Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Homicides in Canada stay the course

610 murders were recorded in Canada in 2009. For a population of 34 million, this is equal to 1.8 homicides per 100,000, making Canada one of the safest places on the planet.

For perspective, consider Pakistan where violent deaths are now approaching 10 per 100,000 people.

The decline in murder rate in Canada has been consistent since 1973.

A breakdown by cities is given here.

Census metropolitan area number rate
Winnipeg 32 4.15
Vancouver 61 2.62
Edmonton 30 2.58
Calgary 24 1.95
Toronto 90 1.61
Hamilton 9 1.26
Montréal 44 1.15
Ottawa² 10 1.08
Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo 4 0.77
Québec 2 0.27
Abbotsford-Mission 9 5.22
Thunder Bay 6 5.01
Saguenay 5 3.44
Halifax 12 3.01
Kingston 4 2.52
Greater Sudbury 4 2.43
Saskatoon 6 2.26
Trois-Rivières 3 2.02
Regina 4 1.88
Kelowna 3 1.68
Windsor 5 1.51
Moncton 2 1.49
Brantford 2 1.44
St. Catharines–Niagara 5 1.13
Victoria 3 0.85
Peterborough 1 0.82
Guelph 1 0.81
Oshawa 3 0.75
Gatineau³ 2 0.66
London 3 0.61
Sherbrooke 1 0.54
Barrie 1 0.51
St. John's 0 0
Saint John 0 0

Further details are available at:


Monday, October 25, 2010

Statisticians of the world, unite!


Google data show Rob Ford to be leading Smitherman

This has been one of the most spirited mayoral races in the past two decades in Toronto. Rob Ford, a suburbanite who wants to cut wasteful spending at the City Hall is pitted against George Smitherman, a former provincial health minister, who has not done enough to distinguish himself from the left-leaning incumbent mayor of Toronto, David Miller, or from Joe Pantalone, who is running a similar left-leaning campaign.

To suburban voters, who are 70% of the population, Rob Ford seems to be the guy who has promised to get rid of the real estate transaction taxes and other taxes imposed on motorists. Smitherman has presented a well thought-out financial plan, which unfortunately lacks any attention grabbing attribute.

It appears that the central city voters, representing 25% of the population, are likely to vote for Smitherman. Younger voters (who can, but seldom vote), the  intellectual elite in Toronto as well as those who are pro-environment and pro-public transit may vote for Smitherman.

Rob Ford is likely to be favoured by those who’ve been incensed by the land transfer tax (i.e., wealthy home owners) and by the City’s anti-car policies of the last 10 years, which  have made commuting difficult without offering any efficient public transit alternatives. Furthermore, Asian immigrants and religiously conservative voters are also likely to vote for Rob Ford.

Joe Pantalone, the third most popular candidate, is also competing on the platform to continue with the outgoing mayor’s policies of more rail transit, bicycle lanes and the like. He is likely to be the spoiler for Smitherman by splitting votes on the left.

I see Rob Ford being the leading candidate not just because the current demographics in the 2.5-million strong Toronto favour him more than Smitherman, or that Joe Pentalone is likely to split the vote on the left and essentially play the same role that Ralph Nader played in the fateful election in which Al Gore lost to George W. Bush. I also see Rob Ford ahead in the cyber world, leading me to conclude that he may very well be the next mayor of Toronto.

Based on the internet searches conducted on Google in Ontario, especially in Toronto, I see Rob Ford leading Smitherman as of June 2010.  The blue line in the graph below represents Rob Ford, red line represents George Smitherman, and the orange line represents Joe Pantalone in the Internet popularity over time on a scale of 0 (less popular) to 100 (more popular). While one may have hoped to see Smitherman’s campaign (being more tech-savvy) to generate more interest on the Web, the Google data however are showing Rob Ford in a significant lead that has widened over time.

If the Internet-based interest in the candidates be taken as a proxy for voter preference, Rob Ford could be seen leading Smitherman by a huge margin, which is likely to be much more than what the opinion polls have revealed in the past week.

If Ford ends up leading Smitherman by a margin much greater than what has been revealed by the opinion polls, Google data may emerge as a predictive tool for political outcomes. If Smitherman wins tonight, one would conclude not to read too much into Internet searches.

