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

Friday, May 28, 2010

Winds of demographic change

Wednesday’s Statscan release on population projections out to 2036 prompted a couple of interesting lines in a related CBC report:

Seniors would surpass the number of children 14 or under for the first time ever between 2015 and 2021, depending on the growth scenario.


The population of every province and territory would increase during this time, except under the low-growth scenario. In that case, Newfoundland and Labrador would be expected to see its population decline.
Let’s play around with the numbers a little bit: in Newfoundland and Labrador, as recently as 1998 the population of children and youth under 18 years of age was more than double the population of senior adults 65 and older.

In the five most recent years for which estimates are available, the number of children and youth has declined from between 1.4% to 2.8%, year-over-year, with an average decline of 2.2%. In the same time period, the senior population has increased between 1.8% and 3% each year, averaging 2.3%.

This chart shows the observed population of children and seniors up to 2008, with projections, based on the recent trends, to the end of the decade.

[Data source: CANSIM Table 051-0001]

The thick projected line represents a continuation of the “average” figures from above. The thinner lines bound a range of possibilities, assuming a continuation of the highest and lowest recently-observed rates of population change, noted above. The dark green diamond is the zone where all the likely demographic universes intersect.l

Insert caution about past performance here, but these assumptions mesh fairly closely with the provincial government’s own projections... although those, curiously, don’t show much variation between the Low, Medium, and High scenarios for the senior age brackets:

(The “Children” figure in this second graph includes those 19 years of age, which slightly delays the projected crossover point.)

Even under the most optimistic assumptions for growth (or slowing decline) in the young population, and for the smallest increases in the senior population, Newfoundland and Labrador will lead the country into the brave new demographic world where senior citizens outnumber junior ones. That crossover will likely occur no later than 2016, and as early as 2012.

And if graphs like these look familiar, you may be thinking of this sort of thing:

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