A portrait of Canadian youth

Release date: February 7, 2018

February 7, 2018

  1. Who are Canadian youth and where do they live?
  2. What are Canadian youth doing?
  3. How are Canadian youth doing?
  4. What's next?

Today's youth are unlike any generation before!

They are more:

  • Diverse
  • Connected
  • Socially Engaged
  • Educated

Many youth are reaping the benefits but others face challenges such as...

  • finding a full time job
  • social exclusion
  • cyberbullying
  • mental health challenges and addiction
  • higher risk of being obese

Also important to think about today's youth within the entire life course.

It is important to remember that today's youth will become Canada's future parents, prime-age workers, and seniors. Their early experiences and vulnerabilities can shape their outcomes later in life.

Who are Canadian youth and where do they live?

Canadian youth in numbers

There are 9 million youth across the country, aged 15 to 34

Chart 1 - Proportion of Canadian youth, by age group, 2016
Description for Chart 1
Proportion of Canadian youth, by age group, 2016
Age category Percentage of youth
Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 and 2016 Census; Population Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories.
15 to 19 23
20 to 24 years 25
25 to 29 years 26
30 to 34 years 26

They currently represent – and will continue to represent – about one-quarter of the country's population...compared with well over one-third in the 1970s.

Between 2006 and 2016, the number of youth aged 25 to 34 increased the most. The number of youth aged 15 to 19 declined.

Did you know?

Similar to other countries, Canada's youth represent a smaller share of the population than in the past.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 and 2016 Census; Population Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories.

