Living in Canada has certainly proved to be an experience different from New Zealand in many ways. For a start the banking system seems a few years behind New Zealand. We’ve found that some places will only accept payment by cheque – in New Zealand no one we know has a chequebook! The other big shock has been the weather – today, about three weeks from the start of summer, it is snowing. Snowing! The boys like it as they’ve never experienced snowflakes before, but it does make it hard to get around places, especially without a car!
Having said all that, some things seem to be the same throughout much of the Western world. And demographic trends are certainly similar in Canada to other countries that we have talked about on this blog. The National Post recently reported on the census results from 2016 which show that Canada’s population of just over 35 million people is getting older and its fertility rate is slowing down. This can most clearly be seen in the fact that, for the first time in Canada’s history, more of its citizens are over the age of 65 than under 15.
While the five years to 2016 saw Canada’s population as a whole grow by five per cent, the number of senior citizens grew by 20 per cent. Those who have reached 100 years old and received a telegram from the Queen increased by 40 per cent. At the other end of the age spectrum, those under the age of 15 also grew, but less than the national average at only 4.1 per cent. This is a reflection of the nation’s fertility rate which now stands at 1.6 children per woman. In about a decade it is predicted that nearly a quarter of Canada’s population will be senior citizens, and just 16 per cent will be children under the age of 15. This may be a trend across the western world, but Canada is a late starter – it is still has the lowest proportion of senior citizens of any of the G7 nations bar the USA. (But then one sees that that just means it has a younger population than Germany, Japan, Italy, the UK and France: hardly a particularly youthful set of countries.)
As the Canadian statistics agency reports:
“Housing and transportation needs are changing, as is consumption, which is shifting towards goods and services for seniors … The number of families made up of couples whose children have left home is also on the rise.”
As the life expectancy of Canadians grows, the number of women as a proportion of the population is also growing. Currently women make up 50.9% of the population, while there are two women for every man over the age of 85.
And what of immigration? Well, immigration has had a major impact on Canada’s population growth, but it had only a minor effect on the rate at which Canada’s population is ageing. Apparently this is because immigration numbers have been stable for a quarter century and because most immigrants arrive as young adults and grow older in Canada.