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Canada's population estimates: Age and sex, 2013

Released: 2013-11-25

According to preliminary estimates, 5,379,600 Canadians, or 15.3% of the country's population, were aged 65 and over on July 1, 2013. This proportion has steadily increased since the beginning of the 1960s mainly because of fertility rates persistently below the replacement level and increasing life expectancy. In 1960, the proportion of Canadians aged 65 and over was 7.6%.

As of July 1, 2013, the median age of the Canadian population was 40.2 years. The median age was higher for women (41.1 years) than men (39.4 years). This difference is largely explained by a persistent, although diminishing, gap in life expectancy in favour of women.

Canada has one of the lowest proportion of seniors among G8 countries. At 15.3%, its proportion remains below what was registered in Japan (25.0%), Germany (21.0%), Italy (21.0%), France (17.0%) and the United Kingdom (16.0%). However, it is higher than those recorded in the United States (14.0%) and Russia (13.0%).

Higher demographic growth for seniors

Because the baby-boom cohorts recently started to reach their 65th birthday, the number of Canadian seniors is now increasing at an accelerated pace. Since July 1, 2011, the number of seniors grew at an average annual rate of 4.2%. By comparison, the average annual rate for the five previous years was 2.8%. This proportion should continue to rise rapidly in the coming years as an increasing number of baby boomers will reach the age of 65.

A look at the last 30 years shows that all age groups over 40 posted higher increases than the national average. The largest gains happened in age groups aged 80 and over. In contrast, three age groups saw their numbers decrease during this period: the 20 to 24 (-2.4%), the 10 to 14 (-1.1%) and the 15 to 19 (-0.6%) age groups. These cohorts were born between 1989 and 2003, a period in which Canadian fertility was at its lowest levels.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Demographic growth rate by age group between 1983 and 2013, Canada - Description and data table
Demographic growth rate by age group between 1983 and 2013, Canada

Chart 1: Demographic growth rate by age group between 1983 and 2013, Canada - Description and data table

More women than men reach the age of 100

As a result of increasing life expectancy, more and more Canadians now reach the age of 100. According to preliminary estimates, there were 6,900 centenarians in Canada on July 1, 2013, representing almost 20 centenarians per 100,000 persons. In 2001, this proportion was just over half of that at 11 centenarians per 100,000 persons. By comparison, Japan's population in 2012 had around 40 centenarians per 100,000 persons. More women than men reach the age of 100 because of lower mortality levels at all ages. In 2013, centenarians were mostly women (87.1%).

The territories have the youngest population while the Atlantic provinces have the oldest

The age structure of the population can vary a lot from one province or territory to another. These differences are more often because of differences in the levels of fertility and immigration as well as to changes in interprovincial migration. Generally, the nation's youngest populations are found in the territories, more specifically in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, and the oldest in the Atlantic provinces.

As of July 1, 2013, Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest median age in the country at 44.2 years. Nova Scotia posted both the highest proportion of seniors (17.7%) and the lowest share of youth (14.3%).

Nunavut has the youngest population in the country with 30.8% of its population under the age of 15 and a median age of 25.4 years. This is mainly the result of higher fertility combined with lower life expectancy. Among the provinces, Alberta posted the lowest median age (36.0 years) and the smallest proportion of seniors (11.2%).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Proportion of population aged 65 years old and over by province and territory, Canada, July 1, 2013 - Description and data table
Proportion of population aged 65 years old and over by province and territory, Canada, July 1, 2013

Chart 2: Proportion of population aged 65 years old and over by province and territory, Canada, July 1, 2013 - Description and data table

Strong growth of the working-age population in Alberta

In 2012/2013, Alberta's demographic growth was almost three times higher than the national average. This increase was strongest for the population aged 30 to 44 years, up 5.2%, compared with a 1.1% gain nationally. This was mostly because of Alberta's gains in interprovincial and international migration, which were concentrated in large part at these ages.

The favourable economic context of Alberta can explain in large part these gains, which contributed to the working-age population growth. The oil and gas industry has led Alberta's economic growth and job creation, which has translated into a marked increase in the demand for workers. In 2012/2013, Alberta's employment and job vacancy rates were among the highest in the country. The continued economic boom has also generated growth in a number of energy-related sectors, service industries and other sectors of the economy in Alberta.

  Note to readers

Estimates by age and sex in this release are based on 2011 Census counts adjusted for census net undercoverage and incompletely enumerated Indian reserves to which is added the estimated demographic growth from May 10, 2011, to June 30, 2013.

This release mainly focuses on preliminary postcensal population estimates by age and sex as of July 1, 2013. The estimates presented in this release are subject to revision. Future updates could affect the analysis of trends.

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

International comparisons come from the 2013 World Population Data Sheet of the Population Reference Bureau.

The estimates of the number of Japan centenarians come from the Statistics Bureau of Japan.

Information on Alberta employment and job vacancy rates respectively come from the Labour Force Survey and Job vacancies.

The Annual Demographic Estimates: Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2013 (Catalogue number91-215-X), is now available from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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