Youth's share of the population highest in Western Canada and the North

Canada, Percentage of population aged 15 to 34 in 2016, by census division (CD)
Description for Chart 2
Canada
Percentage of population aged 15 to 34 in 2016, by census division (CD)
Census division (CD) Percentage of population
Keewatin 00100 34.6
Division No. 12 20100 34.2
Region 6 00100 33.9
Baffin 00100 33.7
Kitikmeot 00100 33.6
Region 1 00100 32.2
Division No. 13 00000 32.0
Division No. 16 00000 31.5
Division No. 17 00000 31.4
Region 5 00100 30.8
Region 2 00100 30.7
Yukon 00100 30.7
Division No. 15 01200 30.5
Le Domaine-du-Roy 00000 30.3
Northern Rockies 00100 30.2
Kitimat-Stikine 00100 30.0
Division No. 6 00000 29.9
Division No. 7 00000 29.3
Hastings 00000 29.2
Division No. 11 00000 28.9
Division No. 12 00000 28.8
Pictou 00000 28.6
Division No. 13 00000 28.4
Division No. 13 00000 28.4
Region 3 01200 28.3
Division No. 14 00000 28.2
Fraser-Fort George 00000 28.2
Region 4 01200 28.1
Division No. 2 00000 28.0
Comox Valley 00000 28.0
Longueuil 00000 28.0
Division No. 16 00000 28.0
Division No. 5 00000 27.9
Division No. 8 00000 27.9
Division No. 1 00000 27.9
Division No. 4 00000 27.8
Division No. 1 00100 27.7
Cochrane 00000 27.6
Dufferin 00000 27.5
Prince Edward 00000 27.5
Algoma 20000 27.3
Queens 00000 27.3
Kootenay Boundary 00000 27.3
Division No. 14 00000 27.1
Waterloo 00000 27.1
Mékinac 00000 26.9
La Haute-Côte-Nord 00000 26.9
Montréal 00000 26.7
Greater Sudbury / Grand Sudbury 00000 26.7
Division No. 18 00100 26.7
Skeena-Queen Charlotte 00100 26.6
Division No. 15 00000 26.5
Sudbury 00000 26.2
Peace River 00100 26.0
Stikine 03300 26.0
Peterborough 00000 26.0
Durham 00000 25.9
Division No. 10 00000 25.7
Minganie--Le Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent 00000 25.7
Thérèse-De Blainville 00000 25.7
Maria-Chapdelaine 00000 25.6
Division No. 19 00100 25.6
Saint John 00000 25.4
Frontenac 00000 25.3
Canada 20000 25.3
Les Laurentides 20000 25.1
Charlevoix-Est 00000 25.0
Division No. 16 01100 25.0
Bulkley-Nechako 00100 25.0
Division No. 10 00000 25.0
Division No. 15 00000 24.8
Mount Waddington 00100 24.8
Division No. 3 00000 24.7
Lennox and Addington 00000 24.7
Division No. 5 00000 24.6
Northumberland 00000 24.5
Haldimand-Norfolk 20000 24.4
Division No. 2 00000 24.4
Muskoka 20000 24.4
Division No. 4 00000 24.4
Central Kootenay 00000 24.4
Laval 00000 24.4
Division No. 2 00000 24.3
Cariboo 00100 24.3
Rouville 00000 24.3
Kenora 21100 24.2
Okanagan-Similkameen 00000 24.2
Division No. 8 00000 24.1
Division No. 8 00000 24.1
Division No. 6 00000 24.1
Division No. 20 00000 24.1
Peel 00000 24.0
Division No. 3 00100 24.0
Kamouraska 00000 23.9
Parry Sound 00000 23.9
Colchester 00000 23.9
L'Assomption 00000 23.8
Sunshine Coast 00100 23.8
Gatineau 00000 23.8
Central Coast 01200 23.8
Le Haut-Richelieu 00000 23.8
Richmond 00000 23.8
Westmorland 00000 23.8
Division No. 1 00000 23.7
Chatham-Kent 00000 23.7
Wellington 00000 23.7
La Vallée-de-l'Or 00000 23.7
Halton 00000 23.6
La Vallée-du-Richelieu 00000 23.6
Maskinongé 00000 23.5
Roussillon 20000 23.4
Renfrew 00000 23.4
Powell River 00100 23.4
Division No. 3 00000 23.4
Division No. 2 00000 23.4
Division No. 11 00000 23.4
L'Islet 00000 23.3
Leeds and Grenville 00000 23.2
Middlesex 20000 23.2
Nicolet-Yamaska 00000 23.1
Lévis 00000 23.1
Acton 00000 23.1
Division No. 4 00000 23.0
Marguerite-D'Youville 00000 23.0
York 00000 23.0
D'Autray 00000 23.0
La Haute-Yamaska 00000 23.0
Brome-Missisquoi 00000 22.9
Huron 00000 22.9
Columbia-Shuswap 00000 22.9
Kawartha Lakes 00000 22.8
Papineau 00000 22.7
Les Moulins 00000 22.7
Beauce-Sartigan 00000 22.7
Matawinie 00000 22.7
Division No. 9 00100 22.6
Division No. 22 00100 22.6
Queens 00000 22.5
Charlevoix 00000 22.5
Brant 20000 22.5
Division No. 10 00000 22.4
Thunder Bay 00000 22.4
Le Haut-Saint-François 00000 22.3
Hamilton 00000 22.3
Division No. 6 00000 22.3
L'Île-d'Orléans 00000 22.2
Division No. 17 00100 22.2
Division No. 7 00000 22.1
Rouyn-Noranda 00000 22.1
Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry 00000 22.0
Division No. 7 00000 22.0
Le Saguenay-et-son-Fjord 00000 22.0
Pierre-De Saurel 00000 22.0
Toronto 00000 22.0
Drummond 00000 21.9
Le Rocher-Percé 00000 21.9
Montcalm 00000 21.9
Niagara 00000 21.9
Division No. 18 00100 21.9
Manitoulin 00100 21.9
Division No. 11 01100 21.9
Halifax 00000 21.8
Perth 00000 21.8
Division No. 23 01200 21.6
Shawinigan 00000 21.5
Division No. 17 00100 21.5
Haliburton 00000 21.5
Arthabaska 00000 21.5
Les Appalaches 00000 21.5
Charlotte 00000 21.5
Lac-Saint-Jean-Est 00000 21.3
Les Collines-de-l'Outaouais 00000 21.3
Antigonish 00000 21.3
Inverness 00000 21.3
Les Basques 00000 21.3
North Okanagan 00000 21.3
Coaticook 00000 21.2
Capital 20000 21.2
Prince 00000 21.2
Division No. 9 00000 21.2
Division No. 4 00000 21.1
Mirabel 00000 21.0
La Tuque 00000 21.0
Témiscamingue 00000 21.0
Nipissing 00000 20.9
Abitibi 00000 20.9
Division No. 14 00000 20.9
Kings 00000 20.9
Division No. 1 00000 20.9
Division No. 9 00000 20.8
Oxford 00000 20.8
Montmagny 00000 20.8
La Haute-Gaspésie 00000 20.8
Les Sources 00000 20.7
Kings 00000 20.7
Division No. 3 00000 20.7
Québec 00000 20.7
Central Okanagan 00000 20.7
Rainy River 00000 20.5
Portneuf 00000 20.4
Nord-du-Québec 01100 20.4
Sept-Rivières--Caniapiscau 00000 20.4
Division No. 5 00000 20.4
Le Granit 00000 20.4
Elgin 00000 20.4
La Vallée-de-la-Gatineau 20000 20.3
Antoine-Labelle 00000 20.3
La Nouvelle-Beauce 00000 20.3
Joliette 00000 20.2
Division No. 11 00000 20.1
Le Val-Saint-François 00000 20.1
Cowichan Valley 00000 20.0
Division No. 6 00000 19.9
Lanark 00000 19.8
Greater Vancouver 00000 19.8
Lotbinière 00000 19.8
Division No. 12 00000 19.8
Essex 00000 19.7
Squamish-Lillooet 00100 19.7
Manicouagan 00000 19.6
Les Pays-d'en-Haut 00000 19.6
Témiscouata 00000 19.5
Argenteuil 00000 19.5
Cumberland 00000 19.4
Division No. 21 01100 19.3
Les Jardins-de-Napierville 00000 19.3
Yarmouth 00000 19.2
Bécancour 00000 19.2
Thompson-Nicola 00000 19.1
Victoria 00000 19.1
Madawaska 00000 19.1
Grey 00000 19.0
Sunbury 00000 19.0
Pontiac 00000 18.9
Ottawa 00000 18.9
Memphrémagog 00000 18.8
Simcoe 00000 18.8
Division No. 18 00100 18.7
Fraser Valley 00000 18.7
York 00000 18.7
Annapolis 00000 18.6
Restigouche 00000 18.6
Nanaimo 00000 18.6
Les Etchemins 00000 18.6
Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine 00000 18.5
Queens 00000 18.4
Rimouski-Neigette 00000 18.4
Division No. 5 00000 18.3
Shelburne 00000 18.3
Sherbrooke 00000 18.3
Kings 00000 18.2
Deux-Montagnes 20000 18.2
Avignon 00000 18.1
Bellechasse 00000 18.1
La Rivière-du-Nord 00000 18.0
Cape Breton 00000 18.0
La Jacques-Cartier 00000 17.9
Albert 00000 17.9
La Côte-de-Beaupré 00000 17.9
Division No. 19 00000 17.8
Gloucester 00000 17.7
La Matapédia 00000 17.7
Division No. 10 00000 17.6
Timiskaming 00000 17.6
Bruce 00000 17.5
Beauharnois-Salaberry 00000 17.5
Hants 00000 17.4
Abitibi-Ouest 00000 17.4
Victoria 00000 17.4
Francheville 00000 17.3
Division No. 9 00000 17.1
Division No. 7 00000 17.1
La Mitis 00000 17.1
Lunenburg 00000 17.1
Matane 00000 17.1
Kent 00000 17.1
Vaudreuil-Soulanges 00000 17.1
Les Maskoutains 00000 17.0
L'Érable 00000 16.9
Prescott and Russell 00000 16.8
East Kootenay 00000 16.8
Bonaventure 00000 16.8
Alberni-Clayoquot 00100 16.6
Carleton 00000 16.5
Rivière-du-Loup 00000 16.2
Division No. 8 00000 16.1
Northumberland 00000 15.9
Guysborough 00000 15.8
Strathcona 00000 15.2
Lambton 00000 15.0
Le Haut-Saint-Laurent 00000 14.9
La Côte-de-Gaspé 00000 14.6
Digby 00000 14.4
Robert-Cliche 00000 14.3
% of youth aged 15 to 34 who do not live in a town or large urban centre, by province, 2016
Description for Chart 3
% of youth aged 15 to 34 who do not live in a townTable note 1 or large urban centreTable note 2, by province, 2016
Province Percentage of youth
Source: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census
Canada 14.1
N-L 38.0
PEI 36.1
NS 28.1
NB 33.5
QC 15.8
ON 8.5
MN 26.3
SK 30.5
AB 15.7
BC 9.0
YT 18.0
NWT 52.0
NV 100.0

