People Power: Immigration Levels and The Impact on Canada’s Population and Economic Growth

The Conference Board of Canada, January 11, 2017 at 02:00 PM EST
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Canada’s population has grown from 3.5 million in 1867 to more than 35 million as we approach our 150th birthday in 2017. Looking ahead, how many Canadians will there be at the next anniversary, or even in 2100?

Population is more than just a fact or a trivia question—demographics are perhaps the most potent force shaping the country’s future. An aging population will have significant implications for the Canadian economy and long-term policy planning. As the baby boomers move into retirement, economic growth will slow—while costs for public services health care and Old Age Security will increase significantly.

An increase in immigration levels is one of the options available to governments to potentially offset the negative effect of an aging population on the economy. The federal government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth itself has made increasing annual immigration levels from 300,000 per year to 450,000 over the next five years.

In this 60 minute webinar, Matthew Stewart will describe how different levels of immigration could shape Canada’s demographic and economic future, including:

  • Canada’s overall population—could there be 100 million Canadians by 2100?
  • Long-term economic outlook due to demographic change—how much growth does immigration add to the Canadian economy over time?
  • Impact of demographic change on public spending—does a higher population increase or decrease the amount required to fund health and social services?

This webinar is based on research conducted by The Conference Board of Canada. The analysis generates long-term population scenarios based on differing assumptions centred on immigration and fertility rates. These assumptions shape the size and age structure of the population, which affects the outlook for the Canadian economy and, in turn, governments’ fiscal resources to pay for public spending programs.

Webinar Highlights

Population growth is influenced by two main factors: the natural increase in the population (births and deaths) and net migration. The analysis includes five population growth scenarios for the next 84 years, based on different assumptions related to the natural increase in population and immigration levels:

  • The Status Quo Scenario: This scenario maintains the existing fertility rate and a constant ratio of immigration levels to Canada’s total population between 2016 and 2100.
  • Medium Scenario: The immigration assumptions here are closest to previous immigration trends and current government policies, leading to annual immigration levels of more than 350,000 in 2030.
  • Younger Immigrants Scenario: If Canada could attract immigrants that are, on average, three years younger than current migrants, it would mean a higher share of the population would be women of child-bearing age. In contrast to the previous scenarios, this would lead to more births than deaths throughout the forecast period.
  • High Population Scenario: This scenario has assumptions of higher immigration between 2030 and 2050 and an increase in the fertility rate from 1.6 children per woman to almost 2 children per woman by 2023.
  • The 100 Million Population Scenario:This scenario incorporates the estimates from the scenario where Canada attracts younger immigrants, and annual immigration levels rise to 408,000 by 2030—as a result, Canada’s population reaches 100 million by 2100.

About Matthew

Photo of Matthew StewartMatthew Stewart is Associate Director, National Forecast at The Conference Board of Canada, specializing in the Canadian and world economy. Matthew is currently advising international clients on the economy and has been assisting the Ukrainian federal government and city level governments in developing strategic plans. In Canada, he has been responsible for designing and building a demand and supply model for physicians based on changing disease patterns. Matthew has a M.A. (Economics) from McMaster University and a B.A. (Honours Economics) from The University of Western Ontario.

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