The network traffic to the websites of the three leading candidates was not available from Google.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Retail therapy: Furniture sales are up in the US

There are increasing sings that the economy is crawling out of the recession. The latest from the US: furniture sales are up.

Retail sales in general are also showing signs of recovery.

Let the retail therapy heal the ailing  consumer markets:

From Haver.com:

What every homeowner needs is something to sit on. But a poor job market can put off the day of purchasing that new item. During 2009 furniture sales, as reported by the U.S. Commerce Dept., fell 11% following declines during the prior two years. The decline was emphasized by a drop in the Furniture Buying Index published by America's Research Group. Their index fell 4% in 2009 following a much greater 2008 collapse.

But after a while frayed fabric, worn out springs and old styles warrant replacement. And recent data indicate that a moderate turnaround has begun. Versus last year, the Furniture Buying Index has improved by nearly one-quarter while retail sales showed a lesser increase. However, in both cases the rebounds recently have lost forward momentum due to a poor job market. Payroll employment is up all of 0.3% y/y and the total unemployment rate, including those involuntarily employed part-time, is 17%. Recent indications of uninspired consumer sentiment suggest that sequential improvement in furniture sales is not likely to begin soon. When it does pick up, it will likely accompany improvement in the job market.

The Furniture Buying Index is compiled each month by America's Research Group from interviews with 5,000-8,000 consumers across the country. In a typical month, 80 percent of the consumers interviewed can name a specific furniture item they intend to buy. The Index's mark signifies what percent of the benchmark 80% actually have a particular item in mind. The data can be found in Haver's SURVEYS database. The retail sales data are in USECON.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Canada's statistics-gathering: A senseless census reform | The Economist

Even the Economist weighs in on Canada's Census:

A senseless census reform

Oct 20th 2010, 18:07 by M.D. | OTTAWA

TODAY is World Statistics Day—an event you’ve probably never heard of, but which has special resonance in Canada, where one of the hottest political debates of recent months has involved number-crunching. The question of whether responses to the long form of the census, sent to a representative group every five years, should be voluntary or remain mandatory may seem rather technical. But it has pitted the country’s two largest provinces, Ontario and Quebec, against the minority Conservative government of Stephen Harper; led the country’s chief statistician to resign in protest; and cast a spotlight on the broad array of people who depend on the census and care how it is conducted.

The clamour over the census began in June, when the government slipped into a list of cabinet decisions the news that recipients of the long-form census questionnaire would no longer be required to complete it. The government undertook no prior consultation before making the change and never formally announced it.

Mr Harper may have chosen to downplay the new policy simply because he didn’t expect it to ruffle many feathers. Denmark scrapped its census in 1970, Germany did so in 1987 and Britain will complete its final tally next year. And had he simply done away with the long-form census altogether while keeping the shorter one mandatory, the move might indeed have gone unnoticed.

However, introducing a voluntary census was asking for trouble. The United States once attempted a similar experiment, but abandoned it after determining that data from voluntary surveys are unreliable, since marginalised groups are less likely to fill out the forms. Moreover, in order to keep the sample size constant despite a reduced response rate, the government would have to send out more forms, at an additional cost of C$30m ($29m). Canadians would be paying more money for less accurate information.

As a result, Canada’s statistical gurus staged a rebellion. The government’s chief statistician resigned in protest. Advocacy groups representing Francophone Canadians living outside the French-speaking province of Quebec launched an unsuccessful lawsuit, arguing that programmes for minorities require reliable census data on employment, education and immigration status. The Inuit have made a similar claim. The governor of the Bank of Canada said it uses census data to set monetary policy, and may have to look elsewhere after responses become voluntary. And ministers from Ontario and Quebec say they will no longer know how the labour market is changing and where to target spending on training and education.

Sound counter-arguments to these claims may exist. But the government isn’t making them. Tony Clement, the industry minister, said he had heard of concerns that the mandatory census represented an invasion of privacy. However, the privacy commissioner promptly revealed that her office had received a grand total of three such complaints in the last decade. He then bemoaned the unfairness of threatening to imprison people for not filling out their census form—which did indeed sound rather draconian, until a search of the records determined that no one had ever suffered this fate, although a few people had been fined. The government’s critics say the policy is simply an ideologically motivated sop to a small group of hard-line Conservatives who want less government in their lives.

