Two centuries of demographic change in Canada


  • Barry Edmonston



fertility, mortality, demographic transition, intrinsic vital rates, population momentum


One key aspect of the demographic transition—the shift from high mortality and high fertility to low mortality and low fertility is a major change in the population’s age distribution from a pyramid-shaped young age structure to a pillar-shaped old age structure. This paper discusses two demographic processes affected by changes in age structure. First, there are effects on vital rates, with important differences in the observed crude rates and the implied intrinsic vital rates. Second, changes in age structure influence population momentum. More recently, demographers have noted that older age distributions associated with fertility levels below replacement have negative population momentum. Although the demographic transition has been well-described for many countries, demographers have seldom analyzed intrinsic vital rates and population momentum over time, which are dynamic processes affected by changes in the population age structure and which, in turn, influence future changes in population growth and size. This paper uses new data and methods to analyze intrinsic vital rates and population momentum across two centuries of demographic change in Canada