Soon there will be more deaths than births
- In 2005, Canada registered more births (342,176) than deaths (230,132). Its natural increase was therefore positive at 112,000.
- In 1960, with the baby-boom in full swing, Canada recorded a record level of natural increase of 339,000. That year, Canadian women had given birth to 479,000 children.
- With Canada’s population steadily growing from year to year, the number of deaths has understandably increased over time, and it will continue to do so in the future. When the baby-boom generations reach the ages of high mortality, this trend is expected to accelerate. Around 2030, this could lead to a situation where there would be more deaths than births. If fertility increases to 1.7 children per woman, the point when the deaths start to outnumber births could be postponed by some fifteen years. If fertility declines, that point could instead be reached by approximately 2020.
Figure 4 Number of births and deaths in Canada, 1926 to 2056
Since the late 1990s, Canadian women have been having an average of 1.5 children
- In 2005, the total fertility rate of Canadian women was slightly above 1.5 children per woman. This rate, which indicates the average number of children that women would have during their lifetime if they conformed to the current age-specific fertility rates, has been hovering around this level since the late 1990s.
- For more than thirty years, the total fertility rate has been below the replacement level (which is currently approximately 2.1 children per woman). This means that on average, couples are no longer having enough children to replace them.
- This low-fertility regime resulted from the fall in the total fertility rate that followed the postwar baby-boom (1946 to 1965). During that high-fertility period, the total fertility rate remained at more than three children per woman, even reaching almost four children per woman in the late 1950s.
Figure 5 Total fertility rate in Canada, 1926 to 2005
Developed countries have low fertility, and Canada is no exception
- In 2005, Canada’s total fertility rate was comparable to that of the Europe 15, at around 1.5 children per woman. Among industrialized countries, the United States is an exception, with levels which, since the early 1990s, have generally remained above the level of two children per woman. By contrast, Japan has very low fertility levels, with less than 1.3 children per woman.
- Fertility in industrialized countries was lower than world fertility, which was pushed up by less developed countries such as Mexico. However, during the second half of the twentieth century, global fertility declined, dropping from 5.0 to just over 2.5 children per women. Fertility in industrialized countries appears to have stabilized at the low levels recorded in the mid-1980s, while the decline continues elsewhere.
Figure 6 Total fertility rate of the world population and selected countries, 1950 to 2005
The fertility of women aged 30 to 34 has caught up with that of women aged 25 to 29
- During the last century, age-specific fertility rates in Canada went through three distinct periods. In the inter-wars period, fertility declined almost continually in all age groups. Next came the baby-boom period (1946 to 1965), which saw the rates of age groups below 30 rise considerably before falling just as sharply. The most recent period, namely the past thirty years, stands out from the previous two in that fertility rates have declined for younger women (those under 30) but have risen for women in their thirties and early forties, resulting in an increase in the average age at childbirth.
- In 2005, women between 30 and 34 years of age became those with the greatest propensity to give birth, followed very closely by women aged 25 to 29. Women aged 25 to 29 had been the most fertile since the late 1960s.
Figure 7 Age-specific fertility rates in Canada, 1926 to 2005
Young Canadian women are less fertile than their American counterparts
- The lower fertility of Canadian women (approximately 1.5 children per woman) compared to American women (approximately two children per woman) is primarily due to the fact that in recent decades, the fertility of women under thirty years of age has declined substantially in Canada whereas it has remained stable in the United States (Bélanger and Ouellet, 2002).
- In 2005, the fertility rates for young American women were much higher than those in Canada for the age groups under 30, whereas they were similar beyond that age. Between ages 15 and 19, the fertility rate was three times higher in the United States than in Canada. The gap was two to one between ages 20 and 24.
Figure 8 Age-specific fertility rates, Canada and United States, 2005
Generations: increasingly less fertile and having children later
- Age-specific fertility rates within the generations of women born between 1946 and 1980 clearly show the decline and “aging” of fertility that occurred during the second half of the twentieth century. On the one hand, from one generation to the next, there was a decrease in fertility at the youngest ages and an increase among older women. This postponement of births into the thirties does not, however, make up for the drop in fertility in the twenties, which characterized the generations born in the second half of the twentieth century. Also, the age at which fertility is the highest is gradually rising, showing once again that fertility is both declining and “aging.”
