National Population Projections: Actuarial Study No. 4 May 2005: Office of the Chief Actuary, OSFI

Purpose of the Study

“This is the first study of the national population projections for Canada published by the Office of the Chief Actuary (OCA). The primary purpose of the study is to provide an estimate of the future size and composition of the population of Canada. Specifically, the projections provide long-term estimates of the number of births, deaths, immigrants, emigrants, and age and sex composition of the Canadian population. The study also examines the sensitivity of the future evolution of the population to certain key assumptions. In addition, the study provides a comparison of key aging indicators between Canada and the other G8 countries (France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States).”

Main Findings

“This study provides projections of the Canadian population based on the 2001 Census data using the same �best-estimate� assumptions as in the 21st Actuarial Report on the Canada Pension Plan as at 31 December 2003.” The findings fall into the following categories:

  • Size and Aging of the Population

  • Fertility

  • Mortality

  • Migration

General Conclusions

“The population of Canada will continue to increase, but at a slower rate than has been experienced in the past. Moreover, the population is expected to age over time. Low fertility rates will continue to contribute to the slowing growth rate of the population. Along with low fertility rates, increasing life expectancies and the aging of the baby boomers will continue to contribute to the aging of the population.

Fertility rates have fallen with the prevalence of contraception methods, longer periods of formal education, increased levels of female participation in the labour force, and postponement of marriage. It is not likely that the fertility levels of the late 1950s will be experienced in the near or long term.

Significant gains were achieved in life expectancies during the 20th century. Most of these gains were achieved at the younger ages with the introduction of vaccines, improved medical intervention and sanitation, and overall improved quality of life. As such, any material gains in life expectancies will have to come from the older ages where there is still much to be learned about the diseases which affect the old, and the aging process itself. However, the rising incidence of obesity in both children and adults and consequent deterioration in health as well as the emergence of more virulent forms of infectious diseases worldwide could act to reduce future projected gains in life expectancy.

The level of migration affects the aging of the population. As migrants are relatively younger than the general population, increased levels of migration act to impede the extent of this aging. Conversely, low levels of migration lead to accelerated aging of the population. Further, the impact of high or low levels of migration on the aging of the population may be more significant than changes in the levels of fertility or mortality.

The baby boomers are expected to continue to exert a significant impact on the population, with labour shortages anticipated in the next few decades. As this group retires mostly by 2030, the proportions of older individuals in the population will notably increase.

Canada will not be the only country to see these demographic changes in the future. The other G8 countries are also expected to face similar socio-economic challenges as both the growth rates of their populations decline and their populations age.”

This 63 page report is available as a pdf

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