Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick
Legislative Committees
Home | Franšais

New Brunswick at the Dawn of a New Century

B - C - D - E - F - G


New Brunswick's dynamic demographic changes are reshaping the Province's population as we know it. For the past several years, New Brunswick's population has been growing at a rate below the national average; a trend that is expected to continue well into the next century.


A. Population Profile

New Brunswick's population, in 1995, was estimated at 760,500. Women constituted 50.5% of New Brunswick's population, with men comprising 49.5% of the total population. Correspondingly, in 1994, the median age for New Brunswickers was 34.2 years; 35.0 for women and 33.4 for men.

The following chart illustrates New Brunswick's population pyramid according to the 1994 postcensal population estimates. It is interesting to note the effects of the First World War still being reflected in New Brunswick's demographic profile, with those aged 75-79 (who were born between 1915-1919) clearly standing out as a relatively small cohort. This is followed by the larger cohort of the "Roaring 20's" (born between 1920-1929) when total fertility rates remained high (above 3.2 children per women). The 1920's children are followed by the "Depression" cohort of the 1930's (aged between 56 and 64 or born 1930-38), when fertility rates declined below 2.65 in 1937.


The "baby boom" generation are those born between 1947-1966, and are between the ages of 49-30 today. They are represented in the age groups 30-34 to 45-49. By the year 2011, this cohort will begin retiring. Subsequently, the Province will witness a serious aging process whereby there is an increase in the relative weight of the elderly in the total population. As they get older, "baby boomers" will inevitably exert additional pressures on political and social institutions. Moreover, by the time the "baby boom" generation retires, roughly one in every five New Brunswick residents will be 65 years of age or more, compared to approximately one in 10 today. Baby boomers will continue to be the largest cohort of the population until about the middle of the next century.

It [negative net migration] represents some problems. It creates greater dependency in the region, you end up with more young people and more older people than in other parts of the country, so that determines somewhat the cost of services that governments have to provide, so it creates some issues for government for example.
Campbell Morrison, Telegraph Journal, Thursday, August 24, 1995

The period between 1967 and 1979 has been labeled the "baby bust" generation in Canada, for it is during these years that fertility rates dropped at an astonishing rate. Women were entering the labor force at much greater levels, and birth control was being introduced, which, in turn, had a substantial impact on lowering population growth.

The "echo boom" generation is the miniboom expected from the offspring of the baby boom generation. Unlike many Canadian provinces, the echo boom failed to materialize in New Brunswick. It is believed that the out migration of baby boomers to other provinces in the late 1960's and 1970's contributed to this phenomenon.

You are in a unique position. You are the only province in Canada where the base of the pyramid is declining, but that means that elementary school enrollments continue to decline, high school enrollments continue to decline, and university enrollments are about to plummet in this province. There are far fewer 10-year-olds around than 20-year-olds and far fewer 1-year-olds around than 10-year-olds.
Dr. David Foot, University of Toronto

Aboriginal People

The Aboriginal population in new Brunswick was estimated at 8,7001 in 1991; just under 1% of the total population. Of this number, approximately 70% resided within the fifteen First Nations communities. Today, there are nine MicMac and six Maliseet communities in the province.


The age distribution of the Aboriginal population differs significantly from the age distribution of the total provincial population. The Aboriginal population is concentrated in the younger age groups with corresponding lower proportions in the older age groups. In 1991, there were 37.3% of children under 15 years of age in the Aboriginal population, compared to 20.8% in the total population. Likewise, for ages 15-24, the Aboriginal proportion was 18.8% compared to 15.3% for the total population. Thus, 56% of the Aboriginal population was under the age of 25, as opposed to 36% of the total population. In sharp contrast, there were merely 7.1% of adults over 55 years of age in the Aboriginal population compared to 20.4% in the total population.


