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Generational Dimensions of Neoliberal and Post-Fordist Restructuring: The Changing Characteristics of Young Adults and Growing Income Inequality in Montreal and Vancouver


  • The contents of this article originate from the author's doctoral thesis completed in the Department of Geography, University of British Columbia. Related content from the thesis has also been published in other articles. The author thanks the anonymous IJURR reviewers, and David Ley, Elvin Wyly, Dan Hiebert, Tom Hutton, Jamie Peck, Carrie Yodanis, Pierre Filion and Pablo Mendez for their insights and helpful comments on this research, as well as Michael Seasons for assistance with manuscript formatting. The financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, IODE Canada, the University of British Columbia and the J. Lewis Robinson memorial scholarship are gratefully acknowledged. Any errors, conclusions or interpretations are those of the author.


There is growing concern over income inequality and its generational dimensions. Post-Fordist and neoliberal restructuring have reshaped urban labour markets, resulting in growing inequalities that disproportionately afflict younger workers. This article empirically analyses the transition as experienced in Montreal and Vancouver, two Canadian cities that have undergone restructuring in different ways. The study of young adults' changing incomes reveals growing intra- and inter-cohort inequality, and an increasing intergenerational income gap in both cities. Income inequality is greater in Vancouver, with its more pronounced post-Fordist labour force composition and neoliberalized governance context. Known factors such as occupation and gender affect the earnings structure, but educational attainment has increased the most in terms of its effect on incomes. Inequalities among young adults are expected to magnify in the future due to unevenness in educational attainment. Urban research ought to pay close attention to the role of education in structuring inequalities, and the ways the impact of restructuring is unevenly distributed across generations.