Age and sex structure: Subprovincial, 2010

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by Patrick Charbonneau, Geneviève Ouellet and Anne Milan

This section on the age and sex structure of the different regions of Canada (subprovincial level) examines the indicators of median age—the age at which half the population is older and half is younger—as well as the distribution of the population at particular age groups, especially seniors aged 65 years and over and children aged 14 years and under.

On July 1, 2010 Canada had a median age of 39.7 years. At the subprovincial level, however, some areas had a median age that was either younger or older than that of the country overall (Figure 1). Census divisions with younger median ages generally had large Aboriginal populations. Six of the seven youngest census divisions were in Nunavut and Manitoba, with the youngest being Keewatin, Nunavut with a median age of 22.7 years. Because of the Aboriginal population's higher fertility rate, young people accounted for a substantial share of the population, which kept the median age low. In contrast, some areas had median ages that were much older than the total Canadian population, sometimes exceeding 50 years. The oldest census division was Mékinac, Quebec which had a median age of 51.9 years. Net out-migration of younger people and/or net in-migration of older people contributed to the rate of population aging in some census divisions.

Figure 1 Median age as of July 1, 2010 by census division (CD), Canada

Census metropolitan areas are aging, but more slowly than the rest of Canada

Compared with a median age of 39.7 years for Canada as a whole on July 1, 2010, the median age for the population living in one of Canada's 33 census metropolitan areas was 38.7 years and in non-census metropolitan areas it was 42.3 years (Table 1). Although aging affects all parts of Canada, it is not occurring uniformly across the country. For example, the population was aging faster in non-census metropolitan areas than in census metropolitan areas, given that the increase in the median age since July 1, 2001 was twice as large in non-census metropolitan areas (+4.1 years) as in census metropolitan areas (+2.0 years).

Table 1 Percentage of population aged 14 years and under, 15 to 64 years and 65 years and over and median age, census metropolitan areas, July 1, 2010

Similar to demographic growth, there also appeared to be an East-West divide in the relative age of census metropolitan areas: the younger census metropolitan areas were mostly in Western Canada, while the census metropolitan areas with older populations were generally in the eastern part of the country.

On July 1, 2010, Saskatoon was the census metropolitan area with the youngest population (35.4 years) followed by Calgary (35.8 years), Edmonton (36.0 years) and Regina (36.9 years). Between July 1, 2001, and July 1, 2010, there was very little increase in the median ages of Saskatchewan's two census metropolitan areas. The increase was just 0.8 years for Saskatoon and 0.9 years for Regina. Edmonton was the only other Canadian census metropolitan area with an increase of less than one year in its median age. In each of the three census metropolitan areas, there were far more births than deaths. They also posted net gains in international, interprovincial and subprovincial migration. This was beneficial in every respect, helping to slow the population aging process.

Census metropolitan areas with young median ages also tended to have higher percentages of children. The census metropolitan areas with the highest percentages of the population aged 14 years and under were Abbotsford-Mission (18.3%), Oshawa (18.1%), Brantford (17.9%), and Calgary and Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo (each with 17.8%), higher than the national average of 16.5%.

The median age in the Saguenay and Trois-Rivières census metropolitan areas was 45.0 years, higher than in any other Canadian census metropolitan area. Comparing the population pyramids for Saguenay, one of the oldest populations, and Saskatoon, the census metropolitan area with the youngest age structure, is particularly striking (Figure 2). In addition to Saguenay and Trois-Rivières, the Québec and Sherbrooke census metropolitan areas had median ages above the Canadian average. The only census metropolitan areas in Quebec with median ages below the national average were Montréal and Ottawa-Gatineau.1 In the Atlantic Provinces, three of the four census metropolitan areas had median ages higher than the Canadian average. The only exception was the Halifax census metropolitan area, whose median age was slightly lower (39.3 years) than the median age for Canada as a whole. In addition to having relatively high median ages, the Saguenay, Thunder Bay and Peterborough census metropolitan areas are also noteworthy for the pace at which they were aging. Between July 1, 2001, and July 1, 2010, the median age increased by 5.5 years in Saguenay, 4.7 years in Thunder Bay and 4.3 years in Peterborough. All three census metropolitan areas had fairly small populations; in fact, Peterborough and Thunder Bay were the least populous census metropolitan areas. Moreover, in both census metropolitan areas, there were more deaths than births, a sign of more rapid aging.

Figure 2 Population pyramid for the census metropolitan areas with the highest median age (Saguenay, Quebec) and with the lowest median age (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) for July 1, 2010

Census metropolitan areas with older median ages also tended to have higher shares of seniors. The census metropolitan areas with highest percentages of the population aged 65 years and over were Peterborough (19.4%), Trois-Rivières (18.7%), Kelowna (18.5%) and Victoria (18.1%). For Canada overall, 14.1% of the population were seniors on July 1, 2010.

Older census metropolitan areas also have a tendency to have more females in their populations owing to the greater longevity of women compared to men. The census metropolitan areas with the highest shares of females in their populations as of July 1, 2010 were Saint John (51.6%), Victoria (51.6%), Halifax (51.5%), Peterborough (51.4%) and Trois-Rivières (51.3%). In contrast, there were only three census metropolitan areas where males comprised just over half of the population:  Calgary (50.9%), Edmonton (50.8%) and Abbotsford-Mission (50.1%).


Note

  1. However, a large part of the Ottawa-Gatineau census metropolitan area is located in Ontario.
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