September 29, 2015 / 6:24 PM / in 5 years

Canada elderly outnumber children for first time

People look out at the Toronto skyline from Tommy Thompson Park located on a man-made peninsula known as the Leslie Street Spit, in Toronto August 9, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The number of people aged 65 and over has exceeded the number of children in Canada for the first time, with the proportion of the elderly only expected to increase as the Baby Boom generation gets older, data showed on Tuesday.

Many countries in the industrialized world are facing aging populations, and the trend has potential ramifications for both economic growth and the labor market as older workers retire.

Nearly one in six Canadians, or 16.1 percent, were at least 65 years old as of July, amounting to a record 5.78 million people, preliminary estimates from Statistics Canada showed. In comparison, there were 5.75 million Canadians under the age of 15, making up 16.0 percent of the population.

By 2024, the number of elderly should grow to 20.1 percent of the population, while the number of children is expected to increase only slightly to 16.3 percent.

Nonetheless, Canada’s current proportion of seniors is among the lowest of its Group of Seven industrialized peers, second to that of the United States, the agency said. Japan’s population is among the oldest in the world with its share of elderly at 26 percent.

Overall, Canada’s estimated population was 35.85 million, up 0.9 percent over the last year. Although that was the lowest population increase since 1998-99, it was the largest increase among G7 countries over a comparable period, the report said.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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