Women 12% more likely to feel cost of living stress than men in Canada: survey


Published March 6, 2024 at 1:14 pm

inflation women canada

A new survey finds Canadian women are more likely to feel stress and pressure due to inflation and the rising cost of living.

The survey, from BMO Financial Group, aimed to examine the gender gap in finances as International Women’s Day approaches on Friday (March 8).

As inflation impacts everything from food prices to housing, many are struggling to make ends meet. A recent study found people need to make more than $25 an hour to live comfortably in the GTA.

And despite progress toward narrowing the wage gap, women still earn less than men in Canada. The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show Canadian-born women earned 9.2 per cent less than their male counterparts in 2022 down from 15 per cent in 2007.

The wage gap is higher for immigrant Canadian women and Indigenous women.

So, it may not come as a surprise that Canadian women are 12 per cent more likely than men to feel increasingly concerned about the economic pressures.

In the BMO Real Financial Progress Index survey, 63 per cent of women reported their concerns about inflation have increased in the last three months versus 51 per cent of men.

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of women say concerns about cost of living have increased in the last three months – 12 per cent more than men.

Also, 43 per cent of women say concerns about their financial situation have increased in the last three months – eight per cent more than men.


Women are seven per cent more likely to feel less confident in their financial situation and five per cent more likely to feel less financially secure than they did a year ago compared to men.

Men also believe they have enough savings to weather economic storms. Over two-thirds (69 per cent) of men have enough savings to get them through an emergency compared to 63 per cent women.

Women also appear to be less confident about future financial gains.

Women are eight per cent less likely to believe they are making real financial progress compared to men (37 per cent of men versus 29 per cent of women).

Over a third (35 per cent) of women say that uncertainty about their financial future is holding them back from making financial progress – five per cent more than men.

“While women have made meaningful strides in the workplace and in business, their financial security and opportunity to build long-term wealth are held back as they continue to feel disproportionately affected by current economic conditions,” said Gayle Ramsay, head of Everyday Banking, Segment and Customer Growth, BMO.

Ramsay suggests contacting a financial for advice on financial planning.

While most women feel in control of their finances (75 per cent versus 78 per cent of men), women are seven per cent less likely to have set an annual household budget and four per cent less likely to have a written financial plan.

Among the 68 per cent of women who have set financial goals, top goals include saving for retirement (57 per cent), saving for a vacation (51 per cent), paying down debt (43 per cent) and saving for a major purchase such as a car, large appliance, etc. (32 per cent versus 40 per cent of men).

It’s also interesting to note that there is a difference between generations.

Gen Z women (ages 18 to 24) were the most likely to have received financial literacy support from their families (62 per cent). Only 44 per cent of older women said their families supported financial literacy while growing up through conversations about budgeting, saving and financial planning.

The research for the survey was conducted by Ipsos in Canada from Jan. 2 to 19, 2024.

A sample of n= 2,500 adults ages 18+ in Canada were collected. Quotas and weighting were used to ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters.

This survey has a credibility interval of +/- 2.4 per cent 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had all Canadian adults 18+ been surveyed.

Lead photo: Karolina Grabowska 

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