Youth are highly diverse...along many dimensions

In 2016, 27% of youth aged 15 to 34 identified themselves as a member of a visible minority group, compared with 13% in 1996.

% of persons who belong to a visible minority group
Description for Chart 4
% of persons who belong to a visible minority group
  1996 2016
Sources: Statistics Canada, 1996 and 2016 Census; General Social Survey on Social Identity, 2013.
Age 15 to 34 13.2 27
Age 65 or older 5.9 12.6
Proportion of youth aged 15 to 34 who belong to a visible minority group, selected CMAs, 2016
Description for Chart 5
Proportion of youth aged 15 to 34 who belong to a visible minority group, selected CMAs, 2016
  %
Sources: Statistics Canada, 1996 and 2016 Census; General Social Survey on Social Identity, 2013.
Saguenay 2.2
Québec 6.9
Halifax 16.6
Montreal 26.9
Calgary 35.4
Vancouver 53.6
Toronto 56.3

Did you know?

Almost 75% of youth have friends from another ethnic group.

In 2016, 76% of youth in Toronto were immigrants (1st generation) or had at least one parent who is an immigrant (2nd generation).

The generational status of youth aged 15 to 34, Canada and selected CMAs
Description for Chart 6
The generational status of youth aged 15 to 34, Canada and selected CMAs
  First generation Second generation Third generation or more
Sources: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census; General Social Survey on Canadians at Work and Home, 2016; Canadian Survey on Disability, 2012
Canada 22.3% 18.9% 58.8%
Montréal 25.2% 19.0% 55.8%
Toronto 41.1% 34.8% 24.1%
Vancouver 40.2% 28.6% 31.1%
About 4% to 10% of Canadian youth consider themselves to be either homosexual or bisexual
Description for Chart 7
About 4% to 10% of Canadian youth consider themselves to be either homosexual or bisexual
  Men Women
Age
15-24 25-34 35-54 15-24 25-34 35-54
Sources: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census; General Social Survey on Canadians at Work and Home, 2016;
Homosexual 2.9% 3.2% 2.2% 2.7% 1.3% 0.9%
Bisexual 2.9% 1.1% 1.0% 7.1% 3.5% 1.1%
Don't know 2.1% 0.9% 0.8% 1.3% 3.3% 1.2%

433,880 youth aged 15 to 34 – or 4.8% – report that they have a disability

Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Survey on Disability, 2012

The number of young Indigenous people is growing

From 2006 to 2016, the number of First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth aged 15 to 34 increased by 39%, compared to just over 6% for non-Indigenous youth.

Percent increase in number of youth, aged 15 to 34, by Indigenous identity, 2006 to 2016
Description for Chart 8
Percent increase in number of youth, aged 15 to 34, by Indigenous identity, 2006 to 2016
%
Sources: Statistics Canada, 2006 and 2016 Census
First Nations 40.1
Métis 41.5
Inuit 24.5
Non-Indigenous 6.5
Proportion of youth aged 15 to 34 who are First Nations, Métis or Inuit, selected CMAs, 2016
Description for Chart 9
Proportion of youth aged 15 to 34 who are First Nations, Métis or Inuit, selected CMAs, 2016
  %
Sources: Statistics Canada, 2006 and 2016 Census.
Toronto 1.0
Vancouver 3.1
Canada 5.9
Edmonton 6.9
Regina 11.1
Saskatoon 12.9
Winnipeg 14.4
Thunder Bay 17.0

More youth are living with their parents

In 2016, 35% of young adults, 20 to 34, were living with their parents, up from 31% in 2001. The increase was largest for youth aged 25 to 29.

More youth are living with their parents
Location Percent (%)
Source: Statistics Canada, 2001 and 2016 Census
Toronto 47.4
Hamilton 44.5
Vancouver 38.6
Canada 34.7
Montréal 33.1
Calgary 28.5
Québec 23.8

What are Canadian youth doing?

Youth are more connected than any other generation

  • Nearly 100% of youth aged 15 to 24 use the Internet on a daily basis or own their own smartphone – broadly similar across all provinces and across all household income groups.
  • More than three quarters of youth aged 15 to 34 use the Internet to follow news and current affairs – more than twice the rate among older Canadians.
  • One half of youth aged 25 to 34 conduct transactions on the Internet at least weekly – almost twice that of older Canadians.
  • Nearly half of 16 to 24 year olds participate in real-time discussions on the Internet, compared with less than 10% of older Canadians.
Virtually all youth aged 15 to 24 use social networking sites
Description for Chart 10
Virtually all youth aged 15 to 24 use social networking sites
  percent
† reference category
* significantly different from reference category
Note: Includes only those that reported using the Internet.
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2013.
15 to 24† 96
25 to 34 87*
35 to 44 76*
45 to 54 58*
55 to 64 52*
65+ 36*

But higher technology use also brings new challenges

15% of youth aged 15 to 34 said they were cyberbullied or cyberstalked in the past 5 years

Sources: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey on Canadian at Work and Home, 2016; General Social Survey on Canadians' Safety (Victimization), 2014; General Social Survey on Social Identity, 2013; Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2012

