Looking beyond the material needs of the poor, what really matters is income mobility: How easy it is for people to better their lot in life by moving up the economic ladder, and whether the structure that’s in place creates a permanent underclass of destitute citizens. And the answer is good news: According to a new study from the Fraser Institute, Canadians are not stuck on one rung of the economic ladder; they in fact enjoy a high degree of income mobility.

The report examined Statistics Canada data on groups of people over five, 10 and 19 year periods. In all the time periods, those in the lowest income bracket experienced the highest degree of income mobility. Between 1990 and 2009, 87% of those in the bottom 20% of income earners moved into a higher income group; 21% managed to move all the way up to the top 20% of earners. The average salaries of people at the bottom increased by 635% over that same period of time…

The take away for Canadians is that a little hard work can go a long way.