Net Worth by Age in Canada 2021: How do You Stack up?

When debating net worths, a lot of different factors can be at play.

One’s financial history, income, assets, expenditures, and money management practices all make a difference. As you may already know, an individual or family’s net worth is the difference between their assets and debts. That is;

Total Assets – Total Liabilities = Net Worth

So, what is the net worth by age in Canada?

The average net worth in Canada has a positive correlation with one’s age. For those under the age of 35, the median net worth is $48,800 and for those 65 and older, it is $543,200.

Below, let’s go into the details.

Net Worth By Age In Canada

Net Worth By Age in Canada

According to Statistics Canada (StatCan), Canada’s national statistical office, Canada’s median net worth figures for different age groups are as listed below. The data was collected in 2019 and released in 2021 and continues to be the most recent and accurate statistics in Canada as of writing.

AgeMedian Net Worth
Under 35$48,800
35 to 44$234,400
45 to 54$521,100
55 to 64$690,000
65 and older$543,200

Note: all dollar amounts are in 2019 dollars.

As can be seen, the median net worth increases with age, with the most dramatic increases being from the under 35 to 35-44 category (jumping up by $185,600) and 35-44 category to 45 to 54 categories (up by $286,700).

This trend may be obvious, but many different factors can be at play here. Most people, as they advance in their various careers by gaining experience and expertise, will receive pay raises.

Their investments will also have more time to appreciate and gain interest over the course of their life, which can snowball with a combination of compound interest and contributions, growing their wealth at an exponential rate.

Something that is good to note is the meaning and purpose of median net worth, which is used by StatCan, rather than the average.

The median of a data set indicates the value lying at the very middle when all the numbers are sorted in an ascending or descending order. In such a case, there is an equal probability of landing above or below it.

In such data sets, the median is a more meaningful statistic than the average, mainly due to the fact that top earners of the population – the mega-rich multimillionaires – would skew the statistic dramatically, painting a better picture of an age group’s net worth than reality.

This is the reason that most net worth statistics list median figures, as opposed to average.

Interesting Net Worth Trends in Canada

Interesting Net Worth Trends in Canada

Now that we’ve seen the net worths in Canada by age, let’s consider some other angles to get a bigger and better picture.

Net Worth Trends by Region

In Canada, net worth is highest in Ontario and British Columbia, respectively. In 2019, Ontario families reported a median net worth of $434,500 and British Columbians of $423,700.

Not surprisingly, the weight in most provinces is pulled by larger census metropolitan areas, such as Vancouver, Toronto, and Quebec City. The wealthiest city in Canada is Vancouver, with a median net worth of $521,500.

Let’s look more closely at the median net worths in Canadian provinces and metropolitan cities in descending order. 

ProvinceMedian Net Worth
Ontario$434,500
British Columbia$423,700
Saskatchewan$330,500
Alberta$317,300
Manitoba$295,700
Nova Scotia$257,900
Newfoundland and Labrador$247,300
Quebec$237,800
Prince Edward Island$211,400
New Brunswick$185,000
Metropolitan AreaMedian Net Worth
Vancouver$521,500
Toronto$467,900
Quebec City$352,800
Ottawa–Gatineau$348,000
Calgary$336,100
Winnipeg$336,100
Edmonton​​$308,800
Montréal$220,200

Statistics Canada states that the geographical differences in net worth are often linked to strong housing markets in certain parts of the country, such as Vancouver.

Living and working in the financial industry in Vancouver for some time myself, I saw firsthand the effects of the soaring housing market in that city. Toronto, I believe, had similar trends.

For instance, StatsCan reports that the median value of principal residences in Vancouver rose from $366,000 in 1999 to $900,000 in 2019.

This is over double the median value reported in Montréal, which rose from $175,700 in 1999 to $350,000 in 2019.

The effects of this trend are highlighted in the table above with the stark differences in median net worths in the two metropolitan cities.

Net worth trends by demographics

Net worth trends by demographics

Now let’s take a look at some demographic-specific trends on net worth. I find these numbers to be quite interesting and eye-opening.

Seniors are more financially vulnerable in comparison to to the late 1990’s

Seniors

While their net worth remained high in 2019, seniors are less likely to be debt-free during retirement compared with two decades ago. Although 56.7% of senior-led families reported being debt-free in the latest study, this rate was down from 72.6% in 1999.

Moreover, over 1 in 10 senior-led families (12.1%) still had a mortgage on their principal residence in 2019. This is a huge increase compared with 6.6% in 1999.

Lone parent families have lower median net worth

Lone parent families

StatCan reports that lone-parent families reported a median net worth of $83,100 in 2019.  This was less than one-fifth of the median net worth of couples with children at $435,700.

Further, lone-parent families were less likely to own their own home, have pension assets or own a vehicle compared with couples with children.

Renters vs. homeowners

Renters vs. homeowners

Renters nearing retirement have lower net worth than homeowners. For instance, homeowners reported a higher median net worth ($685,400) compared with renters ($24,000).

What is the average net worth in Canada?

In 2019, the median net worth of Canadian families was $329,900.

However, despite growing steadily through the years, the growth in net worth was slower over the 2016 to 2019 period. It was up only by 1.8% in that time period. By contrast, from 2012 to 2016, net worth grew much faster. The rate was 3.5% per year during that time period.

As I mentioned above, net worth is the difference between a family’s assets and debts. The slowing down of the rate of net worth growth could therefore be attributed to two things:

  • an increase in the rate at which Canadian’s took on debt,
  • or a decrease in the rate at which Canadian’s accumulated assets

I find this to be very interesting. Looking at your finances over the past couple years, what can you say about the rates at which you accumulated assets or debt, and how would you say that it would compare to those in your age group, geographical area, or demographic? 

The Bottom Line

What is considered high net worth in Canada?

What is the average net worth in Canada?

In a practical sense, if your net worth is higher than the median net worth for your age group, you are considered to be faring better than more than 50% of those in your age group, and thus are considered to have a high net worth.

There is also, however, an official term and definition for those with a large number of liquid assets: a high-net-worth individual (HNWI). This formal term, usually used in the world of finance, is an easy way of referring to individuals who own liquid assets valued between $1 million and $5 million.

Very-high-net-worth individuals (VHNWIs), on the other hand, are considered to be people or households who have liquid assets valued between $5 million and $30 million, and ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) holding more than $30 million in liquid assets.

What if my net worth is less than the average?

It is true that most of us want more money. But if your current net worth is less than the median net worth for your age group, that is completely okay.

Don’t forget that the median highlights the middle point of a data set, meaning that 50% of individuals will fall below and 50% will fall above it.

A lot of factors can be at play in determining your net worth, and, at the end of the day, as long as you are comfortable enough to cover your basic needs, such as rent, food, and other necessities, more money does not equate to more happiness.

Nor does it determine your inherent worth. You can work to get there if you desire to, and as the statistics show, you are much more likely to have a higher net worth as you age than the other way around.

Either way, it is telling to look at the median numbers in Canada to gauge where you are at in your financial journey, without getting too hung up on the numbers.

And no matter where you are on the spectrum, feel free to check out these resources to make more money, save more money, or manage your money more effectively.

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Wealthawesome.com. Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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2 thoughts on “Net Worth by Age in Canada 2021: How do You Stack up?”

  1. It strikes me that net worth in Canada is hugely correlated with real estate. BC and Ontario lead the list since they have to most insane real estate bubbles and housing supply issues. Alberta and SK are richer on a per-capita basis, but our housing supply isn’t artificially constrained.

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