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Population ageing refers to the aspect of a society in which the number of the elderly people past the retirement age is continually increasing with respect to the total population. An ageing population is normally characterized by increased percentage of the categorized older people in a given society. This paper seeks to discuss the topic of population ageing in Canada.
The paper will look into aspects of population ageing in Canada in terms of its causes and impacts as well as policies that should be considered in order to alleviate possible problems that the population ageing may cause in Canada.
The Canadian Demography
The structure of the Canadian demography is majorly determined by the country’s aspects of birth rate, mortality rates, life expectancy, emigration from the country and immigrations into the country. The birth rate and the total period fertility are statistical projections calculated from past records of a society. The two elements describe the average number of children that is expected of a woman in her lifetime.
The trend in birth rate in Canada can be categorically described in three groups due to the similarity in past and projected patterns that is realized. The birth rates of women between the ages of twenty and twenty seven has a characteristic decreasing trend in the past observed data with a similarly decreasing trend which is almost stagnant in the projected statistics.
The category of women ranging from twenty eight years old to thirty two years has experienced a decreasing trend in birth rate which however picked up in the year 2005 and is projected to increase in future. The other category is the age group of thirty three to thirty nine years who have experienced an increasing past trend in birth rate and a corresponding increasing projection in the future periods of time.
The total period fertility of the country registered a decreasing trend up to the year 2001 before rising until the year 2010 with further projected increase. The average birth rate has been significantly low, decreasing from 1.7 percent in the early 1990s to almost one percent in the year 2003 before slightly increasing (Dungan and Murphy, 2010).
The Canadian population is recorded to have a fair balance in terms of gender. The death rates in Canada also exhibit a trend that slightly varies across different ages. The death rate in Canada has fairly been constant at the age group of between thirty to thirty nine years. This rate is also projected to remain constant.
Age group between forty to fifty nine years has averagely experienced a reduced death rate which is projected to decrease over the future. However, the older generation has over the past experienced a fluctuating death rate which retained the general decreasing tendency with a smoothly decreasing projection. The average death rate is significantly noted to be relatively higher in males than in females.
The life expectancy in the country has on the other hand been constantly increasing with a corresponding increase in its projections. It is again notable that the life expectancy is relatively higher in women than in men through out the considered statistics (Dungan and Murphy, 2010).
Emigration of Canadians as well as the number of those returning from foreign countries has been slightly fluctuating in the past years at less that two percent with a prediction of constant percentage figures. Immigration into the country has been oscillating with convergence to 0.7 percent at which it is projected to stabilize in future.
The Canadian population is therefore identified to be majorly dependent on the birth rate and the life expectancy which is a factor to mortality rate. The reduced birth rate towards the end of the twentieth century together with the generally increasing life expectancy reflects a threat to a shift in the demographic structure of the country with the tendency of an ageing population (Dungan and Murphy, 2010).
Possible causes of the Ageing population in Canada
The major determinants of the Canadian economy are identified to be the birth rate and the mortality rate with life expectancy determining the structure of the population.
Studies under economics have revealed a paradox that contrary to the perception that improved national economies which is reflected in living standards and conditions should encourage and support higher rate of population increase, it has been noted that wealthy countries have been characterized by reduced number of children.
It is recorded that the birth rates in developed countries have over the past years reduced from about eight percent to almost one percent in the current periods. This together with the increased life expectancy is significantly transforming the demographic patterns of these countries. A comparison of demographics indicates a transition in the structure and composition of populations.
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Four decades ago, the human development index was generally low across the globe with the highest possibly being realized in Canada at almost 0.9. The trend in Canada is realized to be characterized by reduced fertility rate under its high human development index. With the low fertility rates of almost one percent, the population of Canada is threatened by significant reduction since the rate is relatively lower that the mortality rates.
The reduced birth rate has been a result of women empowerment that has witnessed their active engagement in employment activities. As a consequence, women moved to control their birth rates as a step to adjusting in their active role in economic activities. The result of the controlled birth rate is a shrinking population characterized by a relatively lower percentage of the young people in the country (Economist, 2009).
Impacts of Ageing Population in Canada
Population trend in Canada and many other developed countries has also shifted in terms of its relevance to the economies. In the early periods and up to the mid times of nineteenth century, when a number of countries started to introduce pension schemes, the life expectancies in variety of countries were generally low and people rarely reached old age.
This view represented societies where every one was actively participating in the economy. The imminent impacts of the demographic change include the general reduction of the total population and the emergence of an economically less active population. The reduced population will as a result reduce the labor force in the economy leading to labor shortage.
The shift in the population pattern also has the effect of reducing labor supply as the majority of the population will be too old to work, or even if they are fixed into the economy, they will not effectively yield the output that could have been realized from a younger employee. The impacts have not yet been felt, though expected to heavily impact the economy if no action is taken to avert the situation.
Another significant problem is the expenditure on the elderly who will be economically passive and will depend on either government’s pension schemes or on family members for support (The Economist, 2009).
Possible Policies to Alleviate Impacts of Ageing Population
One of the possible measures of averting the imminent labor shortage in the future Canada, and any other country faced with the problem of an ageing population, is the importation of labor by encouraging immigration.
Solution could also be achieved through developing policies that will encourage women to have more children to increase the population of the young as well as recycling retirees into the economy (Economist, 2009).
The ageing population is evident in Canada. Caused by reduced birth rate and increased life expectancy, the changed demography is a threat to the country’s economy and necessary policies should be adopted to avert future labor shortage in Canada.
Dungan, P and Murphy, S. (2010). A Population Projection for Canada with an Updated Application to Health Care Expenditures. Toronto: University of Toronto.
Economist. (2009). The best of all the world. The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/node/14164483/print?story_id=14164483
The Economist. (2009). The end of retirement. The Economist. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/node/13900145/print?story_id=13900145