For the First Time, Canadians Now Richer Than Americans

America's neighbor to the north has been quietly getting richer over the past five years.

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The net worth of the average Canadian household in 2011 was $363,202.

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While Americans might enjoy throwing politically-charged barbs at their neighbors to the north, Canadians now have at least one reason to be smug.

For the first time in recent history, the average Canadian is richer than the average American, according to a report cited in Toronto's Globe and Mail.

And not just by a little. Currently, the average Canadian household is more than $40,000 richer than the average American household. The net worth of the average Canadian household in 2011 was $363,202, compared to around $320,000 for Americans.

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If you're thinking the Canadian advantage must be due to exchange rates, think again. The Canadian dollar has actually caught up to the U.S. dollar in recent years.

"These are not 60-cent dollars, but Canadian dollars more or less at par with the U.S. greenback," Globe and Mail's Michael Adams writes.

To add insult to injury, not only are Canadians comparatively better-off than Americans, they're also more likely to be employed. The unemployment rate is 7.2 percent—and dropping—in Canada, while the U.S. is stuck with a stubbornly high rate of 8.2 percent.

Besides a strengthening currency and a better labor market, experts credit the particularly savage fallout from the financial crisis on the U.S. economy and housing market, which torpedoed home values and gutted household wealth. According to the report, real estate held by Canadians is worth more than $140,000 more on average and they have almost four times as much equity in their real estate investments.

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In a column for Bloomberg View, Stephen Marche traces the increasing wealth spread between the two countries to America's "struggles to find its way out of an intractable economic crisis and a political sine curve of hope and despair."

"The Canadian System is working," Marche writes, crediting Canada's cautious, fiscally conservative society. "[T]he American system is not."

But there is one caveat that could give the U.S. an ego boost: the average American holds more liquid assets—cash in hand—than the average Canadian.

Meg Handley is a business reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can reach her at mhandley@usnews.com and follow her on Twitter.