The Daily
 In the news  Indicators  Releases by subject
 Special interest  Release schedule  Information

Younger age profile of women in professional occupations

Released: 2020-10-22

The Canadian labour market has evolved considerably over the last four decades, and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact. The longer-term effects of the pandemic on various industries and occupations will need to be viewed in the context of an aging workforce. A new study released today in the Labour Statistics: Research Papers series (Catalogue number75-004-M) examines the prevalence and age composition of working Canadians by occupation, through a gender and diversity lens.

Canada's workforce is aging

Canada's population is aging and so too is the working population. According to the Labour Force Survey, in 2019, there were about the same number of younger workers aged 25 to 34 as there were older workers aged 55 and older—for both women and men. More than two decades earlier, the employed population was much younger. In 1996, this younger-to-older worker ratio—or renewal ratio—was 3.30 for women, meaning that there were over three employed women aged 25 to 34 for each one aged 55 and older (see note to readers). At the same time, this ratio was 2.38 for employed men.

Some workers—notably South Asian, Chinese and Black—are younger than the rest of the employed population

Despite the overall aging of the working population for both men and women, the age composition of South Asian, Chinese and Black workers is markedly younger. Data from the 2016 Census showed that the highest renewal ratio was for South Asian women (2.26), while it was also above replacement for Black (1.72) and Chinese (1.53) women. In contrast, the renewal ratio for the rest of the employed female population was just below replacement (0.96).

Among employed men, these ratios were higher for Black (1.64), South Asian (1.61) and Chinese (1.23) men than for all other male workers (0.86). In each case, the ratios were lower for men than for women. In other words, workers in these diverse groups may help to moderate the pace of aging in the labour force, and this is particularly true for women.

Younger age profile of women in professional occupations

In 2016, more than one-fifth (21%) of employed women held jobs usually requiring a university degree, also known as professional occupations, compared with 16% of employed men. More than one-quarter of Chinese women worked in a professional occupation (27%), while approximately one-fifth of South Asian (21%) and Black (19%) women did so. Among employed men, almost one-third of Chinese men (30%) worked in professional occupations, compared with 21% of South Asian men and 15% of Black men.

Renewal ratios for South Asian, Chinese and Black women were notably higher than the rest of the female working population for those in professional occupations. Among female physicians, dentists and veterinarians, for example, the younger-to-older worker ratio was 3.94 for Chinese women. It was also well above replacement for South Asian (2.26) and Black (2.11) women, and higher than for the rest of the female population working in this occupational group (1.54). In contrast, physicians, dentists and veterinarians was not among the top 10 for Black men, and the renewal ratio was about replacement level for South Asian men (1.02) and below replacement for Chinese men (0.91) and the rest of the male population (0.37).

There were smaller differences in the age composition between women and men in occupations with other skill levels, that is, occupations that did not usually require a university degree, as well as management occupations. Women and men in these occupations had renewal ratios below replacement—although similar to professional occupations, ratios were generally higher for those in diverse groups.

  Note to readers

In this release, data from the 2016 Census of Population were used to examine the prevalence and age composition of workers in occupations that usually required a university degree, those without such a requirement, and management occupations. Analysis focused on differences across diverse groups of women and men, specifically, those who were South Asian, Chinese and Black. Data from the Labour Force Survey were used to provide an overview of the age-related trends of employed women and men since 1996.

Renewal ratio is defined as the number of younger workers aged 25 to 34 to older workers aged 55 and older. The ratio of younger workers to older workers gives an indication of the renewal of the employed population. The majority of younger workers have completed the educational requirements necessary for most occupations and can be expected to remain in the labour force for many more years, while older workers are nearer to retiring. A ratio greater than 1.0 means that there are more younger workers than older workers, or more relatively recent entrants compared with those expected to leave the labour market more quickly. Conversely, a ratio of less than 1.0 means more exits than recent entries and may indicate difficulty in replacing retiring workers. A ratio equal to 1.0 indicates that there are as many younger workers as there are older workers.


The article "Occupations of South Asian, Chinese and Black women: Prevalence and age composition" is now available online in Labour Statistics: Research Papers series (Catalogue number75-004-M).

The infographic "The she-conomy: Age and diversity of women in the labour force" is also now available, as part of the series Statistics Canada — Infographics (Catalogue number11-627-M).

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Anne Milan (, Centre for Demography or Valerie Gagnon (, Diversity and Sociocultural statistics.

Report a problem on this page

Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

Privacy notice

Date modified: