Canada

Seniors may soon outnumber children: StatsCan

Aging baby boomers, low fertility levels and increasing longevity could mean senior citizens will outnumber children in Canada by 2015, suggests Statistics Canada.

Aging baby boomers, smaller families and increasing longevity could mean senior citizens will outnumber children in Canada by 2015, suggests Statistics Canada.

Released on Thursday, the agency's population projections spell out a number of possible scenarios for the country's population growth through the next 50 years. The scenarios depend on fertility rates, migration patterns and life expectancy, and are not predictions, the agency stressed.

According to all of the projections, seniors aged 65 and over will likely outnumber people aged 15 and younger within 10 years. Currently, there are about two million more children than seniors.

StatsCan projects by 2031:

  • People 65 and over will number between 8.9 million - 9.4 million.
  • People 15 and under will number between 4.8 million - 6.6 million.
"This would be an unprecedented situation in Canada," said a release from the federal statistics agency.

The number of seniors will increase rapidly beginning in 2011, when the first baby boomers – people born between 1946 and 1964 – turn 65.

As the boomers age, the percentage of seniors will rise from its current 13 per cent of the total population to 25 per cent by 2031.

Currently, the median age of Canadians is 39, meaning half the population is younger and half is older. In 25 years, that age will be between 43 and 46. By 2056, the median age could be as high as 50.

Atlantic Canada will continue to report the highest median age, while the three territories will have the youngest populations.

The proportion of older seniors will also increase. By 2056, one in 10 Canadians will be 80 or older.

The projections suggest that Canada's overall population will rise from its current 31.4 million to more than 40 million in 30 years.

However, deaths could eventually outnumber births beginning as early as 2020, making international net migration the country's only source of population growth, said StatsCan.

This rate of population growth is projected to be higher than other G-8 countries such as Germany, Russia, Italy, and Japan, the agency notes.

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