Quebec leads in reducing income inequality, lags in social mobility: study
Money is removed from a bank machine in Montreal, Monday, May 30, 2016.(Ryan Remiorz / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Quebec’s economic model is successful in reducing inequality but does little to help those in lower income brackets move up, according to a new study.
“Is Quebec Equal?” is a survey of social mobility in the province conducted by the Quebec Institute, a partnership between HEC Montreal and the Conference Board of Canada.
The study found that Quebec is among the provinces with the great income inequality before government redistribution. But Quebec is also among the most egalitarian due to policies like progressive taxation, tax credits and generous benefits,” said Jean-Guy Coté, the institute’s associate director.
However, Coté said the effects of those policies are mostly short-term, in that they don’t give citizens the tools to increase their income.
“The redistributive policies put in place in Quebec do not help the poorest households any more than in other Canadian provinces,” according to the report.
Economists advocate more “social investment” to help the poorest reach a higher income level. That would include policies such as investing in the public primary and secondary education system, programs to help them gain post-secondary education and better immigration programs for immigrants.
According to the study, those policies will be cheaper in the long-term.
Coté said the solution lies in policies that are not monolithic.
“There is a mix between redistribution and social investment,” he said. “We must find the balance between the two. Do we redistribute a lot so we invest less in social investment such as education? Or will we look for more social investment and less redistribution?”