B.Linguistic Profile

According to the 1991 census, 64.5% of New BrunswickÆs population indicated that English was their mother tongue, while 33% of the populace indicated that French was their mother tongue. New Brunswick remains CanadaÆs only officially bilingual province.


C.New Brunswick's Fertility Rate

A total fertility rate of 2.1 is necessary to maintain the Province's current population level without immigration factored in. The fertility rate in New Brunswick in 1994 stood at 1.50. This rate makes it very difficult to increase or even maintain population growth. If this situation continues, we will have to rely to a greater degree on interprovincial migration and immigration to sustain our population. New Brunswick however, has not been a primary destination for immigrants coming to Canada. In fact, New Brunswick receives only 0.3% of the total immigrants coming to Canada.


D.An Aging Population


A slower population growth means an aging population, and the New Brunswick population, like the Canadian population, is aging. In fact, New Brunswick's population is likely to age as much in the final 20 years of the twentieth century, as it did in the previous 80 years. In 1994, the median age of the New Brunswick population was 34.2 years, up 6.1 years since 1981, and 10.3 years from just over two decades earlier (1971).

An aging population is usually characterized by a declining proportion of young and an increasing proportion of elderly people. In 1994, those aged 65 and over numbered 93,400, and represented 12.3% of the population; up from 78,700, or 11.1% in 1986. Of these, 40,300, or 5.3% were aged seventy-five years and over, and 9,500, or 1.3% were aged eighty-five and over; a marked increase in the number of senior citizens.


E.Life Expectancy


The rise in life expectancy has also contributed to population aging. In New Brunswick, the current life expectancy is 81.4 for females, and 74.9 for males, compared to a combined total of 67.8 in 1950, and 72.5 in 1970. This increase resulted mainly from declining rates of infant mortality, and deaths from certain childhood and adult diseases. Improved housing, sanitation, nutrition and health services are responsible for the decline in mortality.


F.Return to Rural Areas

New Brunswick has one of the highest rural non-farm populations in Canada. Urban populations in New Brunswick consistently declined over the 1976-1991 period. Urban share of the population dropped from 53.3% in 1976 to 47.7% in 1991. Likewise, since 1986, New Brunswick has had a larger rural population than urban.


Moreover, we live in small communities. In 1991, just under 91% of New Brunswick census subdivisions had a population of less than 5000 people. In 1995, there were 7 cities, 28 towns, 78 villages and 152 parishes.

New Brunswick differs from other provinces because of its rural setting. There are no drive-by shootings or gang wars that appear to be escalating in cities in other Canadian provinces.
RCMP Cpl. Jim McAnamy

Out of 287 census subdivisions in New Brunswick, only 18 had a population density of at least 400 people per square kilometer. The Oromocto First Nation reserve had the highest population density of all N.B. geographies. Saint John and Westmorland counties were the most densely populated in 1991. Queens and Victoria were the least populated.


G.Population Projections


The above chart illustrates a 15-year population projection. The New Brunswick Statistics Agency's (N.B.S.A) population projection methodology starts with the base population, then uses the age of the population by one year, calculates the number of births, and calculates net migrants, thus, resulting in the projection above. The population projection methodology is a simplified version of the Statistics Canada projection exercise.

The above projections are based on the assumption that fertility will be kept constant over the projected period. The N.B.S.A. also chose one assumption for life expectancy. New Brunswick male life expectancy is projected to be 77.1, and female life expectancy is expected to be 83.2; 99.6% of the national level. The overall outcome for New Brunswick is one of slowing population growth with births declining and deaths increasing.

The reason for this shift is that Canada is moving from an industrial to an information economy. And the reason provinces like New Brunswick stand to benefit is because moving information costs nothing compared with moving goods, and because the province has a highly developed capacity to move that information-via NBTel's high quality telecommunications system. Roll into that lower housing costs, a good quality of life and a province that runs its finances well, and you've got a recipe for future prosperity.
Eveon Hoey, Telegraph Journal, September 2, 1995

Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick
Email | Contacts |