Immigration surge fuels male population boom in Canada

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An influx of new immigrants is shifting Canada’s gender ratio, as a higher share of male newcomers helps squeeze the female majority to its smallest margin in decades.

The population of adult men grew 3.4 per cent over the past year, while women rose 2.9 per cent, making the spread between the growth of the two groups the widest in nearly 50 years of records, according to an analysis by Doug Porter, chief economist at Bank of Montreal.

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The gap is even larger in the 25-to-44 age group, in which men have seen a 4.8 per cent jump and women a 3.9 per cent increase. There are 141,000 more men than women in this age bracket as of January, compared with a long-run average difference of zero.

“What we’ve seen in the last 10 years is that the growth rate in the male population has steadily been rising faster than the female population in that age group. It seems to be something a little bit more permanent,” Porter said.

The figures highlight the country’s changing demographic trends due to its liberal immigration policy, which aims to rapidly expand the pool of workers to stave long-term economic decline from an aging populace.

Canada’s population growth accelerated to 3.2 per cent over a one-year period to Oct. 1, faster than any Group of Seven nation, China or India. Almost all of the increase was driven by a surge in international migration, especially among foreign students and temporary workers.

From the late 1970s to around the early 2010s, Canada’s population increasingly skewed female, but the trend has been reversing over the past decade as the male cohort grew faster. In 2022, the gap between men and women was at its narrowest in more than 30 years.

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Canada population less female

Globally, advanced economies with older populations tend to have more women because they generally live longer. Countries with a higher share of young people, on the other hand, tend to skew male, while government policies can amplify that disparity. Large migrant worker populations have also led to wide sex imbalances in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

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“The issue is less economic in the short term than it is social and economic in the long term,” said Armine Yalnizyan, a labour economist and a research fellow at the Atkinson Foundation, an equality-focused charitable group.

“Because it means that we are putting the premium on dealing with labour shortages and economic needs and forgetting that we are humans who need to form families, who get sick, who get old.”

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