Spring 2016 issue of the Expert Witness newsletter (volume 20, issue 1)

Contents: This issue contains two articles written by Dr. Christopher Bruce. The first reviews the debate over the use of cross versus sole dependency approaches in the determination of loss of dependency on income; while the second article concerns the reliability of income data drawn from the 2011 census. Cross versus Sole Dependency in Fatal […]


Are Data from the 2011 Census Reliable?

In this article, Dr. Bruce examines the reliability of the 2011 Census income data. In the past, completion of the long form census was mandatory. In 2011, however, completion of this form was voluntary and the response rate decreased. While this created statistical problems concerning the reliability of the data, Statistics Canada had anticipated these problems and took steps to mitigate them. In his article, Dr. Bruce discusses these problems, and the solutions implemented by Statistics Canada, concluding that the 2011 census remains a reliable, high quality data source. It will remain our primary source of earnings information until data from the 2016 census are released sometime in 2018.

With respect to the 2016 census, we would note that it will be mandatory. Further, Statistics Canada will be sending the long-form section to a greater number of households than in past censuses (one in four households instead of one in five households), and will use income data directly from the Canada Revenue Agency, providing data for 100 percent of households. It is anticipated that because of these changes, the income data from the 2016 census will be the most accurate of any census to date.


Cross versus Sole Dependency in Fatal Accident Actions

In this article, Dr. Bruce notes that a fundamental assumption in economics is that individuals are rational. Therefore, when an individual is observed to make a voluntary choice, it can be concluded that the individual must have expected that choice to make him/her better off (or at least, no worse off). With respect to fatal accident actions, this implies that if spouses are rational, they must have expected that the decisions they made about spending on one another would make them better off. He then shows that if this proposition is accepted, the sole dependency approach is preferred to cross dependency.