February 26, 2024

Weekly EconMinute—Alberta’s age distribution

In this week’s EconMinute, we’re talking about Alberta’s age distribution.

For decades Alberta has prided itself on having one of Canada’s youngest populations. With the aging of the baby boomers and a recent surge in in-migration, we were eager to explore how Alberta’s demographic landscape has changed, and how this compares to trends nationally. Are we getting older? Or is the influx of younger migrants pushing the median age lower?

For some time, Alberta has had one of the youngest populations with a median age of 37 years, around 4 years below the national median. However, in recent years, Alberta’s population has continued to grow older while Canada’s has grown slightly younger. To gain insight into what’s driving this, we look at population growth of different age categories.


Here is what we discovered:

  • From 2022 to 2023, Alberta saw strong population growth across most age groups, but it was most notable among younger age groups (those age 15 – 29) and older ones (age 60+).
  • Specifically, the 15-29 age group grew around 5% in Alberta, a big increase versus population projections from a few years ago which expected this age group to grow at just 3% (based on the “medium growth scenarios” average).
  • Though growth in this age group was similar nation-wide, the jump versus initial projections (of just 1.4%) was much sharper, driven by the increase in immigration and, in particular, international students.
  • Meanwhile, older age groups are growing at a faster rate in Alberta than across Canada as a whole. For instance, Alberta’s population age 60 to 69 increased by 4.2% over the year, nearly double Canada’s 2.3% increase and higher than projections expected.  

This suggests that Alberta’s population, though still younger, may be aging at a faster rate into these older cohorts. What’s driving this—whether that be older individuals moving to the province or simply the current population growing older—is less clear. Regardless, with a growing number of individuals entering an older demographic comes the many challenges already felt across Canada that the province will need to prepare for, including increased pressure on the healthcare system and a wave of retirements. We may not have as many grey hairs, but they’re getting harder to cover up.

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