Despite the uproar, Mr Harper is standing firm. The forms for the 2011 census have been printed, and the prime minister insists it will go ahead as planned, despite a parliamentary motion September 29th and a private member’s bill introduced the next day asking it to reverse course. The UN website promoting October 20th as World Statistics Day says it is meant to “to help strengthen the awareness and trust of the public in official statistics.” At Statistics Canada, currently without a chief statistician, the words have a hollow ring.

Canada's statistics-gathering: A senseless census reform | The Economist

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Census saga continues

The Centre Block on Parliament Hill, containin...

Image via Wikipedia

The link below offers Statistics Canada’s latest position on the census controversy, which contradicts numerous wrongful assertions made by the Industry Minister, Mr. Tony Clement.

Statistics Canada has formerly stated what the statisticians have been alerting to all along, i.e., the Statistics Canada is not aware of the extent of the adverse impacts on the quality of the data to be collected under the voluntary National Household Survey. Furthermore, Statistics Canada is not vouching for the quality of data under the voluntary survey and it is explicitly stating that the level of quality for the voluntary survey will be inferior to the one collected under the mandatory long-form census. In addition, Statistics Canada warns that the change will affect the comparability of data over time thus allowing only limited, if at all, comparisons between data collected in 2011 with the census data collected previously. The agency further expresses, albeit in muted terms, its displeasure over the modus operandi for implementing the revised methodology, which was “introduced relatively rapidly with limited testing.”

While Minister Clement on many occasions had suggested that the voluntary survey will return a richer database because it is being sent to one-in-three households instead of the 20% sample before, Statistics Canada estimates that despite larger sampling, the voluntary survey is likely to be completed by only 16% of Canadian households (because of lower response rate estimated at 50%) instead of 19% households who were expected to have completed the mandatory census long form.

Statistics Canada also offered simulation results for the estimated bias resulting from the shift to voluntary survey from mandatory Census.  In most instances, the estimated bias (before Statistics Canada applies mitigation strategies to address non-response bias) for most socio-demographics was much larger than the error of the estimate at 95% confidence level. Consider that under the voluntary survey, the Chinese population in Toronto is likely to be overestimated by 18% and Black residents to be underestimated by 13%. Simulations further showed that in Winnipeg, the voluntary survey may underestimate registered Indian population by 13%.

These biases will be even more dramatic in the case of smaller populations. Consider Bathurst, New Brunswick, where Statistics Canada simulations are suggesting that the voluntary survey will underestimate visible minorities by 43%. Such biases are unlikely to be systematic across Canada or within an urban centre, thus rendering the voluntary survey data of not much use for scientific inquiry.

While Statistics Canada has planned certain undisclosed mitigation strategies to off-set non-response bias, it warns not to read too much into such strategies since their effectiveness to offset “non-response bias and other quality limiting effects is largely unknown.”

The Census saga is just one example of the poor governance in Ottawa. While the Parliament is the supreme institution in the Canadian democracy representing the executive, it is however not wise for any Parliament to undermine judiciary or the civil service. By refusing to implement orders of the apex court (e.g., Khadr trial) or by ignoring the advice of government’s own experts (e.g., chief statistician), Prime Minister’s Harper’s government resembles more a dictatorship than a democracy.

The frustration of the 23,000 scientists and technicians working for the federal government has already spilled on to the Internet after the scientists launched the website www.publicscience.ca to express their dismay over the Tory government’s contempt for (and refusal to listen to) the expert advice.

I wonder if the (social) scientists, engineers, academics, and the civil society in Canada can stay on the sidelines and watch the Conservatives dismantle our democracy one institution at a time. Or is it the time to mount an opposition to the foolhardy governance in Ottawa. I am afraid we can no longer rely on the divided political opposition, which will end up splitting the opposition vote and thus allowing Tories to wreak havoc for another four years.

The time to act is now.



National Household Survey: data quality

The National Household Survey (NHS) contains all of the questions that Statistics Canada contemplated for inclusion in a 2011 Census long-form. The NHS is therefore identical in content to what would have been collected in a 2011 Census long-form.

Data quality

Response rates

In its initial planning, Statistics Canada assumed a response rate for a mandatory 2011 Census long-form of 94%, identical to that achieved for the 2006 Census.

Statistics Canada has assumed a response rate of 50% for the voluntary National Household Survey.

