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

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Demo/graphics (II)(a)

As mentioned in the first posting in this series, population change for any unit of geography over any span of time is the result of two factors: natural population change and migration. Natural population change is the sum of births minus deaths.

If you have more deaths than births, and you like population, then you have a problem.

The other factor is migration. At the provincial level, there is both interprovincial in- and out-migration, and international immigration and emigration, to consider. Part II of this series looks at net interprovincial migration, or outmigration as it has come to be in the popular imagination.

To start the sub-series, a pretty map. This shows the estimated net interprovincial migration — the number of people arriving in the province from other parts of Canada, minus the number leaving — for the decade July 1997 to June 2007. Since the various census divisions do not have the same population, the map is colour-coded using the decade net-migration figure as a percentage of the 2006 population for that sub-provincial geography, to give a rough idea of the relative impact of interprovincial out-migration on each region of the province.

The same statistical methodological caveat concerning the St. John's Census Metropolitan Area, CD 1 (Avalon) and CD 10 (Labrador) applies here.

For now, take note of two things.

First, every region of the province has experienced net out-migration over the past decade. Not only that, but every region has experienced net out-migration in every year of the past decade.

(Recent Statscan figures show that there has been a slight uptick, and that the province as a whole has recently shown net interprovincial in-migration. The detailed geographical breakdown isn't yet available.)

Think about that for a second.

That includes even supposedly oil-booming St. John's and the Avalon. More people left those regions for other parts of Canada, than who came, or came back.

And secondly, perhaps more tellingly, it even includes Labrador, home to one of the province's biggest megaprojects ever, and its largest mining development in decades, Voisey's Bay; home as well to one of the biggest upswings in a mature mining field in Canada in decades, in the iron ore towns. Not only that, but Labrador has had one of the highest rates of net outmigration of any part of the province.

Does any of this give even a second's pause to those who would promote megaprojects — even staggered-out megaprojects — as a solution, in whole or in part, to the coming economic and demographic earthquakes?

Should it?

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