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.

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The Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on the Educational Attainment and Adult Earnings of Canadian Women

This article concerns sexual abuse cases and the difficult task of determining the impact that the harm has had on the plaintiff’s earning capacity. Christopher Bruce and his colleague from the University of Calgary, Daniel Gordon, found that, on average, sexual abuse is not associated with lower educational levels or lower adult incomes among victims.

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Using the HALS/PALS data sets to estimate a loss of income

In the article Derek Aldridge discusses the potential usefulness of Statistics Canada’s HALS/PALS disability statistics when attempting to estimate a person’s loss of income. His opinion is that while one can use these data sets to predict a loss of income, in most cases these predictions are not helpful for our purposes.

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Death and Retirement: Allowing for Uncertainty

In this article Christopher Bruce explains how experts deal with situations in which there is uncertainty about the plaintiff’s future income path – such as when it is not known whether the plaintiff will recover from his or her injuries. He also comments on an error that experts often make when dealing with such uncertainty.

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Estimating the Impact of Mid-Career Retraining

In this article we investigate an issue we have not seen raised anywhere else in the literature on personal injury damages: When an individual is injured in their 30s or early 40s, and has to retrain for a new career, will that individual begin in that career at a salary equivalent to those of individuals with the same age as the plaintiff? Or will the plaintiff’s starting salary be more similar to those of younger individuals in the new career – perhaps 25-29 year-olds? The authors present information from a recent study that investigated this question; and comment on the use of this study for personal injury cases.

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Using family background to Predict Educational Attainment in Canada

When a minor has suffered a serious injury, it is necessary to predict what the income level of the plaintiff would have been in the absence of that injury. In most cases, this is done by projecting an education level for the plaintiff and using census statistics to project the average income for that education level. This article examines some of the factors that can be used to predict a child’s eventual educational attainment.

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Forecasting the Rate of Growth of Real Wages (Productivity)

Christopher Bruce summarises the most recent theoretical and empirical evidence concerning one of the most controversial, and poorly-understood, components of the calculation of future earnings – the so-called “productivity factor.” He notes that, although the observed rate of increase in earnings is tied to the rate of increase in labour productivity over the very long run, in shorter periods the two rates may differ if there is a significant increase or decrease in the supply of labour. Specifically, he reports that most economists now believe that the slow down in “real” wage growth (the rate of growth in excess of the rate of inflation) in the 1980s and 1990s occurred because of the increase in labour supply that came with the influx of “baby boomers.” That the baby boom is now working its way through the system implies, therefore, that the rate of growth of real wages will increase significantly in the next two decades.

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Predicting post-secondary education attainment

In this article Mohamed Amery discusses cases involving plaintiffs who are minors, in which it is necessary to predict the level of education that these individuals would have obtained had they not been injured. Mr. Amery’s article provides information concerning indicators that can be used to make this prediction – including the education of the plaintiff’s parents; the level of the plaintiff’s employment while in high school; and whether the plaintiff ever failed a grade.

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The Connection between Labour Productivity and Wages

In this article Christopher Bruce examines the theory and evidence behind the assertion that wage growth among workers in a specific industry can be linked to the productivity growth of those workers. He finds that there are sound theoretical reasons for predicting that there will be very little correlation between an industry’s productivity growth and its wage growth. He also finds that the empirical evidence supports this prediction.

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Combining Occupational Options

In this article, Christopher Bruce notes that it is often not clear at the time of trial what occupation the plaintiff would have entered had he or she not been injured, or what occupation he/she will now enter. In these cases, it is common for the vocational expert to offer a menu of possible occupations that are consistent with the plaintiff’s observed interests and aptitudes. In his article, Dr. Bruce looks at how one could combine these occupations (and the corresponding incomes) in order to determine an average, expected income for the plaintiff.

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Rates of Return to Advanced Education in Alberta

This article, by Kelly Rathje, is based on the thesis she wrote for her M.A. in economics from the University of Calgary. Her thesis concerns the costs and benefits of post-secondary education. In particular, she views education as an “investment” in oneself. The costs of that investment are tuition, books, and foregone income. The benefits are measured in terms of increased income. On this basis, she can compare the relative “rates of return on investment” for various types and levels of education.

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The MacCabe Judgment: Allowing the Use of Earnings Statistics for Males When Estimating the Future Income of a Female

In this article, Derek Aldridge explains how the MacCabe judgment is important from the economist’s view. What does the judgment imply about future cases involving injured or deceased females? There are many questions unanswered.

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Using Industry Growth Rates to Update Census Occupational Earnings Figures

In this article Kris Aksomitis discusses the method used to adjust average income figures derived from the Census from past dollars to today’s dollars. He compares average incomes taken from the 1996 Census with adjusted figures from the 1991 Census to illustrate the accuracy of these adjustments.

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The Effect of Alcoholism on Earning Capacity

In this article Nicole MacPherson investigates the effect of alcoholism on earning capacity. She has found that alcoholism has both direct and indirect effects on earnings. Ms. MacPherson brings to our attention both the obvious and overlooked effects of alcoholism.

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The Children of Immigrants – How Do They Fare?

In this article, Therese Brown notes various factors which may enhance or impede the socio-economic progress of the children of immigrants. Considerable evidence suggests that the positive effects associated with foreign parentage overwhelm all other factors. For that reason, the children of immigrants tend to exhibit higher potential earnings than do their counterparts with native-born parents.

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Issues in Loss of Income Calculations for Self-Employed Individuals

In this article, Scott Beesley outlines various factors which complicate the assessment of the loss of income for self-employed individuals. After clearly laying out the potential pitfalls in these cases, he reviews a number of approaches which might be employed to maximise the accuracy of these estimates.

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Predicting the Adult Earning Capacity of Minors

In this article Faizal Sharma sheds light upon the complex issue of predicting the potential income stream of a minor who has been injured. He explains that recent studies show a stronger correlation between parents’ income and that of their children than had previously been expected. The child’s level of education is positively correlated with the parent’s education and is negatively affected by being part of a non-traditional family.

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The “Lost Years” Deduction

In this article Christopher Bruce deals with the current issue of appropriate compensation for the “lost years” of a plaintiff with reduced life expectancy. One of the approaches discussed includes the view that the plaintiff should be compensated for the lost earnings which remain after the cost of necessities is deducted. Further clarification is required on this issue to establish an estimated cost for “necessities.”

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