What Does Canada’s Shrinking Population Mean for You?

by GEM Magazine / Aug 28, 2015 / Comments

It is difficult to argue that the twenty-first century has been anything but exciting; with technology to entertain, communicate, book appointments, purchase commodities and read up on every topic imaginable.

It is no surprise that many describe today’s world as an ‘information society’ intent upon intellectual advancement.

An example of this would be Canada’s strong preference for post-secondary education, as Statistics Canada reported that 64% of Canadians aged 25 to 64 possessed qualifications by 2011. As well, the same study reported that female graduates have outnumbered their male counterparts for quite some time.

As a female post-graduate, it feels good to know women are prioritizing education now more than ever before, as this change in culture allows for a revision of context that removes the domestic “cookie cutter” that women have felt the metal edges of for centuries.

However, along with social developments come new outcomes that require new thoughts and solutions. For example, we have seen a steady incline of women deciding to innovate in the work force rather than raise a family, meaning childbirth is delayed or does not occur.

This can happen for many reasons aside from a higher level of education, such as working to evade financial hardship and debt, increased access to contraception and personal choice.

With this socio-cultural shift comes a new responsibility, as any change in society arrives with new dilemmas; for instance, our new-found issue of maintaining Canada’s population.

The Globe and Mail titled 2013 as the first year in which Canadian retirees would outnumber youth aged 15-24, and many of us were truthfully thrilled by the possibility of less competition in what often feels like a “jobless generation”.

I understand this concept, as I know many intelligent, ambitious alumni, both male and female who are yet to be placed in their field. However, there are outcomes that should stand out more so than the possibility of improved work availability; most crucially, this shift indicates the potential for a weaker Canadian economy in decades to come.

Several may ask: “But how can this be worse for us, if we’re able to attain better occupations?” Unfortunately, whether the work force is more or less competitive, less people entering the workforce means less product, and therefore fewer consumers.

As a young twenty-something with ambitious financial goals to attain, I feel this is a crucial topic to face now rather than later, as many post-graduates are already experiencing the ill pressures of affording housing let alone trying to attain a well-paying occupation.

It bothers me to think that we may spend years seeking education and open-mindedness to change the world only to be cut short and threatened by economic strife as a result of ignoring our population decline.

To those already within full-time roles or in possession of financial security, it is time to think now for later. Fewer employees inevitably translate to more dependants and less tax-payers, thus a threat to our social security and international influence.

Growing old without a pension might become a scary reality for thousands of Canadians, which is something I would rather not think about; and yet, perhaps that is how we got here.

Economic deflation is a likely outcome, while traditional pension plans are growing more challenging to maintain, as the company Towers Watson reported that 66% of respondents feel that Canada will be engulfed within a long-term pension crisis. With a plethora of problems, it is advantageous to examine countries that we are following in the footsteps of.

Two examples of this population phenomenon are Japan and Germany, as Japan encountered its greatest population decrease on record in 2014, while Germany recently passed Japan as having the world’s lowest birth rate, with only 8.2 births per 1,000 residents annually. With education seemingly correlated to a decline in fertility, the irony speaks for itself given that this academic choice with the intention of empowering a country may actually inhibit it in future.

So what is the solution?

Encouraged immigration is an available option, as this can allow for an exchange in cultural knowledge while encouraging the population to grow.

As well, accepting individuals from overly inhabited countries will attain a balance in population density.

Japan is currently working to achieve this, in making necessary adjustments to immigration policies; in fact, their simulation predicts that accepting 200,000 immigrants annually will achieve stability.

Also, it may be beneficial to examine the balance between work and family, as those who abstain from conception for financial reasons may be able to contribute to the solution upon receiving a form of aid. For example, individuals living in metropolitan areas of Japan often experience difficulty in finding child care facilities with available placement; removing many of the stresses behind the decision to have a family may alleviate fertility decline.

It is vital that we progress this dialogue in order to avoid harsh consequences in the future. In exploring the developments occurring in other countries also experiencing a population decline, we are more able to assess our situation and effectively plan to develop strategies to withstand our threshold.

In discussing it, I feel we are able to consider and identify several effective methods to relieve this problem, while accepting new socio-cultural changes like the evolution of women’s roles, and that of many others.

It is crucial to note that while balancing the country’s population is imperative to our economy and influence, this predicament of lacking individuals is often only found in developed countries.

Our global accumulation is another story, as I recommend you check out the worldometer for an idea of how quickly we grow internationally each second.

By Paige Strand.

Paige is committed to cultural innovation, as she aims to create thought-provoking dialogue while balancing her career in Communications and Public Relations. She feels that only through complex discussion can we fully identify new ideas and solutions to implement political, economic and social change.

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Linked In - https://www.linkedin.com/in/paigestrand
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