Canadians richer than Americans: report

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Traditionally — it's believed — Canadians have an inferiority complex when it comes to our neighbours to the south.

After all, they have a population 10 times ours and they're world superpowers when it comes to economics, military, sports and entertainment.

Well, feel inferior no more Canada: there's one way we're better than the Yanks.

For the first time in recent history the average Canadian is richer than the average American.

According to data from Environics Analytics WealthScapes published in The Globe and Mail, the net worth of the average Canadian household in 2011 was $363,202, while the average American household's net worth was $319,970.

And, as the Globe article notes, these are not 60-cent dollars, but Canadian dollar is more or less at par with the U.S. greenback. Furthermore, these figures ignore public-sector (government) debt that presumably people on both sides of the border or their children will some day have to pay. Such debt is higher in the U.S. as a percentage of GDP than it is in Canada.

Canada now also trumps the U.S. when it comes to employment levels: Our unemployment rate is now  7.2 percent, compared to America's 8.2 percent

[ Related: Americans moving to Canada in record numbers ]

Certainly a depressed housing market, high debt levels and a sputtering economy have all hurt Americans' pocketbooks.

An article in Bloomberg Magazine suggests the diverging economies are a result of "our hardheaded" socialism.

"Since the 1990s, Canada has pursued a hardheaded (even ruthless), fiscally conservative form of socialism," notes the article.

"Its originator was Paul Martin, who was finance minister for most of the '90s, and served a stint as prime minister from 2003 to 2006. Alone among finance ministers in the Group of Eight nations, he "resisted the siren call of deregulation," in his words, and insisted that the banks tighten their loan-loss and reserve requirements.

"The stability of Canadian banks and the concomitant stability in the housing market provide the clearest explanation for why Canadians are richer than Americans today."

The finance-heavy magazine also suggests luck played a major part in our success citing the "tar sands," softwood lumber, potash and other natural resources at our disposal.

Whatever the reason, Canadians should enjoy this.

We should pound our chests and walk with a swagger — at least until the Americans start dominating us at the Olympics next week.