Canada's population estimates: Age and sex

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July 1, 2011 (preliminary) (Previous release)

As of July 1, the median age of Canada's population was estimated at 39.9 years, up 0.2 years from the same date a year earlier. The main factors explaining the aging of the Canadian population are fertility rates persistently below the generation replacement level of 2.1 children per woman and an increasing life expectancy.

On July 1, the number of people aged 65 years or older was estimated at 4,973,400 or 14.4% of Canada's population, up 0.3 percentage points from the same date a year earlier. The proportion of seniors will grow more rapidly in the coming years as the first generation of baby boomers are now reaching the age of 65. On the other hand, the proportion of children under the age of 15 has decreased, representing 16.4% of the total population or 5,644,800.

The Atlantic provinces have the highest median age in the country

As of July 1, Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest median age in the country (43.8 years) and the highest increase in median age from the same date a year earlier (+0.5 years). The median age in the other Atlantic provinces was also above the national average: 42.2 years in Prince Edward Island, 43.1 years in Nova Scotia and 43.0 years in New Brunswick.

Nova Scotia (16.5%) and New Brunswick (16.2%) also had the highest proportion of the population aged 65 or older. The lowest proportions of children under the age of 15 in the country were in Newfoundland and Labrador (14.8%) and Nova Scotia (14.7%).

Note to readers

Estimates in this release are based on 2006 Census counts adjusted for net census undercoverage to which is added the estimated demographic growth from May 16, 2006 to June 30, 2011.

The 2011 Census population counts will be released on February 8, 2012. Population estimates based on the 2011 Census counts, adjusted for Census net undercoverage, will be available in September 2013 for provinces and territories and in February 2014 for subprovincial areas.

This release mainly focuses on preliminary postcensal population estimates by age and sex as of July 1, 2011. The estimates presented in this release are subject to revision. Future updates could affect the analysis of trends.

Unless otherwise stated, historical comparisons in this analysis relate to the period between July 1, 1971 and July 1, 2011, the period covered by the current system of demographic accounts.

Natural increase is the variation in population size over a given period as a result of the difference between the number of births and the number of deaths.

Net international migration is the variation in population over a given period as a result of movements of population between Canada and other countries that involve a change in the usual place of residence. A distinction is made between immigrants, emigrants, returning emigrants, net temporary emigrants and net non-permanent residents.

Non-permanent residents (also called temporary residents) are people from another country who have a work or study permit, or who are refugee claimants, and family members living in Canada with them.

Median age is the age at which 50% of the population is older and 50% is younger.

Central Canada: Population older in Quebec

As of July 1, Quebec's population was older than that of the country as a whole, with a median age of 41.4 years and 15.7% of the population aged 65 years or older. For the first time, Quebec now has more persons aged 65 and older (1,253,600) than youth under the age of 15 (1,241,700).

Ontario's population was younger than that of Canada on July 1. Its median age was estimated at 39.6 years, while 14.2% of the population was 65 years of age or older.

British Columbia has the oldest population in the West

While the three Prairie provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta) each had younger populations than the country as a whole, British Columbia had an older population.

On July 1, the estimated median age in Manitoba declined by 0.1 years from the same date a year earlier to 37.6 years. In Saskatchewan, the estimated median age declined by 0.2 years to 37.3 years. These were the only two provinces in Canada where the median age declined compared with the same date a year earlier. These two provinces also had the highest proportion of children under the age of 15 (18.8% in Manitoba and 19.0% in Saskatchewan).

Alberta had, on July 1, the youngest population among the provinces with a median age of 36.0 years and a proportion of persons 65 years or older of 10.8%. In both cases, these were the lowest among all the provinces.

British Columbia was the only province in the West where the median age was higher than that of the country as a whole. As of July 1, the median age in British Columbia was 41.1 years, while the proportion of persons aged 65 years or older was 15.3%, the highest for the western provinces. It was also the only province in the West where there were fewer children under the age of 15 (684,900) than persons 65 years or older (700,500).

Youngest population in the territories

As of July 1, the youngest population in Canada was in Nunavut, where the median age was 24.8 years. Almost a third (31.5%) of the Nunavut population was under the age of 15, the highest proportion in the country.

The Northwest Territories' population was also younger than the national average, with the median age at 31.8 years and 21.2% of the population under the age of 15. Among the territories, Yukon had the oldest population. Its median age as of July 1 was estimated at 39.2 years and the proportion of persons aged 65 or older at 8.8%.

Population growth slows

On July 1, Canada's population was estimated at 34,482,800, up 356,600, or 1.0%, from the same date in 2010. This was down from the 1.2% gain between July 1, 2009 and July 1, 2010.

Population growth varied across the country. In 2010/2011, the western provinces as well as Prince Edward Island and Nunavut all had growth rates above or equal to the national average. The largest provincial increases were in Prince Edward Island (+1.7%) and Alberta (+1.6%). Major components of Canada's population growth for 2010/2011 are presented in table 1.

Available on CANSIM: tables 051-0001, 051-0002, 051-0004, 051-0005, 051-0011 to 051-0013, 051-0018, 051-0019 and 051-0041.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3604.

The Annual Demographic Estimates: Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2011 (91-215-X, free), is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

For further information regarding demographic estimates, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (613-951-8116; toll-free 1-800-263-1136; infostats@statcan.gc.ca), Communications Division.

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-866-767-5611; 613-951-2320; fax: 613-951-2307; demography@statcan.gc.ca), Demography Division.