Sample size

In its initial planning, Statistics Canada assumed a sample of one in five households for a mandatory 2011 census long-form, identical to that for the 2006 Census.

Statistics Canada, in consultation with the Minister, has fixed the sampling rate for the National Household Survey at one in three households, a 65% increase relative to the initial plan.

Sampling error

Like the previous long-form census, the objective of the National Household Survey is to produce accurate estimates from the questions asked for a wide variety of geographic areas ranging from very large (such as provinces and census metropolitan areas) to very small (such as neighbourhoods and municipalities) and for various population subgroups such as aboriginal peoples and immigrants. Such population subgroups will also range in size, in particular when cross-classified by geographic areas. These groupings are generally referred to as “domains of interest”.

For any given domain of interest, assuming random sampling, the sampling error is driven by three factors: the size of the population, the number of survey respondents and the variability of the variables being measured. Amongst these, only the number of survey respondents can be influenced by the survey process. People are familiar with the notion of sampling error through statements in opinion polls about results being “accurate within plus or minus x%, 19 times out of 20”. The larger the number of respondents, the smaller the value of x will be and therefore the more accurate the survey estimates will be.

With a sampling rate of 1 in 3 and an anticipated response rate of 50%, approximately 16% of the Canadian population will complete the National Household Survey, compared with 19% under a mandatory census long form (i.e., sampling rate of 1 in 5 and a 94% response rate). Given its anticipated lower overall number of respondents, the National Household Survey will, in general over all domains of interest, have a sampling error that is slightly higher (worse) than would have been achieved from a mandatory long-form census. Furthermore, it is expected that the quality of estimates across domains will present more variability, with some areas potentially achieving lower sampling errors than would have been achieved through a mandatory long-form census (because of the higher sampling rate of 33%), while other areas may see substantially higher sampling errors (because of unusually low response rates on the voluntary survey). Smaller domains of interest are particularly at risk of such fluctuations.

The annex to this note provides actual confidence intervals (i.e. plus or minus x%) from the 2006 Census for various variables for the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area, the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area and the Bathurst Census Agglomeration (New Brunswick). Provided for comparison are simulated estimates and their corresponding confidence intervals for the National Household Survey based on a 50% response rate.

Non-sampling error

Besides sampling, there are many factors that can introduce errors in survey results. Examples include respondent mistakes, interviewer effects, data collection methodology as well as data capture and processing errors. The move to a voluntary National Household Survey will have little impact on some of these factors (such as data capture and processing errors) but the effect on the other error sources is unknown and impossible to quantify. 

However, it is believed that the most significant source of non-sampling error for the National Household Survey will be non-response bias. All surveys are subject to non-response bias, even a Census with a 98% response rate. The risk of non-response bias quickly increases as the response rate declines. This is because, in general, non-respondents tend to have characteristics that are different then those of the respondents and thus the results are not representative of the true population. Given that the National Household Survey is anticipated to achieve a response rate of only 50% there is a substantial risk of non-response bias.

Statistics Canada is very much aware of these risks and their associated adverse effects on data quality. The Agency is currently adapting its data collection and other procedures to mitigate as much as possible against these risks. In particular, we will be using data on response patterns from the 2006 Census and information generated during data collection in 2011 to guide our field follow-up effort to minimize non-response bias. As well, where possible, 2011 Census data will be used as auxiliary information in National Household Survey estimation procedures to partially offset some of the remaining biases. However there is certain to be some residual, significant bias that will be impossible to measure and correct.

To give some appreciation of the potential for non-response bias prior to the implementation of any mitigating strategies, a simulation has been conducted for three geographic areas using the 2006 Census. The simulation compares actual 2006 Census long-form data1 to estimates based on the assumption that 16% rather than 19% of the population responded for selected variables from the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area, the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area and the Bathurst Census Agglomeration (New Brunswick). Using this, and similar, information, Statistics Canada will plan its field operations to minimize, to the extent possible, the potential for non-response bias.

Comparability of data over time

Any significant change in the methods of a survey can affect the comparability of data over time. There is a real risk that this will be the case for the National Household Survey. There will always and inevitably be an element of uncertainty as to whether and to what extent a change in a variable reflects real change or an artefact arising from the change in methodology from the mandatory long-form census to the voluntary National Household Survey.

