Millennials are now the dominant generation in the country, Statistics Canada says.

The federal statistics agency said Wednesday that millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, surpassed the baby boomer generation on July 1, 2023.

Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1965, became the dominant generation in 1958, seven years before the last baby boomer was even born, Statistics Canada said.

“For 65 years, they remained the largest generation in the Canadian population. From the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, baby boomers accounted for around 40 per cent of the population,” the agency said in a report.

“By comparison, millennials' demographic weight will never reach the level of baby boomers' and is expected to peak at its current level of 23 per cent, according to the most recent population projections.”

While aging is a factor in the decline of baby boomers, millennials' rise in the ranks is largely due to the recent arrival of a record number of permanent and temporary immigrants, Statistics Canada said.

From July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023, the millennial population increased by 457,354, exclusively due to the arrival of permanent and temporary immigrants. This increase exceeds the annual growth of the young Generation Alpha (+454,133) — the members of which have been born since 2013. That generation’s rise is largely driven by birth.

Millennials aside, Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2012, has become the third-largest generation in Canada, surpassing Generation X, born between 1966 and 1980.

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“Notably, Generation X, whose members were born during a period of sharply declining fertility, will never have been the largest generation in Canada,” Statistics Canada said.

“According to the latest population projections, Generation Z could overtake millennials in numbers between 2038 and 2053.”

Wednesday’s report showed the proportion of the population aged 15 to 64 years increased between July 1, 2022, and July 1, 2023. It called this “an uncommon event in recent years,” as large cohorts of baby boomers are leaving this group as they reach 65.

After peaking at 69.5 per cent in 2007, the proportion of the population aged 15 to 64 years declined until 2022 to 65.5 per cent, before rising again to 65.7 per cent in 2023.

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“This change may benefit Canadian society by increasing the size of the working-age population, possibly helping to alleviate the pressures of sectoral labour shortages,” Statistics Canada said.

“However, the high number of new working age Canadians may also put pressure on the delivery of services to the population, housing, transportation and infrastructure.”

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Canada's population aging is driven by the baby boomers, whose large, youngest cohorts will continue to reach the age of 65 years until 2030, Statistics Canada said.

On July 1, 2023, more than two-thirds of people aged 65 years and older were members of the baby boomer generation.

The remaining third were members of the interwar generation, born between 1928 and 1945, and the greatest generation, born before 1928.

The proportion of people aged 65 years and older continued to rise, reaching 18.9 per cent on July 1, 2023, a 0.1 per cent increase compared with one year earlier. This is due to the fact that population growth among those aged 65 years and older (3.6 per cent) was higher than that of the overall population (2.9 per cent) during this period.

In the Atlantic provinces and Quebec, baby boomers remained the generation with the largest numbers, Statistics Canada said.

Ontario and British Columbia were the two provinces where millennials surpassed baby boomers from July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023, as was the case for Canada as a whole.

In the Prairies, this shift had occurred before; Alberta was the first province where millennials outnumbered baby boomers in 2014.

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In Yukon and the Northwest Territories, millennials have also been the largest generation for a few years. Nunavut stands out from the other provinces and territories, as Generation Z has been the largest generation since 2011. This is mainly due to a higher fertility rate in Nunavut than in the rest of Canada, making the population particularly young.

“The gap between the provinces with the youngest and oldest populations tends to widen over time,” Statistics Canada said.

“This is the result of faster population aging in provinces that are already the oldest. In particular, these provinces tend to have lower fertility rates and, in addition, have experienced repeated interprovincial migration losses of young adults from the late 1970s to the early 2010s.”

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