Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Black Families and Socio-Economic Inequality in Canada

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Black Families and Socio-Economic Inequality in Canada

Article excerpt


There have been virtually no recent census-based studies on the familial characteristics of black Canadians. The present study is a partial replication and extension of a study on black families published two decades ago by Christensen and Weinfeld (1993) and based on the 1986 Canadian census. The present paper utilizes the 2006 census in order to examine the current conditions of black families in Canada and assess what has changed since 1986 in the composition, marital status, and income of these families. Findings indicate that black families are more culturally heterogeneous than ever. Despite this, racial disparities in family formation and household income have only accentuated since 1986, bearing unique consequences for native and foreign-born black men and women. On the whole, relatively more black Canadians 25-44 years of age were single and never married, divorced, or separated in 2006 than in 1986. Between 1986 and 2006, the disparities in income between black families with young children and the general population have grown larger, both for single and dual parent families. The consequences of higher family instability, lone-parent families, economic insecurity and poverty for black families can only be detrimental for the welfare of children, particularly in a context of racial inequality. These issues deserve to be further investigated.


Il n'existe aucune etude recente sur les caracteristiques des familles noires au Canada qui se base sur les donnees du recensement. En plus de presenter de nouvelles analyses sur les familles noires, cette etude reprend en partie celles effectuees il y a 20 ans par Christensen et Weinfeld (1993) a l'aide des donnees du recensement de 1986. Les objectifs sont, d'une part, d'examiner les circonstances des familles noires selon la composition du menage, le statut conjugal et le revenu familial par le biais du recensement de 2006 et, d'autre part, de comparer ces resultats avec les donnees de 1986. L'heterogeneite culturelle des familles noires va grandissante. Les resultats demontrent que les disparites raciales ont augmente au sein de la population noire depuis 1986 quant a la formation des familles et le revenu des menages, et imposent des consequences uniques pour les femmes et hommes noirs nes au Canada ou a l'exterieur. Entre 1986 et 2006, les disparites de revenu ont augmente entre les menages comprenant des enfants noirs et la population generale. Ces disparites sont presentes autant chez les familles monoparentales que biparentales. L'instabilite conjugale, vivre dans une famille monoparentale, l'insecurite economique et la pauvrete peuvent avoir des effets nefastes pour le bien-etre des enfants issus de familles de la minorite noire et ce, particulierement dans un contexte d'inegalites raciales. Ces questions meritent d'etre approfondies.


The present paper discusses findings from an exploratory and descriptive study on black families in Canada that seeks to explore the conditions of black families in 2006 and assess the degree to which circumstances have changed or improved for these families since 1986. The study is a partial replication and extension of a previous census-based study on black families in 1986, published by Christensen and Weinfeld (1993). To the best of our knowledge, the study has never been replicated. It is not yet certain how or if the voluntary nature of the new National Household Survey of 2011 will impact responses to questions on racial origin or income for disadvantaged groups. We thus have greater confidence in comparing the Canadian censuses for 1986 and 2006.

In the Canadian literature on racial and ethnic inequalities, much of the attention has been concentrated on measuring the earnings of individuals or households; relatively fewer studies have explored the implications of racial income inequalities for the welfare of families with children (Picot and Hou 2003; Worswick 1996). …

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