Youth are less likely to vote but are still socially and civically engaged

Giving, volunteering and participating

  • 69% of 15 to 24 years olds are members of a group, organization or association, compared with 65% for the overall Canadian population.
  • 66% of youth aged 15 to 19 volunteer, as do 42% of youth aged 20 to 34.
  • 81% of those aged 25 to 34 said they gave to a charitable or non-profit organization.
  • Youth have confidence in public institutions – 50% of youth aged 15 to 24 have confidence in Canadian Parliament, compared with 37% for the general population.
Voting rates in federal elections by age group, 2011 and 2015
Description for Chart 11
Voting rates in federal elections by age group, 2011 and 2015
  2011 2015
Sources: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey on Giving, Volunteering and Participating, 2013; General Social Survey on Social Engagement, 2003; General Social Survey on Social Identity, 2013; Elections Canada, Estimation of Voter Turnout by Age Group and Gender at the General Election, 2011 and 2015
18 to 24 38.8 57.1
25 to 34 45.1 57.4
35 to 44 54.5 61.9
45 to 54 64.5 66.6
55 to 64 71.5 73.7
65 to 74 75.1 78.8
75 and over 60.3 67.4

Did you know?

The proportion of young people aged 15 to 34, who stated that they rarely or never followed news and current affairs, almost doubled, from 11% in 2003 to 21% in 2013.

Youth aged 15 to 34 contribute 29% of all volunteer hours in Canada.

Youth participate actively in sports, arts and cultural activities

Participation in sports activities during past 12 months
Description for Chart 12
Participation in sports activities during past 12 months
  Percent who actively participated in sports during past 12 months, by age
15-19 20-34 35-54 55 or older
Low household income (<$60,000) 55.1 23.4 17.1 10.0
Moderate household income ($60,000-$139,999) 60.2 34.4 27.3 20.4
High household income ($140,000 or more) 46.6 43.9 32.9 32.7
Sources: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey on Canadians at Work and Home, 2016
Participation in arts/culture activities during past 12 months
Description for Chart 13
Participation in arts/culture activities during past 12 months
  Percent who actively participated in arts/culture activity during past 12 months, by age
15-19 20-34 35-54 55 or older
Low household income (<$60,000) 67.7 53.5 48.6 45.7
Moderate household income ($60,000-$139,999) 65.5 55.5 44.3 48.6
High household income ($140,000 or more) 73.4 58.2 47.1 51.0
Sources: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey on Canadians at Work and Home, 2016

Youth are more educated than ever

  • 97% of 15 year olds attend school
  • 5% of 21 year olds enroll in apprenticeship programs
  • 24% of 19 year olds in college
  • 36% of 21 year olds at university
Percentage of youth, 25-34, with a college certificate/diploma or Bachelor's degree
Description for Chart 14
Percentage of youth, 25-34, with a college certificate/diploma or Bachelor's degree
  Men Women
College BA or higher College BA or higher
1990 14.6 15.2 18.6 14.7
1997 20.5 18.6 26.7 21.2
2007 23.2 23.8 30.5 32.1
2017 22.2 29.3 27.7 41.8
Sources: Statistics Canada, Education Indicators in Canada: Report of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program September 2017 and Labour Force Survey, 1990 to 2016; National Household Survey, 2011.

Did you know?

A large gap in postsecondary enrolment remains between youth from lower and higher income families. Non-financial factors, such as academic performance and parental education, play a significant role.

In 2016, 9% of men and 5% of women aged 25 to 34 had not completed high school, compared to 22% and 19%, respectively, in 1990. In 2011, 31% of Indigenous men and 25% of Indigenous women had not completed high school.

Young men and women continue to enter different types of programs and fields of study

Selected major field of study among university students, 2014/2015
Description for Chart 15
Selected major field of study among university students, 2014/2015
  Women Men
%
Sources: Statistics Canada, Postsecondary Student Information System, 2014-2015. Statistics Canada, Postsecondary Student Information System, 1992/93 and 2014/15; Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2012
Mathematics & Computer Science 1.7 5.8
Engineering & Architecture 3.9 17.3
Education 8.7 3.6
Physical & Life Sciences 9.2 10.0
Humanities 13.6 11.4
Health 15.0 8.4
Business Mgmt & Public Admin. 16.8 20.0
Social Sciences 20.0 13.6
Change in major fields of study undertaken by university students, 1992/93 to 2014/2015
Description for Chart 16
Change in major fields of study undertaken by university students, 1992/93 to 2014/2015
Men Women
percentage points
Social sciences -1.3 1.9
Business Management and Public Administration 3.6 2.1
Health 1.8 6.0
Humanities -3.2 -4.9
Physical and life sciences 0.3 2.1
Education -2.2 -4.4
Engineering and Architecture 4.0 1.5
Mathematics and Computer Science 0.2 -0.3
Sources: Statistics Canada, Postsecondary Student Information System, 2014-2015. Statistics Canada, Postsecondary Student Information System, 1992/93 and 2014/15; Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, 2012

Did you know?

