Health, Wealth and Happiness: Dynamics of Families and a Good Old Age? (Project Partnership 2016–2019)

Over the past several decades, Canada’s family landscape has been transformed by population aging and growing diversity. Seniors account for more than 15% of Canadians and, by 2030, close to one in four will be 65 years of age or older.

Retirement patterns are becoming increasingly complex, due in part to the elimination of mandatory retirement, the availability of part-time workers, the popularity of phased retirement and the increase in second and third careers. Families are adapting in response to these demographic trends.

Families themselves are evolving and becoming increasingly diverse and complex: family size is shrinking, a growing number of family members are settling in Canada from around the world and family structures are diversifying with increasing shares of common-law and same-sex couples, stepfamilies and lone-parent families.

An exploration of how these trends intersect and interact will be essential to understand how they affect the financial, social and health outcomes of Canadians in later life. Although research has shown that family status is a rough indicator of well-being, the variability of family trajectories – if, when and in what order family transitions occur – has not been closely examined. The Health, Wealth and Happiness Project is dedicated to better understanding the impact of various family trajectories on later life.

The Vanier Institute of the Family is collaborating with 12 key stakeholders and several national and international community partners – including the federal Ministry of Families, Children and Social Development – to better understand how families impact and are impacted by these trends and to fill the knowledge gap with regard to financial, social and health outcomes later in life.

The Vanier Institute’s role in this partnership is:

  • Knowledge mobilization:
      • To publish findings from various project subcomponents on our website, in our InfoVanier e-newsletter and in Transition
      • To participate in conferences and panels to disseminate findings from the project
  • Student engagement:
      • To engage Ph.D. students who research the impact on families

The Health, Wealth and Happiness Project will increase our understanding of:

  • The occurrence, timing and order of family transitions and their impact on matters for later life, including financial, social and health outcomes
  • The relationship between financial, social and health outcomes in later life
  • The influence of family histories and life course experiences on the relationships of financial, social and health outcomes in later life

This research project is being led by the University of Alberta.

Engage, Participate and Collaborate


The Health, Wealth and Happiness Project receives the majority of its funding from the Kule Institute for Advanced Studies (KIAS) at the University of Alberta, along with numerous university and community partners nationally and internationally.

Project Timeline

The project is ongoing from 2016 to 2019.

Project Lead

Joohong Min, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Human Ecology
Faculty of Agricultural, Life, and Environmental Sciences (focus on families and aging over the life course, social relationships and health in later life)
University of Alberta

Vanier Institute Lead

Nora Spinks
CEO, The Vanier Institute of the Family

Ethics Approval

This project is ethics-approved by the University of Alberta.

For more information, please contact:

Sara MacNaull
Program Director
The Vanier Institute of the Family
94 Centrepointe Dr., Ottawa, Ontario  K2G 6B1
Tel.: 613-228-8500, ext. 219