The Occupy Movement and the Top 1% in Canada



The Occupy movement catalyzed public debate on the issue of growing income inequality. This paper examines recent patterns of inequality in Canada, paying particular attention to changes in the characteristics of the top 1% of income earners. At the national level, the gap between the top percentile and the other 99% has widened considerably: in 2006, 11% of the nation's income was concentrated in the hands of top earners (whose mean income of $344,000 is 11 times that of the average Canadian) compared with 7.7% just 15 years earlier. Beneath such national-level figures lie important geographical differences in the income hierarchy: the thresholds, average incomes and socio-economic characteristics of the top 1% vary widely across provinces and cities. Among the most important spatial shifts observed is the growing concentration of high-income groups in energy-rich Western Canada, where Calgary has become the most unequal city in the country.