Report

2016 Census in Canada – The largest increase in the proportion of seniors since Confederation

From 2011 to 2016, Canada registered the largest increase in the proportion of seniors since Confederation. This acceleration of population aging is the result of the first baby boomers reaching the age of 65.

Today, Statistics Canada is releasing a second series of data from the 2016 Census on age and sex, and type of dwelling. The agency will release all 2016 Census data in 2017, based on the 2016 Census Program release schedule. These data will provide a detailed and accurate portrait of the lives of Canadians and their communities.

The age-sex composition of Canada’s population has changed considerably since 1871, as can be seen in the 1871 and 2016 age pyramids. These pyramids reflect the country’s demographic, social and economic history over the past 150 years.

Infographic 1
Age pyramid of Canada in 1871 and 2016: 150 years of demographic history

Noteworthy in the 2016 age pyramid is the post-World War II baby boom (1946 to 1965). This is followed by the smaller generations or baby bust of the late 1960s and early 1970s (often called “Generation X”), those aged 15 to 34 (often referred to as “millennials”) and the growing number of children aged 5 to 9—due to an increase in the number of births from 2006 to 2011.

A generational shift in Canada: More seniors now than children
As a result of the rapid increase in the number of people 65 years of age and older since 2011, 2016 marked the first time that the census enumerated more seniors (5.9 million) than children 14 years of age and younger (5.8 million).

Infographic 2 Thumbnail for Infographic 2: Trends in the number and proportion of children and seniors in Canada from 1851 to 2061
Trends in the number and proportion of children and seniors in Canada from 1851 to 2061


For the first time, the share of seniors (16.9%)—the share they represent of the total Canadian population—exceeded the share of children (16.6%). The increase in the proportion of seniors from 2011 to 2016 was the largest observed since 1871—a clear sign that Canada’s population is aging at a faster pace.

The 2016 Census enumerated 23.4 million 15 to 64 year olds, or 66.5% of the total population. This was down from 68.5% in 2011.

In addition to the baby boomers getting older, these lasting changes are also due to two other trends that will likely continue in the future. The increasing life expectancy of Canadians is gradually bringing the number and proportion of seniors upward, while continuous low fertility rates since the 1970s limit the number of children and drives down their share in the overall population.

Although 30 years of sustained immigration has had a significant impact on Canada’s population growth, it did not have much influence on the aging of the population for two reasons. First, immigration flows have been relatively stable since the late 1980s. Secondly, most immigrants arriving in Canada are in their thirties and grow older here in Canada.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at The Daily — Age and sex, and type of dwelling data: Key results from the 2016 Census

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