Change in survey processes, however, is inevitable and has precedents even in the Census of Population. In 1971, for example, two major changes were introduced: selfenumeration in the place of interviewer enumeration and asking some questions of a subsample (then 1/3) of the population rather than the entire population (there had been some sampling in previous censuses, beginning in 1941, on a much more limited scale).


We have never previously conducted a survey on the scale of the voluntary National Household Survey, nor are we aware of any other country that has. The new methodology has been introduced relatively rapidly with limited testing. The effectiveness of our mitigation strategies to offset non-response bias and other quality limiting effects is largely unknown. For these reasons, it is difficult to anticipate the quality level of the final outcome.

The significance of any quality shortcomings depends, to some extent, on the intended use of the data. Given that, and our mitigation strategies, we are confident that the National Household Survey will produce usable and useful data that will meet the needs of many users. It will not, however, provide a level of quality that would have been achieved through a mandatory long-form census.


The following tables are intended to assist readers in understanding quality issues around the National Household Survey by providing some quantitative indicators developed from 2006 Census data.

The following provides a guide to reading the first line of the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area table. Other lines are read analogously for all three tables.

The variable of interest in this line is the total income in 2005 of the population of the Toronto CMA aged 15 years and over. More specifically, the first line looks at the number of persons in this age group with incomes under $1000 or with no income. The estimated number of such persons from the 2006 Census was 435,580. Based on the actual data, the 95% confidence interval around this estimate (since the long-form census was a sample survey) was plus or minus 0.4%. Assuming that the actual response rate had been 50%, which is the working assumption for the National Household Survey, the 95% confidence interval around the corresponding simulated NHS estimate would be plus or minus 0.5%.

Continuing with the first line of the Toronto CMA table, the final column reports results from the simulation of non-response bias for this income group in the absence of mitigation strategies. For this income class, this simulation indicates that the size of population would be underestimated by 4.4% relative to the 2006 Census estimate.

In some instances in the tables, the estimated bias is smaller than the error of estimate at the 95% level of confidence for the 2006 Census. In these instances, one cannot conclude with confidence that the bias exists.

2006 Census (long-form) compared to 2006 simulated NHS — CMA Toronto.

Estimated total population: 5,061,815
Number of census respondents (long-form): 974,435
Estimated Number of NHS respondents: 728,340

  2006 Census Estimate +/- % 2006 Census Simulated NHS Estimate +/- % 2006 NHS Estimated Bias (%)
Total income in 2005 of population 15 years and over          
Under $1,000 or Without Income 435,580 0.40% 416,415 0.50% -4.40%
$50,000 and over 966,405 0.40% 1,015,780 0.50% 5.10%
Total population 25 to 64 years by highest certificate, diploma or degree          
High school or less 982,800 0.40% 945,150 0.50% -3.80%
College/Cegep 534,020 0.60% 529,140 0.70% -0.90%
University certificate, diploma or degree - Bachelor and above 962,175 0.40% 1,002,620 0.50% 4.20%
Total labour force 15 years and over 2,815,845 0.20% 2,821,480 0.20% 0.20%
Total labour force 15 years and over by industry          
23 Construction 148,895 1.20% 134,960 1.50% -9.40%
91 Public administration 94,195 1.60% 101,295 1.80% 7.50%
Total labour force 15 years and over by occupation          
A Management occupations 320,600 0.80% 320,305 0.90% -0.10%
B Business, finance and administration occupations 590,605 0.60% 614,430 0.60% 4.00%
D Health occupations 124,080 1.30% 123,300 1.50% -0.60%
G Sales and service occupations 611,410 0.50% 594,170 0.70% -2.80%
H Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations 327,850 0.80% 302,840 0.90% -7.60%
Total visible minority population 2,174,065 0.40% 2,131,405 0.50% -2.00%
Chinese 486,330 1.10% 572,040 1.20% 17.60%
Black 352,220 1.30% 305,895 1.60% -13.20%
Total population by citizenship          
Citizenship other than Canadian 642,130 0.80% 606,050 0.90% -5.60%
Population by Immigrant Status          
Immigrants 2,320,165 0.20% 2,274,450 0.30% -2.00%
Total population by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal identity          
Total Aboriginal identity population 26,575 3.40% 25,000 4.10% -5.90%
Registered Indian status          
Registered Indian 9,950 3.90% 8,790 4.90% -11.70%
Mobility 1 year          
Moved 612,130 0.90% 575,780 1.10% -5.90%
Not moved 4,459,945 0.10% 4,496,295 0.10% 0.80%


