outline of people

While economists have largely focused on the stresses that have accompanied Canada’s rapid immigration-driven population growth, new data from Statistics Canada highlights the positive impact on population aging.

While Canada’s population is continuing to age — a condition that’s often associated with slower economic growth and intensifying strains on public finances — the aging curve has been bent by increased immigration.

“As the many recent immigrants are, on average, younger than the rest of the Canadian population, the average age of the Canadian population fell slightly from July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023, a first since 1958,” StatsCan reported.

Indeed, the average age of the population dropped to 41.6 years, from July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2023, from 41.7. The median age fell to 40.6 years over the same period, from 40.9.

“This is the first time in 65 years that the mean and median ages of the population have both fallen in the same year,” StatsCan said.

At the same time, the working-age population grew for the first time in 2023, after steadily declining since 2007. In 2023, that trend reversed, and the proportion of the population aged 15 to 64 years rose to 65.7% from 65.5%.

“This change may benefit Canadian society by increasing the size of the working-age population, possibly helping to alleviate the pressures of sectoral labour shortages,” StatsCan said.

However, it also acknowledged that this also pressures housing, transportation and infrastructure.

As a result of the shifting population mix, millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) now outnumber baby boomers (1946 to 1965).

While the number of people aged 65 and over has continued to rise, the share of the population comprised of millennials and generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) is increasing, while the share for baby boomers and generation X (1966 to 1980) is decreasing, StatsCan said.

In fact, Gen Z has now passed Gen X to rank as the third largest population group, and StatsCan said it could overtake millennials between 2038 and 2053, based on current projections.

This rise in the millennial and generation Z populations is largely due to the recent arrival of a record number of permanent and temporary immigrants, it reported.

These kinds of shifts in the composition of a population are rare, StatsCan noted, but the recent wave of immigration has been large enough to alter the age structure of the population.