As of the 2016 census, 367,770 people called the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area home. That is up 6.7% or an extra 23,155 people in 5 years. That rate of increase is a fair bit above the 4.4% increase from 2006 to 2011 so we are growing faster than we used to.
The population breakdown looks like this.
So what if we take a look at how things have changed over the years by age group?
Wow! A veritable explosion in the seniors population! Surely this is because Victoria is the best place to retire in Canada. After hearing about how they’re coming for the last decade, finally they have arrived. As coverage confirmed, “retirees are the driving force behind the Capital Region’s population spike between 2011 and 2016”.
One more look though before we accept that theory. Conveniently enough the age groups are divided by 5 years, and censuses are taken ever 5 years as well. So Victorians who were between 30 and 34 in 2011 were between 35 and 39 in 2016. That is, if they didn’t move away or croak. When we advance the ages from 2011 and compare to 2016, the picture looks quite different.
Now we can see why that seniors population exploded. People who were somewhat less senior in 2011 got a little more senior in 2016. Funny how that works. We can see that the differences now are much smaller, so let’s see where the population actually changed and by how much.
What is this graph telling us? It shows that after taking into account people aging, how much the population in 2016 changed in each age group. For example:
- There was a large increase in people aged 20-24 that is not accounted for by aging. Part of this is due to the normal university bump, and the other part of it is due to growth at UVic (largely by international students) and Camosun. An interesting secondary here is that aging the university bump did not result in a negative in the 25-29 group. Possibly evidence of more people staying in Victoria after university? Needs more investigation.
- There was a moderate increase in working adults between 35 and 65. Perhaps coming here for tech and construction jobs? Or returning from Alberta?
- The number of people between 70 and 74 stayed about the same. What does this mean? Some people who were 65-69 in 2011 died in those 5 years and some moved away. A few also moved here, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a small decline in that age group.
- The number of people over 75 declined sharply. This makes sense because with increasing age mortality increases, and there aren’t enough 75+ people moving here to make up the difference.
In conclusion, the driving force behind capital region population increases between 2011 and 2016 is not seniors but rather university students and working age adults primarily between the ages of 35 and 50.
So far there is little evidence of a mass retiree migration to Victoria with only an additional 950 people ages 60-69 that are not explained by the population aging in place. However, as Patrick pointed out in the comments these 950 people are not the number of people that moved here but rather the net difference after taking into account aging. That is, from 2011 to 2016:
People moving to Victoria aged 60-69 MINUS people moving away in that age group MINUS people dying in that age group = 950
So the people that moved to Victoria in those 5 years is definitely significantly more than 950. We can’t measure the people moving away so the best we can get is net migration (people moving here minus people moving away). To get there we need an estimate for how many residents died in those 5 years. Based on actuarial tables, that should be just under 3% of the 55-64 year olds that lived here in 2011, or 1565 people. Therefore net migration in the 60-69 age group between 2011 and 2016 is approximately 2515 people or about 500 per year. I’ll publish a followup article that takes into account mortality across the range to conclusively identify the largest group of newcomers to the region.