2006 Census (long-form) compared to 2006 simulated NHS — CMA Winnipeg
Estimated total population: 681,815
Number of census respondents (long-form): 132,155
Estimated number of NHS respondents: 96,735
  2006 Census Estimate +/- % 2006 Census Simulated NHS Estimate +/- % 2006 NHS Estimated Bias (%)
Total income in 2005 of population 15 years and over          
Under $1,000 or Without Income 41,590 1.40% 39,715 1.60% -4.50%
$50,000 and over 104,420 1.30% 107,995 1.50% 3.40%
Total population 25 to 64 years by highest certificate, diploma or degree -          
High school or less 152,670 1.00% 149,180 1.20% -2.30%
College/Cegep 73,235 1.50% 73,435 1.80% 0.30%
University certificate, diploma or degree - Bachelor and above 90,535 1.40% 92,840 1.60% 2.50%
Total labour force 15 years and over 385,870 0.50% 385,360 0.60% -0.10%
Total labour force 15 years and over by industry          
23 Construction 18,780 3.50% 17,070 4.30% -9.10%
91 Public administration 27,105 2.90% 27,830 3.30% 2.70%
Total labour force 15 years and over by occupation          
A Management occupations 35,480 2.40% 34,810 2.80% -1.90%
B Business, finance and administration occupations 76,155 1.60% 79,225 1.80% 4.00%
D Health occupations 25,885 2.80% 26,475 3.30% 2.30%
G Sales and service occupations 95,180 1.40% 93,505 1.60% -1.80%
H Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations 51,715 1.90% 49,105 2.40% -5.00%
Total visible minority population 102,945 2.30% 99,340 2.80% -3.50%
Chinese 12,810 7.00% 12,245 8.50% -4.40%
Black 14,470 6.60% 13,845 8.00% -4.30%
Total population by citizenship          
Citizenship other than Canadian 37,545 3.30% 35,770 4.00% -4.70%
Population by Immigrant Status          
Immigrants 121,255 1.30% 117,870 1.60% -2.80%
Total population by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal identity          
Total Aboriginal identity population 68,385 2.00% 63,845 2.50% -6.60%
Registered Indian status          
Registered Indian 26,610 2.40% 23,225 3.00% -12.70%
Mobility 1 year          
Moved 91,060 2.20% 85,395 2.80% -6.20%
Not moved 594,975 0.30% 600,640 0.30% 1.00%


2006 Census (long-form) compared to 2006 simulated NHS — Bathurst
Estimated total population: 30,750
Number of census respondents (long-form): 5,910
Estimated number of NHS respondents: 4,280


  2006 Census Estimate +/- % 2006 Census Simulated NHS Estimate +/- % 2006 NHS Estimated Bias (%)
Total income in 2005 of population 15 years and over          
Under $1,000 or Without Income 2,105 6.00% 1,995 7.40% -5.20%
$50,000 and over 3,805 6.70% 4,040 7.70% 6.20%
Total population 25 to 64 years by highest certificate, diploma or degree -          
High school or less 8,425 4.10% 8,110 5.00% -3.70%
College/Cegep 4,075 6.40% 4,205 7.50% 3.20%
University certificate, diploma or degree - Bachelor and above 2,360 8.70% 2,450 10.20% 3.80%
Total labour force 15 years and over 15,830 2.60% 15,625 3.20% -1.30%
Total labour force 15 years and over by industry          
23 Construction 795 16.90% 805 20.10% 1.30%
91 Public administration 1,465 12.30% 1,535 14.40% 4.80%
Total labour force 15 years and over by occupation          
A Management occupations 1,145 13.30% 975 17.30% -14.80%
B Business, finance and administration occupations 2,680 8.50% 2,695 10.10% 0.60%
D Health occupations 1,410 11.90% 1,610 13.30% 14.20%
G Sales and service occupations 4,310 6.50% 4,445 7.60% 3.10%
H Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations 2,635 8.50% 2,525 10.50% -4.20%
Total visible minority population 300 45.90% 170 73.20% -43.30%
Chinese 40 126.40% 10 302.50% -75.00%
Black 115 74.40% 60 123.40% -47.80%
Total population by citizenship          
Citizenship other than Canadian 100 65.40% 130 68.60% 30.00%
Population by Immigrant Status          
Immigrants 475 23.20% 475 27.80% 0.00%
Total population by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal identity          
Total Aboriginal identity population 440 26.20% 505 29.20% 14.80%
Registered Indian status          
Registered Indian 185 28.70% 160 37.00% -13.50%
Mobility 1 year          
Moved 3,235 12.10% 2,630 16.30% -18.70%
Not moved 27,695 1.20% 28,300 1.20% 2.20%



