What the 2011 census says about Nova Scotia
Halifax remains the youngest region of a greying province, according to Statistics Canada.
New census information released on Tuesday shows Nova Scotia has the highest percentage of senior citizens of all the provinces, but Halifax defies the trend.
The national average of senior citizens — people 65 and older — was 14.8 per cent in 2011. Nova Scotia tops the list at 16.6 per cent.
At 13.1 per cent, the Halifax region was below the national average, with 51,105 seniors.
The numbers don't surprise associate professor Ed Ng, a specialist in human resource management at Dalhousie University.
Ng said without a vibrant economy, young workers head west for jobs. Yet many of those people return to the Maritimes when they retire.
"That actually adds up to an older population in the Maritimes," Ng told CBC News.
For Nova Scotia as a whole, the median age was 43.7 years, older than Canada's at 40.6. In Halifax the median age was 39.9 years.
Lunenburg had the highest median age among the main communities in Nova Scotia: 52.8 years.
Senior citizens make up a third of Lunenburg's population
Lawrence Mawhinney, the 71-year-old mayor of Lunenburg, said living in the town can add years to your life. Senior citizens make up nearly a third of the town's population.
"I'm in that third, I'm proud of it and I'm very happy to feel invigorated by the sunlight that greets us usually every morning, or the bit of fog that drifts through this time of year," he told CBC News on Tuesday.
"I think there's a good feel to the community because you can get as involved as you want or also live as quietly as you may wish. That is a balance you don't always find in city life."
An aging population is a big concern when it comes to public policy, said Ng. It has a direct effect on everything from health care to housing.
"Ultimately we have to provide a vibrant economy and that's sustainable over a long time. Otherwise, people are less willing to move back just for a short period of time," Ng said.
He points to opportunities like the shipbuilding contract, which is supposed to create thousands of jobs.
Ng said immigration is also key to turning Nova Scotia's demographics around.
In 2011, children aged 14 and under made up 15 per cent of Nova Scotia's population. In Halifax, it was 15.3 per cent.
With files from The Canadian Press