Household Savings in Atlantic Canada

Household Savings in Atlantic Canada, 1981-2015 discusses a low rate of household savings by Maritimers. While New Brunswick has an improved savings rate from the previous decade (following a modest upturn throughout Canada), Prince Edward Island’s household savings have remained constant. Meanwhile, Nova Scotia’s have worsened, with an average annual savings deficit of over $1,000.

In the 1980s, the average Maritimer saved about $1,300 every year, or 14 percent of his or her disposable income. Today, Maritimers are in “dis-saving” territory: households from 2011 to 2015 spent $406 more, per year, than they saved, including pension contributions.

The research paper reports historical consumption, income and investment information, gleaned from Statistics Canada databases and provincial accounts. Beyond the often-cited ratio of consumer debt to income, this paper adds new metrics to the discussion of personal finances in the region.

The paper evaluates provincial savings trends in two ways:

  1. an “unadjusted” savings rate that compares disposable income with consumption, and
  2. a net savings rate that accounts for pension contributions.

The study finds that average personal savings rates dipped throughout Canada during the 2001-2010 period, but have modestly improved since 2011. This is consistent with economic recovery following the Great Recession. In the Maritimes, however, only New Brunswick has an improved rate from the previous decade. Prince Edward Island household savings have remained constant while Nova Scotia’s have actually worsened, with an average annual savings deficit of over $1,000.

“Doughart and Murrell’s paper confirms worries about personal finances in the region,” said Dr. Marco Navarro-Génie, President & CEO of AIMS. “Household Savings in Atlantic Canada suggests that many families experience persistent annual deficits – many doubtless financed by debt.

“Creating the economic conditions to improve these trends should be a priority of public policy,” added Navarro-Génie.

Click here to read the study.

The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies is an independent, non-profit research organization that offers a distinctive perspective on issues of public policy in Atlantic Canada. AIMS stimulates public discourse with well-considered argument and data. It is unique among regional think tanks in operating entirely free from government subsidy.

Read the study


Jackson Doughart
(AIMS Research Coordinator)


David Murrell

David Murrell, PhD
(Honourary Research Prof.,


Telegraph Journal, 25 May 2017

Telegraph Journal, 26 May 2017

Acadie Nouvelle, 29 May 2017

CBC PEI, 29 May 2017

Sheldon MacLeod Show, 1 June 2017