This paper examines why Canadian poverty rates fell relative to U. S. poverty rates during the periods 1970-1979 and 1979-1986. During the 1970s the principal reason for declining Canadian poverty rates is higher economic growth. During the 1980s, however, differences in government transfer policy are the main cause of relative poverty change in the two countries. Virtually all of the 3.3 point fall in relative Canadian/U.S. poverty rates from 1979 to 1986 can be attributed to expansions in the Canadian transfer system and simultaneous contractions in U. S. transfers.