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Environics Analytics’ PRIZM system that is, in turn, used in many direct- and target-marketing initiatives. As a result of the consistent collection of these robust

data across time and place, analysts were able to easily identify important demographic, economic and social trends that allowed for effective planning and the efficient allocation of both public and private resources. The following four trends are illustrations of the vital information these surveys are able to identify—trends that, going forward, may be obscured given the recent changes to the Census.

 Immigrants Driving Population Growth: Canada has the fastest population growth of any country in the G-8.4 Although population growth has averaged 1% a year for over three decades, the underlying determinants of growth have changed. Historically, natural increase (more births than deaths) was the main driver of population growth. However, this level of natural increase has been on the decline, while the other determinant of growth, immigration, has taken over. International migration currently accounts for about two-thirds of all population growth.

 Growth Concentrated in Urban Areas: The immigrants that are driving population growth in Canada are primarily settling in larger urban areas. Between 2006 and 2011, the six largest census metropolitan areas of Canada that represent nearly half of Canada’s population, accounted for two-thirds of total population growth. Toronto and Vancouver census metropolitan areas have a high concentration of immigrants—48% and 40%, respectively.

 Aging Population: Today, close to 15% of Canada’s population is over the age of 65, and this share is expected to increase to nearly 25% in another two decades. This rapid aging is due to a combination of continuing low fertility and the large “baby boom” cohort moving into their sixties and seventies. Over the next few decades, the population over 65 will double and account for most of the growth in market size and consumer expenditures.

 Female Cohort Increasing in Size and Impact: Because women generally live longer than men, the size of the female population in Canada is growing faster than the male population. In general, young women tend to be more highly educated than men

and are increasingly in better-paid professional and managerial occupations. Over the last decade the median income for women has increased at a faster rate than men, and today women earn more than their husbands in about 30% of husband-wife families.

These “big picture” demographic trends clearly have

important implications for retailers. However, what is even more important for individual retailers is how these and other trends play out in local trade areas around shopping centers and other retail establishments. Shifts in population may open opportunities for new stores and lead to inventory shifts and a fundamental retailer reexamination of how to market to a different demographic. To understand these more local trends, one needs data for specific trade areas, leading to the question of how the quality and availability of Census data changed in 2011.

The 2011 Census Program In 2011, a major change took place in the Canadian

Census program. While the equivalent of the short-form census remained in place, with content that was basically the same and whose completion continued to be required,5 the previous long-form questionnaire was no longer mandatory. Renamed the National Household Survey (NHS), this voluntary survey was similar to the 2006 long form. However, in recognition of an expected much lower response rate, the sample size for the NHS was increased from 20% in 2006 to about 30% in 2011. The decision to create a voluntary NHS was made by

the Federal government, which has the final authority over the Census, including its questions. The purported reason for the change was that some observers believed that the previous mandatory long-form Census unnecessarily intruded into the privacy of Canadians. In response, the government suggested that adequate information for most purposes could be obtained through a voluntary survey. Many data users expressed concern about the

implications of a voluntary survey,6 especially about possible bias resulting from different response rates by various population groups, as well as about the impact on small-area data. (Box 8-1 discusses the data-quality issues that arose as the NHS was conducted.)

4 The G8, or Group of Eight, is an assembly of eight of the world’s 11 largest national economies, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan,

Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 5 The 2011 short form included questions on languages spoken at home and knowledge of official language previously on the long form. For more

information on why this change was made, see this report by Statistics Canada. 6 See, for example, Michael Adams, “From Compulsory to Voluntary Longform Census: What We Stand to Lose,” Policy Options, November 2010, retrieved July 2, 2013.


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