy Articles / Aboriginal / Poverty / 2003
Policy Articles / Aboriginal


Keywords / Tags:

on-reserve communities; off-reserve communities; aboriginal income; education levels; university degrees;