Demographic Trends Into the Twenty First Century
Population Growth - Nova Scotia
At the turn of the twentieth century there were 460,000 residents in Nova Scotia and 5.4 million in Canada. Almost all of the Canadian population at the time was east of Manitoba. In the first three decades of the century, however, this changed, as the west was settled, central Canada became industrialized, and the population of the country doubled. Growth in Nova Scotia, however, was slow and actually declined during the recession of the early thirties. Only during the war years of the early forties did growth in the province exceed that of the nation. While growth in Nova Scotia in the late forties and the fifties was well below the national level, growth in both decades exceeded ten percent.
The effect of birth control started to be reflected in population growth in the seventies. The Canadian population slowed from a growth of 30% in the fifties, to 20% in the sixties and 13% in the seventies. In Nova Scotia the growth rate in the seventies was less than half the growth rate of the fifties. By 1981 there were 12,000 live births in the province, only about 60% of the level in 1961. Part of the decline in live births over this period can be attributed to an increasing number of abortions -official numbers show an increase from 643 in 1971 to almost 1,700 in 1981. The total fertility rate per female aged 15 to 49 years dropped from 4.2 in 1961 to 1.6 in 1981.
While births were declining, the number of deaths were increasing gradually, from 6,100 in 1961 to 7,000 in 1981. The natural increase of the population (live births minus deaths) fell from a high of 13,200 in 1961 to 5,100 by 1981. This decline in the natural increase of the population has started to accelerate in the first half of the nineties, dropping from 4,800 in 1991 to 2,900 in 1995. While the total fertility rate has held steady since 1981, the declining numbers of women in the child bearing ages has resulted in a decline in the number of births from 12,000 to 11,000 in the past five years. At the same time increasing numbers of elderly persons resulted in a 12% increase in the number of deaths in the province in the past five years.
Assuming that the fertility rate holds at 1.6, births in Nova Scotia will drop to 9,800 by 2001 and to 8,500 by 2021, due to even further declines in the numbers of females in the 15 to 49 age bracket.
The growth in life expectancy of the population is projected to abate in the next several decades. In the two decades from 1971 to 1991 life expectancy for females in Nova Scotia increased by 4.7 years, to 80.7 years, while for males there was and increase of 5.2 years, to 73.9 years. Over the thirty years to 2021 life expectancy is projected to increase by 3.2 years for females and by 4.3 years for males. This will reduce the difference in life span, of males versus females, to 5.7 years from the current 6.8 years.
Despite the above extended life expectancy, the annual number of deaths in the province will jump from the present 8,100 to 8,900 by 2001, to 9,800 by 2011 and to 11,000 by 2021. These trends are based on the continuing growth of those in the advanced age groups and indicates that by approximately the year 2005 the annual number of deaths will begin to exceed the number of births. If net in-migration (combined inter-provincial and international) is not positive, the population of the province will begin to decline at that time.
Before making any assumption regarding when, or if, the population will decline, we should look at migration trends and several other factors that have had, or will have, a bearing on migration.