  1. For the purposes of the simulation, the 2006 Census estimates have been assumed to be the “true” population values.  It should be noted, however, that the 2006 Census estimates are themselves subject both to sampling error and to response bias as they are based on a sample of 1 in 5 households.
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Come September

House for saleImage by Pieter Musterd via FlickrTwo news items suggest that there may be some progress towards economic recovery in North America. First the retail sales in the US ended up higher than expected in September.

Retail Sales in U.S. Climbed More Than Forecast in September

The automotive sector has come to the retailers' rescue in the US resulting in a 25-month high in September.

Second, the housing markets in Canada is showing some strength  where the sales and the average price both inched up a bit.


Will these trends last in October and later in November so that one may look forward to strong sales for the December shopping season?
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Higher Taxes Mean I’ll Work Less - NYTimes.com

AN important issue dividing the political parties is whether to raise taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year. Democrats say these taxpayers can afford to chip in a bit more. Republicans say raising taxes on those who already face the highest marginal tax rates will hurt the economy.

So I thought it might be useful to do a case study on one of these high-income taxpayers. Fortunately, I have one handy: me.

As a professor at Harvard and the author of some popular textbooks, I am comfortably in the income range that would be hit by this tax increase. I have been thinking — narcissistically, to be sure — about how higher taxes would affect me. Maybe these thoughts can shed some light on some of the broader policy issues.

First, I have to acknowledge that the Democrats are right about one thing: I can afford to pay more in taxes. My income is not in the same league as superstar actors and hedge fund managers, but I have been very lucky nonetheless. Unlike many other Americans, I don’t have trouble making ends meet.

Indeed, I could go so far as to say I am almost completely sated. One reason is that I don’t aspire for much more than a typical upper-middle-class lifestyle. I don’t fly around on a private jet. I have little desire to own a yacht or a Ferrari. I own only one home, in which I have lived since 1987. Paying an extra few percent in taxes wouldn’t create a lot of hardship.

Nonetheless, as Republicans emphasize, taxes influence the decisions I make. I am regularly offered opportunities to earn extra money. It could be by talking to a business group, consulting on a legal case, giving a guest lecture, teaching summer school or writing an article. I turn down most but accept a few.

And I acknowledge that my motives in taking on extra work are partly mercenary. I don’t want to move to a bigger house or buy that Ferrari, but I hope to put some money aside for my three children. They will never lead lives of leisure, but I hope they won’t have to struggle to find down payments to buy their own homes or to send their kids to college.

Suppose that some editor offered me $1,000 to write an article. If there were no taxes of any kind, this $1,000 of income would translate into $1,000 in extra saving. If I invested it in the stock of a company that earned, say, 8 percent a year on its capital, then 30 years from now, when I pass on, my children would inherit about $10,000. That is simply the miracle of compounding.

Now let’s put taxes into the calculus. First, assuming that the Bush tax cuts expire, I would pay 39.6 percent in federal income taxes on that extra income. Beyond that, the phaseout of deductions adds 1.2 percentage points to my effective marginal tax rate. I also pay Medicare tax, which the recent health care bill is raising to 3.8 percent, starting in 2013. And in Massachusetts, I pay 5.3 percent in state income taxes, part of which I get back as a federal deduction. Putting all those taxes together, that $1,000 of pretax income becomes only $523 of saving.

And that saving no longer earns 8 percent. First, the corporation in which I have invested pays a 35 percent corporate tax on its earnings. So I get only 5.2 percent in dividends and capital gains. Then, on that income, I pay taxes at the federal and state level. As a result, I earn about 4 percent after taxes, and the $523 in saving grows to $1,700 after 30 years.