Literacy and numeracy scores are higher among 25 to 34 year olds than any other age group.

Lifetime earnings vary considerably across educational attainment and fields of study

Among youth from the early 1990s, average cumulative earnings through their thirties and forties were over $700,000 higher among men with a bachelor's degree than among men with a high school diploma.

Among women, the difference was $442,000.

These results varied significantly by field of study:

  • Men with an engineering degree made over 50% more than men with a degree in the humanities.
  • Women in mathematics, physical sciences and business administration made 25% more than women in the social sciences.
Median cumulative earnings over 20 years among an early 1990s cohort of bachelor degree holders, by sex and selected fields of study
Description for Chart 17
Median cumulative earnings over 20 years among an early 1990s cohort of bachelor degree holders, by sex and selected fields of study
  Women Men
Sources: Statistics Canada, Longitudinal Worker File and 1991 Census.
Humanities $808,200 $1,144,600
Education $1,044,600 $1,290,400
Social Sciences $824,300 $1,358,900
Mathematic & Physical Sciences $1,148,700 $1,607,500
Business Administration $1,169,100 $1,619,400
Health $1,094,000 $1,627,600
Engineering $972,600 $1,845,000

Costs of education have increased and many graduates continue to be burdened with debt

  • Tuition fees for full-time undergraduate students increased faster than the rate of inflation over the last decade.
  • Average tuition fees for full-time Canadian undergraduate students are lowest in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador and highest in Prince Edward Island and Ontario.
  • 50% of youth graduating with a bachelor's degree have student debts, similar to the early 2000s.
Percentage of graduates with student debts and average debt at graduation among those with debt
Description for Chart 18
Percentage of graduates with student debts and average debt at graduation among those with debt
  College Bachelors' degree Doctorate
Sources: Statistics Canada, Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs, 2006/2007 to 2016/2017; National Graduates Survey, 2013, class of 2009/10; and National Graduate Survey of 2002, class of 2000.
Percentage of graduates with student debts 43% 50% 41%
Average debt at graduation $14,900 $26,300 $41,100

How are Canadian youth doing?

Fewer young men in full-time or permanent jobs...resulting in lower earnings at the middle and lower end of the earnings distribution

Percentage of youth population employed full-time
Description for Chart 19
Percentage of youth population employed full-time
  1976 2017
Note: Full-time students excluded. Full-time employment refers to 30 hours of work or more per week.
Source: General Social Survey of 1989 and Labour Force Survey (March and September files)
Men 25-34 90.7 81.6
Women 25-34 40.9 67.2
Temporary employment among full-time employees
Description for Chart 20
Temporary employment among full-time employees
  1989 2017
Note: Full-time students excluded. Full-time employment refers to 30 hours of work or more per week.
Source: General Social Survey of 1989 and Labour Force Survey (March and September files)
Men 25-34 4.8 10.9
Women 25-34 3.0 11.9

Did you know?

The percentage of young women employed full-time rose because of their growing labour force participation.

Cumulative earnings from age 28 to age 39, selected cohorts - Young men
Description for Chart 21
Cumulative earnings from age 28 to age 39, selected cohorts - Young men
  25th percentile 50th percentile 75th percentile
Source: Source: Statistics Canada Longitudinal Worker File.
1978-1989 397,435 637,327 847,450
1986-1997 317,489 565,978 795,767
1996-2007 312,567 547,548 805,800
2002-2013 327,486 576,889 863,941

Did you know?

Young men and women at the top of the earnings distribution are faring better than ever.

Cumulative earnings from age 28 to age 39, selected cohorts - Young women
Description for Chart 22
Cumulative earnings from age 28 to age 39, selected cohorts - Young women
  25th percentile 50th percentile 75th percentile
Source: Source: Statistics Canada Longitudinal Worker File.
1978-1989 160,564 345,545 532,732
1986-1997 163,161 345,499 533,387
1996-2007 184,938 371,346 583,957
2002-2013 199,073 395,382 633,561

Did you know?

In contrast to young men, young women have significantly increased their annual hours of work and moved to better-paid occupations, resulting in higher cumulative earnings.

Some of the occupations in which youth are working

Among employed women aged 25 to 34...

  • ...about 30% work in professional occupations, such as nurses, teachers and accountants
  • ...about 15% work in technical and paraprofessional occupations, such as paralegals and health technicians
  • ...about 17% work in administrative occupations, such as office administrators
  • ...and about 19% work in personal and customer service occupations, such as food and beverage servers and information services representatives

Among employed men aged 25 to 34...

