Chapter 3. Age structure

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This section compares the age structure of French-speaking immigrants with that of Canadian-born Francophones and non-Francophone immigrants. It examines the situation in detail according to five-year age groups in the 2006 Census and the recent evolution of three major age groupings.

The age structure of French-speaking immigrants is comparable to that of other immigrants. One of its features is a relatively small population at the youngest ages. Among Canadian-born Francophones, 0 to 9 year-olds constituted 7.8% of the total population in the 2006 Census, while their relative weight was only 3.5% in the case of Francophone immigrants and 2.6% in the case of non-Francophone immigrants (chart 3.1a). Conversely, the population is proportionally larger at adult ages, both among immigrants and among Canadian-born Francophones. However, as may be seen, the age structure of Francophone immigrants differs from that of the other two groups in two respects. First, the age distribution curve rises toward 10 to 19 years. At these ages, the percentage of Francophone immigrants is much higher than that of other immigrants. Second, while the differences are less pronounced, the percentage of French-speaking immigrants at older ages (50 and over) is lower than among other immigrants and Canadian-born Francophones. The explanation for these differences seems to lie in the quite specific age structure of French-English first official language spoken immigrants.

Chart 3.1a Immigrant and non immigrant population according to the first official language spoken before redistribution of the the French-English category by age group, Canada less Quebec

A comparison of the age structures of French FOLS immigrants and French-English FOLS immigrants reveals that the latter group has one characteristic that differentiates its markedly from the former: it has a very large proportion of youths aged 10 to 24 (chart 3.1b). More than 19% of the population of French-English FOLS immigrants fall into this age range, compared to 8% for French FOLS immigrants. But this characteristic is not specific to French-English FOLS immigrants. The same phenomenon is observed in the Canadian-born group, where moreover it is extended to the 0 to 4 and 20 to 24 age groups. Persons aged 0 to 24 constitute no less than 72% of the total population of Canadian-born, French-English FOLS persons in the 2006 Census, whereas the corresponding percentage is 23% for Canadian-born French FOLS persons, 16% for French FOLS immigrants and 31% for French-English FOLS immigrants. On the other hand, the percentage of persons aged 65 and over is 5% for the Canadian-born French-English FOLS group, and it ranges around 20% for the other groups defined according to first official language spoken. However, it should be noted that the consequences of this phenomenon are minimal after redistribution of the French-English category among the Canadian-born, since the Canadian-born group with a double official language (French-English FOLS) constitutes only a small proportion (less than 4%) of all Canadian-born Francophones. The situation is different for immigrants, since French-English FOLS immigrants, outside Quebec, are more numerous than French FOLS immigrants.

Chart 3.1b Immigrant population according to the first official language spoken before redistribution of the the French-English category by age group, Canada less Quebec

The change in the age structure between 1991 and 2006 varied according to both the major age grouping considered and the group defined by first official language spoken (FOLS) and immigrant status. A decrease in both the number and percentage of 0 to 19 year-olds is observed in the French-speaking Canadian-born group (table 3.1). Their numbers decreased by 38,000 in 15 years, while their relative weight within the total population went from 22% to 18%. The trend is reversed for the other two groups, especially Francophone immigrants. These saw their population aged 0 to 19 more than double during the period, going from 7,000 to 16,000, while its percentage went from 12% to 16%. Among non-Francophone immigrants, the relative weight of 0 to 19 year-olds within the total population remained stable at around 9% despite the sizable increase in their numbers, which rose by 160,000 (an absolute increase of more than one-half).

Table 3.1 Immigrant and non immigrant population according to the first official language spoken after redistribution of the French-English category by major age grouping, Canada less Quebec

The adult population aged 20 to 64 increased in absolute numbers in all groups, although its relative weight within the total population remained stable in the French-speaking Canadian-born group and declined in the two immigrant groups. In terms of numbers, the population of Francophone immigrants aged 20 to 64 increased by more than half between the 1991 and 2006 censuses, while the number of persons in that age range within the non-Francophone immigrant population grew by 37% and slightly decreased in the French-speaking Canadian-born population.

The population of persons aged 65 and over grew substantially in all three groups. Between 1991 and 2006, the number of persons in this age group grew by 33% among Francophone native-born Canadians, compared to 67% among French-speaking immigrants and 60% among non-Francophone immigrants. As a result, there was an aging of the population (that is, an increase in the proportion of elderly persons within the total population) among Canadian-born Francophones and among non-Francophone immigrants, but not among French-speaking immigrants, for whom the percentage of persons aged 65 and over remained stable at approximately 15% between 1991 and 2006. The aging was most rapid among the Canadian-born Francophones, with the proportion of elderly persons going from 12% in 1991 to 16% in 2006. However, of all three groups, non-Francophone immigrants had the largest proportion of persons 65 and over, in the last four censuses: seniors constituted 18% of that group in 1991 and 20% in 2006.

In summary, the Francophone immigrant population appears to be a fairly young population (characterized by a large proportion of 0 to 19 year-olds) when compared to non-Francophone immigrants. This characteristic may be explained in part by the quite particular age composition of the French-English FOLS immigrant population. That population has a large proportion of youths aged 10 to 24, a much higher proportion than for French FOLS immigrants and non-Francophone immigrants. It is worth noting that this characteristic is also observed among French-English FOLS persons born in Canada.

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