March 28, 2022

Weekly EconMinute—Canada’s fertility rate

In this week’s EconMinute, we’re talking about trends in Canada’s and Alberta’s fertility rate.

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For much of the 65 years since the end of the post-World War II baby boom, and in line with high-income countries around the world, Canada’s (and Alberta’s) fertility rate has been in decline. This trend has accelerated since the 2008 financial crisis after a brief period of modest growth.

The total fertility rate (TFR) is the average number of children that a woman is statistically expected to give birth to in her lifetime based on the age-specific fertility rates of a given calendar year.

For a population to maintain its current size through natural growth, the average woman would have to give birth to approximately 2.1 children in her lifetime. This is called the replacement fertility rate (RFR). The wider the gap by which the RFR exceeds the TFR, the more immigration is necessary for a country to sustain its population level. Populations that fail to maintain their size often struggle to pay for services as the average citizen’s age increases.

  • In 2020, Canada’s TFR fell to a record-low 1.40, a decline of about 17.2% since 2008 and 18.6% since 1991.
  • Alberta’s TFR is higher than the Canadian average but still falling. Alberta’s TFR in 2020 was 1.51, 20.5% below both 1991 levels and 2008 levels.
  • Since 1991, the fertility rate for Canadian women aged 15-29 has decreased by 51%, whereas the rate for women aged 30-49 has increased by 45%.
  • According to UN estimates, Canada’s TFR has not been above replacement level since 1971.

For a deeper discussion on fertility rates and the economy, we suggest checking out our piece We’re having fewer children. Now what?

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