  • ...about 20% work in professional occupations, such as computers and IT professionals, accountants and engineers
  • ...about 10% work in technical and paraprofessional occupations, such as computer tech support, firefighters and police officers
  • ...about 18% work in industrial and construction occupations, such as electricians, carpenters and mechanics
  • ...and about 11% work in personal and customer service occupations, such as cooks and food and beverage servers

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, 2016

Some groups are more likely to be overqualified than others

Proportion of youth aged 25 to 34 with a university degree working in occupations requiring high school education or less
Description for Chart 23
Proportion of youth aged 25 to 34 with a university degree working in occupations requiring high school education or less
  Percentage
All men 17.7
All women 18.3
Immigrant men with a degree from outside Canada or the U.S. 34.8
Immigrant women with a degree from outside Canada or the U.S. 43.0
Source: Source: Statistics Canada, National Household Survey, 2011.

Low-income rates among Canadians aged 25 to 34

Persons aged 25 to 34
  Percent (%)
Total 12.7
Not residing with any family members 20.4
Aboriginal people off-reserve 24.3
With a disability 29.4

Did you know?

In 2014, 10.5% of young Canadians aged 25 to 34 and 4.8% of Canadians aged 15 to 24 reported that they had ever temporarily lived with family, friends, in their car, or anywhere else because they had nowhere else to live–a situation referred to as ‘hidden' or ‘concealed' homelessness.

Note: Results are based on the low income measure after tax (LIM-AT)

Percent of youth aged 25 to 34 in low-income for five consecutive years
Description for Chart 24
Percent of youth aged 25 to 34 in low-income for five consecutive years
  2000 2012
Note: results are based on the low income measure after tax (LIM-AT).
Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Income Survey, 2015; General Social Survey on Canadians' Safety (Victimization), 2014; Longitudinal Immigration Database.
Immigrants in Canada 5 to 10 years 14% 9%
Canadian-born & Immigrants in Canada more than 20 years 7% 4%

Homeownership among youth recently declined for the first time in 20 years

  • Homeownership among younger adults aged 20 to 34 remained significantly lower than for older Canadians.
  • Between 2006 and 2016, homeownership rates across all age groups, except for those aged 65 years old and over declined. This follows several decades of gradual increase. The decline was largest for younger adults, particularly over the past 5 years.
  • Coincides with other broader trends such as the rising share of youth who are living with their parents, delays in starting a family, and the increase in housing costs.
Homeownership rates by selected age groups, 2006 to 2016
Description for Chart 25
Homeownership rates by selected age groups, 2006 to 2016
  2006 2011 2016
Sources: Statistics Canada, National Household Survey, 2011; Census of Population, 2006 and 2016.
20 to 34 years old 45.7 47.3 43.6
35 to 54 years old 72.5 72.3 70.1
55 to 64 years old 77.7 77.1 76.3
65 years old and over 72.2 73.6 74.6

One-third of youth with a severe disability say they have been refused a job because of their condition

Proportion of persons with disabilities who have been refused a job because of their condition, by age groups and severity of disability, 2012
Description for Chart 26
Proportion of persons with disabilities who have been refused a job because of their condition, by age groups and severity of disability, 2012
  Mild or moderate disability Severe or very severe disability
25 to 34 13 33
35 to 44 11 23
45 to 54 7 16
55 to 64 4 13
Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Survey on Disability, 2012.

Youth aged 15 to 24 are more likely to report that they experienced discrimination

Proportion of individuals who reported that they experienced discrimination in the past 5 years, 2014
Description for Chart 27
Proportion of individuals who reported that they experienced discrimination in the past 5 years, 2014
  15 to 34 35+
All population 17.5 11.5
Women 20.3 12.0
Visible minorities 22.5 18.2
With a disability 33.3 18.1
LGB (18+ only) 48.6 23.1
Sources: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey on Canadians' Safety (Victimization), 2014; Canadian Community Health Survey, 2016.

Did you know?

In 2016, 16% of young men and 12% of young women reported experiencing at least one aspect of social isolation. Results were broadly similar across all youth and compared with adults aged 35 to 55.

Some young men and women face serious mental health problems

  • Rates of mood disorders are highest among youth aged 15 to 24 compared to other age groups; young women in particular have the highest rate (10%)
  • Approximately 50% of youth who have experienced mood disorder have also had suicidal thoughts in their lifetime
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 15 to 24
    • 14.7 deaths per 100,000 for young men
    • 5.8 deaths per 100,000 for young women
  • Less than half of youth with depression or suicidal thoughts have sought professional support

Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey Mental Health, 2012; Vital Statistics, 2014

Indigenous youth are particularly at risk for poor mental health

  • 11.0% of off-reserve First Nations and 7.8% of Métis youth report having a mood disorder
  • Rates of acute-care hospitalizations for intentional self-harm are high among indigenous youth aged 10 to 19
    • 42 per 100,000 for First Nations youth living on reserve
    • 26 per 100,000 for First Nations youth living off reserve
    • 20 per 100,000 for Métis youth
    • 101 per 100,000 for Inuit youth living in Inuit Nunangat

Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, 2011-2014; Census of Population, 2006; CIHI Discharge Abstract Database, 2006-2009.

