A Homeless Man can have as much Wealth as the Poorest 21.4% of Canadians Combined
There is a reason why every study or news article uses percentage of the entire population when comparing net worth. They can state facts such as the two richest Canadians have as much wealth at the poorest 20% or even 30% of Canadians. Actually, every single individual on Earth has a net worth that is greater than the combined net worth of the poorest 20% of Canadian households, unless of course you happen to know someone with a $10,826,000,000 debt, that is ten billion, eight hundred and twenty-six million dollars of debt.
Why not choose median net worth? Well for starters the median net worth for Canadian households in 2012 was $245,000. If we took the wealth of the top two richest Canadians ($30.74 billion + $11.38 billion = $42.12 billion) and divided it by $245,000 you would get 171,918.367347. This would work out to a net worth equal to (171,918.367347 ÷ 13,320,610 households =) 1.3% of the Canadian population with a median net wealth, not quite as sexy as saying the combined net worth of the bottom 30% of Canadian households.
The numbers get even smaller if you take the combined wealth of the two richest Canadians and compare it to the combined wealth of all Canadians. We will divide their combined wealth with the combined wealth of all Canadians ($8,073,585,000,000). So, $42.12 billion ÷ $8,073,585,000,000 = 0.5% of Canada's net worth is owned by the two richest Canadians.
Combined Wealth if you are Broke
Here are the stats using the Statistics Canada numbers.
The bottom 20% had a combined net worth of (-$10,826,000,000) or negative ten billion, eight-hundred and twenty-six million dollars. Anybody who has a net worth that is greater than being ten billion dollars in the hole, has a net worth that is greater than the poorest 20% of Canadian families combined. Basically, every family on the planet has a net worth that is greater than the combined net worth of the poorest 20% of Canadian family households. If your net worth is $0, then you would be richer than the combined wealth of at least 21.4% of the Canadian households. We will take the ($10,826,000,000 debt ÷ $56,100 the median net worth in the second quintile ÷ 13,320,610 Canadian households + 20%) = 21.4%. It would be higher than 21.4%, but we took the median of the second quintile so that we didn't overstate the percentage.
Many of the Canadians living in the worst conditions are not considered the poorest, because you would need credit to be in debt. Stats can be twisted to mislead people, just like we are doing here. It is hard to tell what the poor (wealth wise) is. It can be young promising Canadians with a student loan, first time home buyers that put down a 5% down payment and are just above water on their home, a lifelong renter with a small amount of credit card debt or someone with a recent bankruptcy.
How to you compare to the average Canadian household. 90%, 70% and 50% of families have a net worth of $1,100, $56,100 and $245,000 respectively.
This Article is not saying there isn't Inequality in Canada
Of course, we are not saying that the poorest of Canadians are well off or that inequality isn't a problem. Just the fact that you can have just one paycheck in your bank account and be richer than 10% of Canadians is a scary thought or the fact that the two richest Canadians have the same wealth of 171,000+ Canadian households with a median net worth is insane. We are just showing you how statistics can be manipulated to highlight a study's agenda. Seriously though, when the richest Canadian has a net worth that is less than the expected federal deficit this year, then you can probably tell that he has nowhere near the proportional wealth that these statistics are leading some people to believe, although still incredibly rich by any standard.
On a side note, despite what you may think, the 40% to 80% wealthiest households have been increasing the share of wealth in Canada, as the top 20% has slightly decreased their share of wealth in Canada.
Source: Distribution and median net worth by quintile
List of Canadians by Net Worth