Where is the money now? Canadian household debt as economic recovery emerges (2010)

Deleveraging and shifting from consumption to savings may be expected of households in the aftermath of an economic recession. Our research provides insights on how households’ borrowing and savings habits adjusted to the new economic reality.

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Where is the Money Now: The State of Canadian Household Debt as Conditions for Economic Recovery Emerge will help you understand the extent to which the economic downturn might have worsened financial positions of Canadians. Deleveraging and a shift from consumption to savings may typically be expected of households in the immediate aftermath of an economic recession.


  • the recent recession has had only a subtle effect on the rate of growth of households debt; household balance sheet has continued to deteriorate
  • households substitute consumption from income with consumption from credit
  • revolving credit has become a prevailing part of consumer spending
  • regional variations in economic indicators related to household debt, wealth and income are substantial
  • households’ exposure to financial and economic shocks have not diminished

Our economic research details these trends. We also highlight recommendations on policies that may help influence the fundamentals of household borrowing behaviours, including:

  • empowering individuals with knowledge and tools to make right choices
  • achieving higher levels of income through improved productivity
  • improving availability of data used to construct indicators of household financial health to allow better informed policy decisions