Figure 9 Age-specific fertility rates for selected generations of women in Canada
Life expectancy grew steadily throughout the twentieth century
- Since the start of the last century, the life expectancy of Canada’s population has grown substantially. Between 1926 and 2005, males gained 20.0 additional years of life, while females gained an additional 22.7 years.
- In 2005, life expectancy at birth of Canadian females was 82.7 years, an increase of 0.8 years over 2000. Among Canadian males, life expectancy at birth was somewhat lower in 2005, at 78.0 years, but the increase since 2000 was greater at 1.4 years. As has been the case since 1979, the gap between the life expectancy at birth of males and females continued to decrease in recent years, differing by 4.7 years in 2005.
- According to the medium mortality assumption in the most recent population projections, the life expectancy at birth of Canadian males and females would reach respectively 81.9 and 86.0 years in 2031.
Figure 10 Life expectancy at birth by sex in Canada, 1926 to 2031
Life expectancy in Canada is one of the highest in the world
- Compared to other industrialized countries, Canada has one of the highest life expectancies at birth. In the United States, for example, life expectancy (74.8 years for males and 80.1 years for females) was, in 2003, more than two years lower than that observed in Canada, for males as for females.
- Life expectancy worldwide in 2000 (63.9 years for males and 68.3 years for females) was well below that of the population of Canada and other industrialized countries. In 2000, the gap between life expectancy in Canada and in the world as a whole was 12.7 years for males and 13.6 years for females.
- In the future, according to the middle assumption in the latest population projections, life expectancy will continue to increase in Canada, as it also will elsewhere in the world.
Figure 11 Life expectancy at birth by sex for the world population and selected countries, 1971 to 2031
Death strikes fewer children and more old people than before
- Compared to what was observed in 1926, the age and sex structure of deaths in Canada in 2005 was much different. First, the number of deaths that occurred between age 0 and 1 year in 2005 was less than 1%, compared to one in five in 1926. Second, only one third of the deaths in 1926 occurred above age 65; it was more than three out of four in 2005.
- This reversal is due in part to the remarkable progress made in the field of living conditions, public salubrity and medicine, which has led to a sizable reduction in early childhood mortality. It also attests to the fact that the main causes of death in Canada’s population have generally evolved away from infectious diseases affecting children toward degenerative diseases and cancer, which tend more to affect older people.
Figure 12 Number of deaths by age and sex in Canada, 1926 and 2005
The twentieth century saw the almost complete eradication of infant mortality
- At 5.4 per thousand births, the infant mortality rate was in 2005 at one of its lowest level ever recorded in Canada. In 1926, about one new-born out of 10 passed away in his or her first year of life. This division by 20 of the infant mortality rate in about one century reveals to what extent progress has been made in this regard.
- Although it was less spectacular, neonatal (first month of life) and early neonatal (first week of life) mortality has also decreased substantially during the 20th century. Today, the risks of dying for a new born are almost entirely concentrated in the first week of life.
- Although very low, infant mortality in Canada could continue to decline in the forthcoming years. In Japan or Sweden for example, infant mortality is lower (less than 3.5 per thousand births) than in Canada, showing that improvements can still be made.
Figure 13 Infant, neonatal and early neonatal mortality rates in Canada, 1926 to 2005
In Canada, 84% of males and 90% of females reach at least age 65
- By applying mortality levels for a given year to a synthetic cohort of 100 individuals, it is possible to obtain a curve showing the number of survivors at each age and thus get an idea of the speed of the cohort’s extinction. When the curves for 2001 and 1931 are compared, it becomes clear that Canadian males and females today are surviving in greater numbers to advanced ages. With the mortality that prevailed in 1931, less than 60% of males survived to age 65, compared to 84% with the 2001 mortality. In turn, the proportion of females who survived to age 65 was 62% in 1931; it exceeded 90% in 2001.
- The chances of survival have greatly improved, owing to the virtual eradication of infant mortality and the postponement of mortality to ever more advanced ages.
Figure 14 Life table survivors by sex in Canada, 1931 and 2001
Mortality due to diseases of the circulatory system has greatly diminished in the past 25 years
- In general, in Canada, the overall mortality rate declined significantly between 1979 and 2004. The overall standardized rate for males declined by one-third, going from 9.3 to 5.9 deaths per thousand men. Female mortality declined from 7.4 to 5.6 deaths per thousand women.