High rates of obesity and physical inactivity put youth at risk for heart disease later in life

The share of youth 18-34 who are overweight or obese increased significantly since the late 1970s—from 29% to about 45% in the early 2000s. The share has remained stable over the last decade.

Youth are also not meeting physical activity guidelines—only 1 in 6 are meeting the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

Only 25% of young men and 37% of young women (aged 18-34) consume the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

These factors are potentially putting youth at risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.

Based on a new CanHeart Index which measures risk factors for heart disease including diet, weight and physical activity, approximately 1 in 4 youth aged 20-29 rank as having poor heart health.

Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey; Canadian Health Measures Survey

Drinking, smoking, and cannabis use by young people have generally declined...but new challenges are emerging

  • Smoking rates for both young men and women have dropped significantly since the early 2000s.
  • Heavy drinking by young men has also declined, but has increased for young women.
  • While cannabis use is still generally higher among youth compared to older Canadians, it has generally decreased for youth.

Today's youth are dealing with the challenges of new drugs and addictions

  • Opioid-related hospitalization rates rise fastest among youth.
  • Rate of hospital based opioid events increased by 53% over the last decade – most of the increase in the last 3 years (CIHI, 2017).
  • Rates of opioid related hospitalizations are up to 7 times higher among Indigenous youth and 5 times higher among lower income households.

Opioid hospitalizations by income

Rate of opioid hospitalizations (per 100,000) among youth aged 15 to 19 by level of household income, 2006-2008
Description for Chart 28
Rate of opioid hospitalizations (per 100,000) among youth aged 15 to 19 by level of household income, 2006-2008
Household income Rate of hospitalization
1 (lowest) 11.9
2 8.7
3 5.4
4 5.5
5 (highest) 2.1
Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey; Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey, 2004-2012; Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, 2013-2015; Census of Population, CIHI Discharge Abstract Database.

Did you know?

Daily or occasional smoking dropped from over one third of young men aged 18 to 34 in 2003 to about one quarter in 2016. For young women, about 18% reported smoking in 2016 compared to 27% in 2003. Heavy drinking for males aged 20 to 34 was 35% in 2016, down from almost 40% in 2003. Heavy drinking for young women increased from 17% in 2003 to 23% in 2016.

Youth are more likely to commit crimes...but also more likely to be victims of violent crimes

Rate of persons per 100,000 population accused of selected offences, by age group of accused and offence type
Description for Chart 29
Rate of persons per 100,000 population accused of selected offences, by age group of accused and offence type
  Older adults aged 25 and older Young adults aged 18 to 24 Youth aged 12 to 17
Other federal statute violations 25 71 221
Drug offences 215 1,108 657
Criminal Code traffic violations 252 506 53
Other Criminal Code offences 699 1,945 918
Property crime 701 1,959 2,124
Violent crime 649 1,524 1,281
Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, 2014. General Social Survey (Victimization), 2014.
Rate of violent victimization per 1,000 population, by age group of victim, 2014
Description for Chart 30
Rate of violent victimization per 1,000 population, by age group of victim, 2014
Age Rate per 1,000 population
15 to 19 155
20 to 24 170
25 to 29 150
30 to 34 86
35 to 39 80
40 to 44 56
45 to 49 82
50 to 54 57
55 to 59 49
60 to 64 24
65 to 69 17
70 or older 10
Note: Violent victimization includes sexual assault, robbery and physical assault.
Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, 2014. General Social Survey (Victimization), 2014.

What's next?

Not the end of the story...let's talk

  • Canada's youth continue to be a large and important group within the Canadian population.
  • In many ways they are very different from younger generations before them...and from their parents and grandparents today.
  • They are more diverse, educated, and connected and socially engaged than past youth, and in many ways are well positioned to succeed in today's complex global society.
  • But not all young people are sharing these benefits. Some youth are unemployed or are in temporary jobs. Some are struggling with mental health challenges, addictions, and homelessness. And not everyone feels included.
  • Statistics Canada wants to hear from you:
    • Did we get this portrait of Canada's youth right? Are there parts of the story that are missing or more complicated?
    • Contact us to share your thoughts and ideas to help us provide the information needed to make good decisions.
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