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Households on the verge of retirement are accounting for an increasing share of household wealth, according to data from Statistics Canada.

New research from StatsCan finds that households headed by older earners (aged 55 to 64) had average wealth of $1.2 million in 2018, which represented 31.2% of overall wealth, up from 27.1% in 2010.

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The report says the rising share of wealth for older households is due to both the aging population and increases in the value of real estate and other non-financial assets.

At the same time, StatsCan reports that older households are also taking on debt later in life; particularly in the 45-to-54 age group. “In general, older income earners have a greater capacity to access credit relative to other households, and are consequently in a favourable position to manage debt,” it says.

In the same report, StatsCan also finds a vast disparity in net savings (defined as disposable income minus consumption, plus the value of pension entitlements) between high-income and low-income households.

In 2018, average net savings for all Canadian households was just $852, it says. Yet this overall average masks a wide gulf between the top 20% of income earners, which had $41,393 in net savings per household, and the bottom 20% of earners, who had net dissaving of $27,935 on average, as they consumed more than their annual income.

StatsCan notes that some of the bottom 20% is composed of retirees who are drawing down their assets to fuel consumption. It reports that, overall, households headed by an earner aged 65 or older had average net dissaving of $17,129.

The report also indicates that the top 20% of earners had average net worth of $1.8 million per household in 2018, compared with about $200,000 for the bottom 20%. The top 20% accounted for almost half of household wealth in 2018 (48.7%), which has remained relatively stable over time.