- This decrease in mortality within the Canadian population in recent decades is largely due to the drop in mortality for diseases of the circulatory system, which between 1979 and 2004 went from 4.4 to just under 1.8 per thousand for males and from 3.8 to 1.8 per thousand for females. During the same period, the mortality rate for external causes (accidents, suicides and homicides) fell by half for both males and females. Cancer mortality remained relatively stable, hovering around 2.0 deaths per thousand for Canadian males and 1.7 per thousand for Canadian females.
Figure 15 Changes in causes of death by sex in Canada, 1979 to 2004
The main causes of death vary with the age of the individual
- It is not only the risks of dying that vary as one grows older, so do the causes of death. Older persons are more likely to die of cancer and diseases of the circulatory system than younger persons. Teenagers and young adults are more likely to be stricken by external causes of death such as accidents, suicides and, to a lesser extent, homicides. Young children, between 0 and 4 years of age, more often die as a result of problems related to malformations, chromosomal abnormalities or other conditions originating in the perinatal period.
- Females are more likely than males to die as a result of cancer. On the other hand, males are more affected than females by diseases of the circulatory system and external causes of death.
Figure 16 Deaths by age group, cause and sex in Canada, 2004
More than 225,000 immigrants admitted to Canada each year, on average, since the early 1990s
- In 2006, 252,000 immigrants were admitted to Canada, representing an immigration rate of 8 newcomers per thousand persons. This rate has remained relatively constant since 1990.
- During the twentieth century, the annual number of international immigrants to Canada varied considerably. In the early years of the century, record numbers of immigrants were admitted in the drive to settle the Western provinces. In 1912 and 1913, the immigration rate even exceeded 50 per thousand, a rate almost seven times higher than in 2006.
- The Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II had the effect of almost totally halting the entry of international immigrants into Canada. Over a ten-year period, between 1934 and 1943 inclusive, fewer than 125,000 persons in all immigrated to Canada. This represents less than half the number of immigrants admitted to Canada for the year 2006 alone.
Figure 17 Number of immigrants and immigration rate in Canada, 1900 to 2006
The majority of today's immigrants to Canada are coming from Asia
- Between 2001 and 2006, just over 60% of newcomers to Canadian soil were from Asia. This strongly contrasts with the situation that prevailed forty years earlier, when Asians accounted for scarcely 6.4% of immigrants. In the years following World War II, Canadian immigration policies were more favourable to the admission of individuals from European countries. As a result, between 1961 and 1966, nearly three immigrants in four were from Europe.
- The relative weight of immigrants from African countries more than tripled between the early 1960s and the early 2000s. Between 2001 and 2006, they accounted for 10.5% of new immigrants, compared to 3.0% forty years earlier.
- The proportion of immigrants from the United States followed an opposite trend, dropping from 9.0% between 1961 and 1966 to less than 3% for the period 2001 to 2006.
Figure 18 Continent of birth of immigrants to Canada, 1961 to 1966 and 2001 to 2006
More than half of immigrants coming to Canada in 2006 were economic immigrants including spouses, partners and dependents of principal applicants
- In 2006, 54% of immigrants were admitted under the economic component of the immigration policy (including principal applicants as well as their spouses, partners and dependents). Among those immigrants, the principal applicants were selected for economic reasons—meaning that they were considered to be more likely to stimulate economy or integrate into the labour market given their age, education level and knowledge of Canada's official languages.
- The current situation differs from the early 1980s, when Canada admitted on average more immigrants in the family reunification category as economic immigrants.
- In the past twenty-five years, the proportion of refugees among the new immigrants admitted each year has ranged between 9.1% and 23.2%. In 2006 it was 12.9%.
Figure 19 Immigrants to Canada by category, 1981 to 2006
Immigrants come to Canada in the prime of life
- In 2006, most newcomers to Canada were between 25 and 44 years of age. Their age and sex distribution was thus quite different from that of the rest of Canada’s population. The median age of immigrants arriving in 2006 (29.8 years) was 9 years lower than that of Canada’s overall population in the same year (38.8 years).
- Visible at the base of the pyramid is the effect of international adoptions. There is a larger contribution of newcomers one year old, for males as for females.
Figure 20 Number of immigrants to Canada by age and sex, 2006