The Canadian Household Wealth Conversation Continues

The conversation about household wealth in Canada and the United States, which we entered earlier this week, has continued. Andrew Coyne of the National Post notes the strength of the Canadian dollar as an important part of the story; Josh Barro of Bloomberg View suggests that the most relevant difference on the household wealth front between Canada and the U.S. is that Canada’s housing bubble has yet to go bust. Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post addressed the median household wealth gap, observing that Canada has had an edge over the U.S. for some time.

Dylan and I had a brief exchange in which we discussed whether or not the greater prevalence on single mother families in the U.S. might have an impact on this gap. A recent study from the NYU Wagner School’s Women of Color Policy Network suggests that single mother families do indeed accumulate far fewer assets than single father families and two-parent families, for a variety of reasons. As you might expect, the report places a heavy emphasis on safety nets and work supports at the federal and state level, but prescriptions aside it does an excellent job of summarizing the challenges facing single mother families.

On a related note, Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia has written a short piece for Slate on the impact of family structure on the economic prospects of children that I recommend because it reflects my views. As you know, I often link to pieces that do not reflect my views, or that challenge my views in a stimulating way. But in those cases, I’ll devote at least some effort to analyzing and engaging with those perspectives. In the case of Wilcox’s work, I see no need to do that because, frankly, he is saying what I would say, only more cogently and intelligently. This is one of the many reasons I love the division of labor.

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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