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CBC Newfoundland and Labrador - The Teen Age

CBC Newfoundland & Labrador


Web features - Teenage wasteland: The downside of demographics
CBC Newfoundland and Labrador | March 21, 2005
lining up for school buses
Even the most optimistic projections expect there will be fewer teens lining up for school buses in the next 15 years.

Teenagers – that demographic sensation famous for being so unpredictable – can be counted on to do at least one thing in the next couple of decades: shrink.

From March 21, 2005: Jeff Gilhooly speaks with CBC News Online's John Gushue about the dramatic drop in the number of teenagers in the province. Click to listen to the Audio file(runs 4:44)

In numbers, that is – and steeply, at that.

Even the best-case scenarios plotted by the provincial government predict a dramatic drop in the numbers of teenagers in the years to come.

The slide of youth has expected for some time. School enrolments peaked in the early 1970s, when the tail end of the baby boom were making their way through the province's classrooms.

Then, the 1992 fisheries moratorium triggered what can only be described as a demographic quake in rural Newfoundland, one that is still being felt.

Consider this: in 1992, there were 52,748 teens between 15 and 19. (The province counts demographic groups in five-year increments.)

In 2005, that number has dropped to 34,910. That loss, of 17,838, amounts roughly to the populations of Gander and Happy Valley-Goose Bay – combined.

There's more to come.

The provincial government's Economic and Statistics Branch tracks demographic projections for the years ahead, and all signs are pointing toward a continued downward trend.

This chart shows the decline of teenagers between 15 and 19 in Newfoundland 
        and Labrador. Future projections are based on best-case scenarios developed 
        by the Economics and Statistics Branch.
This chart shows the decline of teenagers between 15 and 19 in Newfoundland and Labrador. Future projections are based on best-case scenarios developed by the Economics and Statistics Branch.

Three scenarios have been constructed for population modelling, called High, Medium and Low.

The high – or best-case – scenario assumes an upward trend in the province's fertility rate, and net outmigration to remain near zero, with population increasing after 2007.

Even so, the best-case forecast is for 25,236 teenagers between 15 and 19 in 2019, or a drop of more than 25 per cent.

The "medium" and "low" projections are even more dire. The low scenario sees the fertility rate – already among the lowest in the country – dropping even further, and outmigration continuing into the years to come.

The medium scenario projects a population of 24,551 teens between 15 and 19 in 2019.

The low scenario brings that number down to 23,321.

To put those low numbers in perspective, consider the number of 15-to-19-year-olds peaked in 1981, at 63,744.

In other words, the province could witness a drop of 40,423 people in that single demographic group in less than 30 years.

Imagine the populations of Conception Bay South, Labrador City, Clarenville, Marystown and Glovertown all packing up their bags, and leaving for good.

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