Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 108, Issue 2, pp e135–e144 | Cite as

A natural experimental study of the protective effect of home ownership on household food insecurity in Canada before and after a recession (2008–2009)

  • Lynn McIntyreEmail author
  • Xiuyun Wu
  • Cynthia Kwok
  • J. C. Herbert Emery
Quantitative Research


OBJECTIVES: Home ownership as opposed to renting is associated with lower rates of food insecurity, the latter being a marker of household economic deprivation associated with adverse health outcomes. It is unclear whether this relationship persists during a major economic decline, or whether different subgroups of home owners are equally protected. The 2008–2009 recession in Canada was tied to events in the United States related to inappropriate mortgage financing; the impact of the recession on food insecurity among home owners may identify policies to mitigate recessionary outcomes.

METHODS: We used a before-and-after natural experimental design using data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) cycles 2007/2008 (pre-recession) and 2009/2010 (post-recession) with information on household food insecurity, home ownership versus renting, and socio-demographics. Applying multivariable logistic regression, we examined changes in household food insecurity by housing tenure and sex over the period.

RESULTS: Pre-recession, food insecurity affected 3.3% of home owners and 17.1% of renter households. Among home owners, the risk of food insecurity increased post-recession by 10%, which was not statistically significant. Post-recession, and with adjustment, although renters’ higher absolute risk of food insecurity persisted, male-respondent home owners experienced the highest rate of increase in food insecurity prevalence by subgroup (OR = 1.26, 95% CI: 1.06–1.50) versus renters (OR = 1.17, 95% CI: 1.05–1.29).

CONCLUSION: Housing policies in Canada protected most home owners from precarity during the 2008–2009 economic recession; however, male-respondent home owners exhibited a unique economic vulnerability during this time. Implications of Canadian home ownership policies are discussed in light of differential vulnerability of home owner groups.

Key Words

Natural experiment housing tenure food insecurity economic recession home ownership Canada 


OBJECTIFS: L’accession à la propriété, par opposition à la location, est associée à un plus faible taux d’insécurité alimentaire, cette dernière étant un indicateur de défavorisation économique des ménages associé à des résultats sanitaires indésirables. On ne sait pas si cette relation persiste durant un fort recul économique ou si différents sous-groupes de propriétaires reçoivent une protection égale. La récession de 2008–2009 au Canada était liée à des événements aux États-Unis rattachés à des crédits hypothécaires inappropriés; l’impact de la récession sur l’insécurité alimentaire chez les propriétaires pourrait permettre de définir des politiques pour atténuer les effets récessifs.

MÉTHODE: Nous avons utilisé un protocole d’expérience avant-après dans les conditions naturelles à l’aide des données des cycles 2007–2008 (avant la récession) et 2009–2010 (après la récession) de l’Enquête sur la santé dans les collectivités canadiennes (ESCC), qui contiennent de l’information sur l’insécurité alimentaire des ménages, l’accession à la propriété par rapport à la location, et les caractéristiques sociodémographiques. En appliquant une régression logistique multivariée, nous avons examiné les changements dans l’insécurité alimentaire des ménages selon le mode d’occupation du logement et le sexe au cours de la période.

RÉSULTATS: Avant la récession, l’insécurité alimentaire touchait 3,3 % des ménages propriétaires et 17,1 % des ménages locataires. Chez les propriétaires, le risque d’insécurité alimentaire a augmenté de 10 % après la récession, mais ce chiffre n’était pas significatif. Après la récession, et avec les ajustements nécessaires, bien que le risque absolu d’insécurité alimentaire plus élevé chez les locataires ait persisté, les répondants propriétaires de sexe masculin ont affiché le plus haut taux d’augmentation de la prévalence de l’insécurité alimentaire par sous-groupe (RC = 1,26, IC de 95 %: 1,06–1,50) comparativement aux locataires (RC = 1,17, IC de 95 %: 1,05–1,29).

CONCLUSION: Les politiques de logement au Canada ont protégé la plupart des propriétaires contre la précarité durant la récession économique de 2008–2009; cependant, les répondants propriétaires de sexe masculin ont affiché une vulnérabilité économique unique durant cette période. Nous discutons des conséquences des politiques canadiennes d’accession à la propriété à la lumière de cet écart de vulnérabilité entre les groupes de propriétaires.

Mots Clés

expérience dans les conditions naturelles mode d’occupation du logement insécurité alimentaire récession économique accession à la propriété Canada 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynn McIntyre
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xiuyun Wu
    • 1
  • Cynthia Kwok
    • 1
  • J. C. Herbert Emery
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.School of Public Policy and Department of EconomicsUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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