Who Are Canada’s Elderly? Facts & Figures

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 in Planning |

The term “senior” broadly refers to someone over the age of 65. Your perception of a typical senior may be derived from the examples of your own family and friends, your socio-economic status, your work experiences, or even from advertising images. Some of these facts may be familiar; others may surprise you.

Age and life expectancy: Canada’s population has been aging for several decades. Currently, about 12% of Canadians are 65 or older. The fastest growing age segment in Canada is 80 years or older. In 1997, the average life expectancy at birth was 75.8 for males and 81.4 for females. In the last 20 years, the gap between male and female mortality rates has narrowed.


Gender: Elderly women outnumber elderly men and this margin increases with age. Women make up about 58% of those 65 and older and nearly 70% of those 85 plus.


Marital status and living arrangements: Senior men are more likely than senior women to live with a spouse. By 65 years of age, 7% of men and 32% of women are widowed. For those 85 years and older, 39% of men and 79% of women have lost a spouse. Senior women are more likely to live alone, resulting in a much greater risk of institutionalization. The vast majority of Canada’s seniors – 93% – live in private households, mainly in urban areas.


Education: Many of Canada’s current seniors did not have today’s educational opportunities. Only 8% hold a university degree (compared with 17% of 25-64 year-olds), another 12% have a diploma or certificate. Twenty-five per cent (25%) attended but did not graduate from high school, and 37% have attained an education of Grade 9 or less. Education is closely associated with higher income levels which, in turn, tend to result in better health.


Paid work: About 6% of seniors are in the paid workforce (57% are 65-69 years, and 18% are 75 plus). Employed seniors are more likely than other age groups to be self-employed. Most common occupations among employed seniors are farming, sales, and management.


Income: Senior women have a lower average annual income ($16,070) than senior men ($26,150). The main income sources are OAS, CPP/QPP and retirement pensions. Seniors spend about 59% of their annual income on food, shelter, clothing and transportation. On average they spend 6-7% on health and personal care.


Activities: Thirty-seven per-cent (37%) of seniors take part in weekly religious activities. About 50% of seniors report being physically active on a regular basis. On average they spend 5 hours per day watching television.



Vol.2, No.13; © ElderWise Inc. 2006


Our thanks to Judy Worrell for her contribution to this edition of ElderWise Info.


You have permission to reprint this or any other ElderWise INFO articles, provided you reproduce it in its entirety, acknowledge our copyright, and include the following statement: Originally published by ElderWise Inc., Canada’s go-to place for “age-smart” planning. Visit us at www.elderwise.ca and subscribe to our FREE e-newsletter.


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