The first results from the 2006 Census show that Canada experienced more rapid population growth than any other G8 country between 2001 and 2006 (see Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006: National portrait: Population growth is up). Canada is also one of the youngest countries in the G8, as only the United States has a lower proportion of elderly people (12.4% compared with 13.7%).
Figure 4 Proportion of persons aged 65 years and over among the G8 countries in 2006
The difference is largely due to the fact that the American fertility rate is higher than the Canadian rate (about 2 children per woman, compared with 1.5), and, as a consequence, the proportion of children who are aged less than 15 years is higher in the United States than in Canada. Life expectancy is also lower in the United States (75.2 years for men and 80.4 years for women) than in Canada (77.7 years for men and 82.5 years for women).
Other countries already have a high proportion of persons aged 65 or more. In Japan, Germany and Italy, roughly one person in five is 65 years or older. Those countries have the highest proportions of elderly people in the world. In comparison, the proportion of elderly people in Canada would reach the 20% mark by about the year 2024. Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world, at 82.8 years (both sexes combined). The fertility rates of women living in Japan, Germany and Italy are also below that of Canada, at about 1.3 children per woman.
While Canada may be among the youngest of the G8 countries, it had the oldest population of the Americas in 2006. For example, just 5% of Mexico's population was age 65 and over. Elsewhere, for example in India (4.0%) or China (8.0%), the population of developing regions generally had a younger population than in Canada.