"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Demo/graphics (I)(a)

As has been pointed out in this corner repeatedly, there are, for the population of any given geographical unit, four components of population change: births, deaths, in-migration, and out-migration.

The sum of these four factors, over any given span of time, will give you the population change over that time. And while migration is currently the biggest demographic trend in the population dynamics of Newfoundland and Labrador — and many other places in Canada, and for that matter the world — it's worth looking at all these factors in turn and in detail.

So let's start with natural population change, which is defined as the sum of the number of births minus the number of deaths, for any defined area over any defined time.

From July 1986 to June 1987, the province had natural population increase of 4,321. There were 4,321 more births than there were deaths. Everything else being equal, no one moving away, no one moving in, that would have been the actual population increase. But remember, natural change — births and deaths — are only part of the equation.

With the exception of minor upticks in 1999/2000 and 2001/2002, the rate of natural population change has fallen in every year of the past two-and-a-bit decades... to the point where, in 2005/2006, the province experienced, for the first time, natural population decline: more deaths than births. (The other Atlantic provinces have no either joined that club, or are on the cusp of doing so; the same trendline, though later to kick in and sometimes slower in rate, is present in all ten provinces.)

However, what's really interesting about the natural change element to population change is how uneven it is. Among the ten census divisions** and the St. John's Census Metropolitan Area*, there are wide variations. In CD 8 (the northeast coast from the Baie Verte Peninsula to about Cape Freels), natural population decline — more deaths than births — first shows up in the population estimates in 1996/1997, nine years before it does for the province as a whole. Natural population decline arrived in CD 4 (St. George's/Port au Port) and CD 7 (Bonavista Bay and Peninsula) the next year; in CD 3 (South Coast) in 1998; CD 2 (Burin Peninsula) and CD 6 (Central) in 1999; CD 9 (the Northern Peninsula) in 2000; and CD 5 (Humber Valley) in 2004.

So far only CD 10** Labrador, CD 1* Avalon, and the St. John's CMA*, have avoided the onset of natural population loss. Only CD 7 (Bonavista) and CD 9 (Northern Peninsula) have seen natural population decline in every year since onset. The others have all had at least one year of natural population increase since their first year of natural population decline. However, since 2004-2005 inclusive, all of Newfoundland, other than the Avalon Peninsula and metro St. John's, have had three consecutive years of natural population decline.

The map below shows the natural population change for the ten years ending in June 2007, as a percentage of the census population for each CD and the St. John's CMA in 2006 census.

* CD 1 Avalon ordinarily includes the St. John's CMA; for this and subsequent exercises, the St. John's CMA figures have been extracted so as to yield a result for the non-metro part of the Avalon.

** Since 2006, Labrador has been split into to Census Divisions, 11 (Nunatsiavut) and 10 (rest of Labrador). These two have been aggregated for this and subsequent exercises, as pre-split figures for the two current divisions are not available.

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