Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick
Legislative Committees
Home | Franšais

New Brunswick at the Dawn of a New Century

III. WHAT IS DEMOGRAPHY AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Demography is the branch of social sciences concerned with the study of human populations, their structure and change (through births, deaths, and migration), and their relationship with the natural environment and with social and economic change. Demographic indicators could include population size, population growth rate, crude birth rate, crude death rate, total fertility rate, life expectancy and infant mortality . As well, it would include estimated and projected gender and age distributions according to medium, high, low and constant fertility variants. In short, demographic changes affect all areas of human activity: economic, social, cultural and political.

To a large extent, the realities of population size and growth, and of population characteristics and distribution, govern, or at least set some broad outer limits upon, what is possible for the economy and for governments and the corporate world within the economy.
Thomas Symons, Chair, British-North American Committee Working Group on Demographics


Those who follow this field of social science believe demographics can play a crucial role in understanding past trends and in preparing for future developments and policies. Furthermore, they believe that understanding demographic developments can provide important explanations of observed economic and social trends. Consequently, demography becomes an important ingredient in public policy analysis and development.

Demographically, New Brunswick's population profile will be much different in the next century. Life expectancy is increasing, and fertility continues to be low. Furthermore, the New Brunswick population, like most North American societies, is aging and will likely begin to decline early in the next century. It is for this reason then, that New Brunswick is at a crossroads.

Aging populations are likely to put significant pressure on public spending programs, especially health care and pensions.
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development


New Brunswick's changing population dynamics has significant long-term implications for economic and social policy, and New Brunswickers will only make wise choices about their future if the effects of demographic change are better understood.

Many economists and demographers believe the present slow rate of population growth in New Brunswick could have significant consequences. This, coupled with the anticipated changes in our fiscal arrangements with the Federal Government, and the deep restructuring of our global economy, will likely provoke economic and social challenges of some magnitude.

Demographic trends are essentially long-term. You can ignore them this year, you can ignore them next year. But if you ignore them over time, they'll get you in the end.
Dr. David Foot, University of Toronto


Public policy makers in New Brunswick then, are under great pressure to understand the dynamics of economic and demographic change. All of these factors pose a challenge of great importance and consequence, thus demography, and demographic analysis is an obvious consideration if we are to achieve and maintain overall priorities. The most fundamental tenet of demographics is that society, to a large degree, creates demographic influences and trends with its present decisions, discoveries, policies, actions or inactions.

With proper planning, and careful utilization of resources, New Brunswick's future population can be as dynamic and prosperous as it is today.




Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick
Email | Contacts |
Disclaimer