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Study: Seniors in rural Canada

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1986 to 2006

Canada's rural population is aging faster than its urban population in terms of the share of senior citizens.

Between 1996 and 2006, the number of rural seniors increased by 19%, compared with 23% for their urban counterparts.

However, because of the migration of younger people to urban areas, the share of the rural population that was senior (aged 65 and older) increased by 2.1 percentage points, whereas the share of seniors in the predominantly urban population increased by 1.1 percentage points.

In 2006, for every senior in rural regions of the country, there were 4.3 people in the working-age population. However, in urban Canada, this ratio was higher at 5.6.

In the most rural regions of Canada, there were just four people in the working-age population for every one senior in 2006.

During the 20-year period between 1986 and 2006, 39% of the communities in Canada's rural regions recorded an increase in both the share of seniors and the absolute number of seniors. This contrasts with 64% of the communities in predominantly urban regions.

By this measure, fewer communities in rural regions are aging, compared with communities in urban regions.

Between 1986 and 2006, nearly 80% of the communities in the rural regions in British Columbia recorded an increase in both the share of seniors and the absolute number of seniors, the highest proportion of any province.

At the other end of the scale, less than 10% of the communities in the rural regions of Saskatchewan were aging in both these ways during this time.

Note: Statistics Canada uses various definitions of rural depending on the focus of analysis. This bulletin follows the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development regional typology, which defines a "predominantly rural region" as having more than 50% of its population living in rural communities. A "rural community" has a population density of less than 150 persons per square kilometre. In Canada, census divisions are used to represent regions and census consolidated sub-divisions are used to represent communities.

The study "Seniors in rural Canada" is now available in the Rural and Small Town Canada Analysis Bulletin, Vol. 7, no. 8, (21-006-XIE, free), from the Publications module of our website.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Neil Rothwell (613-951-0323;, Agriculture Division.