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Facts & Figures:  Aging in Canada and the World   To Aging theme page

2. Nice to Know

Canada, as many other countries, is experiencing a rapid aging of the population.   The trend will accelerate over the coming years, as the "baby boomers", born after World War II, reach retirement age.

Year Number of Canadians Aged 65 + Percentage of Total Population
1851 65,000 2.7%
1901 272,000 5.1%
1951 1,09 million 7.75%
1998 3.7 million 12.3%
2016 5.9 million 15.9%
2021 6.9 million 17.8%
2041 9.7 million 22.6%


The demographic trend reflects a combination of overall population growth (although birth rates have fallen to around the replacement rate), immigration patterns and greater longevity. 

Life expectancy at birth in Canada has risen steadily:

1920 58.8 60.6
1950 66.4 70.9
1980 71.9 79.1
1990 73.9 80.5
2000 77.0 82.1


The women seem to be gaining faster than the men; gender ratios in 1991 indicated that that there were about 100 women for every 44 men aged 85+ : a lot of widows. 

Link to National Advisory Council on Aging web page: information on seniors in Canada.
There's a feast of information on Seniors' Info from the Ontario Seniors' Secretariat; the site gives basic demographic information, plus data on lifestyles and a range of health conditions.
End of life carePalliative care

3. Additional Information

World Data on Aging

The number of elderly people in the world is expected to increase from 542 million in 1995 to about 1.2 billion in 2025  (WHO figures).  Here are the percentages of the population aged 65+ in selected regions of the world:

  1950 1970 1990 (2025)
Africa 3.2 3.1 3.0 4.1
Latin America 3.3 3.9 4.8 8.6
North America 8.1 9.6 12.5 19.9
Asia 4.0 4.0 5.0 9.6
Europe 8.7 11.4 13.4 20.1
Oceania 7.5 7.3 9.0 13.9
USSR 6.1 7.4 9.6 14.8
World 5.1 5.4 6.2 9.7

Incidentally, many European countries have already undergone this aging of the population. Here is a picture showing the declining birth and death rates in Spain during the past century.  The decline in death rates preceded the decline in births, giving a natural population growth until about 1990; the decline in both rates means that the population is aging, and the fact that the two rates are now virtually identical means that natural population growth has ceased.

Just for fun, here are the resulting proportions of elderly men and women in Spain (thanks to Dr. Francisco Guillen Llera for the data)

Graph showing the rising percentage of elderly men and women in Spain, 1900 to 2026.

Chart showing rising life Expectancy at Birth in Spain

Links  Institutional care in Canada;   Merck Manual of Geriatrics

    Declining years - Period when you can decline all invitations to dull parties by pretending to be too old and feeble.
        Mike Barfield

Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.