Then, when my children inherit the money, the estate tax will kick in. The marginal estate tax rate is scheduled to go as high as 55 percent next year, but Congress may reduce it a bit. Most likely, when that $1,700 enters my estate, my kids will get, at most, $1,000 of it.

HERE’S the bottom line: Without any taxes, accepting that editor’s assignment would have yielded my children an extra $10,000. With taxes, it yields only $1,000. In effect, once the entire tax system is taken into account, my family’s marginal tax rate is about 90 percent. Is it any wonder that I turn down most of the money-making opportunities I am offered?

By contrast, without the tax increases advocated by the Obama administration, the numbers would look quite different. I would face a lower income tax rate, a lower Medicare tax rate, and no deduction phaseout or estate tax. Taking that writing assignment would yield my kids about $2,000. I would have twice the incentive to keep working.

Now you might not care if I supply less of my services to the marketplace — although, because you are reading this article, you are one of my customers. But I bet there are some high-income taxpayers whose services you enjoy.

Maybe you are looking forward to a particular actor’s next movie or a particular novelist’s next book. Perhaps you wish that your favorite singer would have a concert near where you live. Or, someday, you may need treatment from a highly trained surgeon, or your child may need braces from the local orthodontist. Like me, these individuals respond to incentives. (Indeed, some studies report that high-income taxpayers are particularly responsive to taxes.) As they face higher tax rates, their services will be in shorter supply.

Reasonable people can disagree about whether and how much the government should redistribute income. And, to be sure, the looming budget deficits require hard choices about spending and taxes. But don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that when the government taxes the rich, only the rich bear the burden.

N. Gregory Mankiw is a professor of economics at Harvard. He was an adviser to President George W. Bush.

Economic View - Higher Taxes Mean I’ll Work Less - NYTimes.com

Search externalities in housing, labour, and marraige markets

The Work Behind the Nobel Prize - NYTimes.com

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Clement, for the record on the census and the Power of One - Inside Politics

If one reads the following transcript documenting a dialogue between the Industry Minister, Tony Clement, and a reporter, one has no option but to conclude that Mr. Clement is not fit to be a member of the Canadian Parliament. He is trying to defend the government's decision, which has put the Census in jeopardy, because he believes Canada-wide data collection could be suspended or scrapped even when the process annoys a single Canadian.

Tony Clement is not fit to govern. He should be prevented from causing further harm to the state.

Clement, for the record on the census and the Power of One - Inside Politics
October 7, 2010 12:27 PM
| Comments64Recommend39 There has been a lot of talk in recent days about Industry Minister Tony Clement suggesting that one person, one Canadian complaining about the scrapping of the mandatory long-form census is a enough to convince the government to change policy.

The minister doesn't agree that's what he said.

In fact, just yesterday the minister tried to defend his statement by saying this, "Let me interpret what I said, because the question was more of a general question."

For the record, I was the reporter asking the questions in this case and I thought it might be worthwhile to transcribe the entire exchange and let you decide what the Minister actually said and interpret it for yourself.

Let me know what you think.

Barton: "Mr Clement, there were never a 1,000 emails about the census..."

Clement: "Well, I can't speak for Maxime Bernier, but I can tell you that if you have a complaint about the census the last place you're going to complain about is to the census people. You're going to complain to your MP."

Barton: "I know, but if you're the industry minister and you were getting 1,000 complaints a day of whatever nature about the census, you would have told Statistics Canada, 'Hey, there's something going on here, people aren't happy'?"

Clement: "I can't speak for past industry ministers. They have to speak for themselves. But all I can tell you is, that it stands to reason that if you have a complaint about the coercive tactics of a government agency the last place you're going to complain about that is to the government agency. You're going to complain to your duly elected local MP."

Barton: "But then why aren't people tabling all those complaints? because we don't have them."

Clement: "I got a letter in my question period book from a Liberal MP from Richmond Hill who complained to the minister about that very topic. So to say they don't exist is not true."

Barton: "But they're not in the hundreds, they're not in the thousands..."

Clement: "I can't quantify. Even if there's one complaint, if it's a legitimate complaint, even if there's one complaint from a Canadian about the coercive tactics used by a government agency we have to consider that complaint a valid question about public policy."

Barton: "Sure, but we don't change public policy for one person do we?"

Clement: "Why not? If they're right."

Barton: "We change public policy for one person?"

Clement: "If they're right."