Social Well-Being Tracker
Our social well-being indicators are based on social determinants of health. These indicators are the economic and social conditions that shape the health of individuals and communities. Social determinants of health also determine the extent to which a person possesses the physical, social, and personal resources to identify and achieve personal aspirations, satisfy needs, and cope with the environment. Social determinants of health are about the quantity and quality of a variety of resources that a society makes available to its members. Important considerations include both the quality and their distribution amongst the population. 1
We have organized our social well-being indicators into seven main categories: A - Demographics, B - Income (B - Income, has been separated into four subcategories to handle the complexity and volume of data in this indicator) BA - Income and Income Gaps, BB - Poverty, BC - Cost of Living, BD - Government Transfers, C - Employment and Labour, D - Education and Literacy, E - Built Environment, F - Social Inclusion, G - Health and Health Services.
Poverty is a complex issue and an undesirable feature in any society. It is the result of multiple social systems failing to protect individuals and families from material deprivation. Some of the consequences of poverty include poor nutrition and physical health, social isolation, and limited financial stability. Poverty prevents our society from reaching its full potential.
The Costs of Poverty
In terms of daily reality, poverty represents an inability to maintain a standard of living that will ensure an individual or family’s overall health and well-being. The effects of poverty, however, are not limited to those who are poor. As shown repeatedly by research on the social determinants of health, poverty and social inequality decrease the overall health of a society. Poverty is also expensive—poverty costs Albertans $7.1 billion to $9.5 billion per year due to extra costs to health care and crime, and reduced economic opportunities (Poverty Costs, 2012).
Canada recently introduced Opportunity for All – Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy (Government of Canada, 2018). This strategy designates Canada’s official poverty line: the Market Basket Measure (MBM). The MBM uses the cost of goods and services that would allow a family to meet their basic needs and have a modest standard of living. Statistics Canada is undergoing a review of the MBM with a new 2018 base, the results of which will be released at the end of 2020. The MBM uses data from the Canadian Income survey, and is not reliable for municipal level data.
In the past, Tracking the Trends has used the Low-Income Measure After-Tax (LIM-AT) as its measure of poverty. In this edition, ESPC, in congruence with Statistics Canada, switched to the Census Family LIM-AT (CFLIM-AT).
The Census Family LIM-AT (CFLIM-AT) is used because this measure is more comparable to other data from Statistics Canada. It reports a higher overall prevalence of low-income as compared to other measures, mostly due to how it calculates median income in Canada.
Please note that all numbers have been re-calculated for the new measurement. Given that the CFLIM-AT reports a higher prevalence of poverty, all charts reporting poverty will show slightly higher statistics than they had in past Tracking the Trends editions.
How is Edmonton Changing?
Edmonton is relatively prosperous, yet the city and region still have significant levels of poverty.
Poverty rates are linked to economic cycles. As the economy improves, poverty rates decrease; as the economy declines, poverty rates increase. The economic downturn beginning in 2015 saw a modest increase in poverty rates, although by 2018 they had decreased slightly.
Poverty rates also vary considerably by family type. Lone-parent families have the highest poverty rate, couple families have the lowest, and single adults are in the middle. A typical person with a low-income does not live at the poverty line, but rather anywhere from 30% to 50% below it, depending on family type.
Poverty rates vary by age and gender. The younger a person is, the more likely they are to live in poverty. People who are older tend to have lower poverty rates, though the poverty rate among female seniors aged 65 years and older has been increasing.
Indicators (click below)
- BB6 Poverty Gap for Low-income Couple Families, by Family Size
- BB7 Poverty Gap for Low-income Lone-Parent Families, by Family Size
- BB8 Poverty Gap for Low-income Families Without Children, by Family Size
- BB9 Child Poverty Rate, 0 to 17 Years
- BB10 Children 0 to 17 Years as a Proportion of Total Persons in Poverty