Where has the money gone? Canadian household debt in a stumbling economy (2009)

For many Canadians, the magnitude of the 2008 financial crisis served to mark a sharp contrast in their financial well-being “before” and “after” the economic meltdown. Our economic research provides insights on households’ use of financing in the midst of the most recent recession.

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Where Has the Money Gone: The State of Canadian Household Debt in a Stumbling Economy will help you understand households’ spending, saving, borrowing, and investing behaviours during the recent global financial crisis and recession.


  • household debt grew faster during the two years of financial and economic turbulence than during preceding years of strong economic growth
  • the expansion of household debt is not well supported by accumulation of assets and wealth
  • a decreasing number of Canadians save even though households do not feel confident in their financial situation in retirement
  • prospects of improving households’ financial security in the near future are low

Our economic research details these trends, reconciling the views of individual households with aggregated economic indicators. Strong household spending as well as a buildup of savings are essential for the growth of the Canadian economy.

Policy makers are encouraged to strengthen policy measures aimed at boosting households’ ability to acquire and act on their financial knowledge, and increase personal savings. Working towards enhancing labour market opportunities may likewise improve sustainability of households’ spending.