BC Population Change, 2010
by William Warren Munroe, April 15, 2011

Net International Migration is negative for the first time in over 4 decades.

The 2010 fourth quarter estimates of the factors of population change have recently been released by Statistics Canada. Changes to the natural change (births minus deaths) and migration offer insight into fundamental changes occurring in BC.

In the last quarter of 2010, total net migration, made up of both international and interprovincial net migration, declined sharply.

Figure #1: Total Net Migration, 2010

The sharp peaks and valleys are due to the difference in migration bewteen summer and winter. The addition of a trendline is an attempt to find the central tendancy.

Annual estimates of migration show that 2007 and 2008 saw the most positive net migration for interprovincial and international migration respectively, followed by declines. This cyclical rise and fall in migration was forecasted and presented to the BC provincial government in 2004, and is explained in the paper "Migration between Core and Peripheral Areas" found on the Articles page.

The declines in all quarters recently, for both interprovincial and international migration, resulted in the lower annual total net migration for 2010.

Figure 2: Migration, for BC, for 2010

Breaking open migration into international and interprovincial components, by quarter, allows for a closer look at possible future population change.

Interprovincial Migration

Net interprovincial migration decline to just 440 more in-migrants than out-migrants. This trend should continue into the next quarter, when BC's out-migration should exceed in-migration from the rest of Canada.

Figure #3: Interprovincial Migration for BC, for 2010

International Migration

Fewer migrants came to BC from other countries in the last quarter than left. This resulted in negative net international migration for the only quarter in at least the last four decades.

Figure #4: International Migration for BC, Quarterly

The largest source of out-migration to other countries was from the Non-permanent residents. Many of the high number of non-permanent residents in BC working on the projects for the Olympics (road work, RAV line etc.) are likely leaving the province, bringing down the net npr numbers.

Figure #5: Net Non-permanent residents, for BC, Quarterly

Possible under estimation of international out-migration?

Between 2001 and 2006, the estimates of the province's population were too high according to the 2006 census results. The lower than estimated results meant that the 2001 (July 1) to 2006 (June 30) population estimates had to be revised downward by an average of 4,290 people per quarter, referred to as residual deviation. Over a five year period the residual added up to just over 85,000 people, some what more than the 2006 population of the cities of Nanaimo (78,692), Kamloops (80,376) or North Vancouver (82,562).

Of all the components of population change, the most difficult to estimate are number of people moving out of BC to other places in the world; therefore, it is reasonable to consider that the residual be applied to international out-migration.

If the post census numbers, since 2006, continued to be over estimated, then these numbers will be adjusted downward as was the case for the 2001 to 2006 (July1) estimates. If the international out-migration were under estimated and if this has continued since the 2006 census, it would be interesting to consider what the net international numbers and the total population change would look like with the residual included for the quarters from July 2006 to the end of 2010. This would mean that the net international migration was even more negative than estimated.

Figure #6: International Migration, with residual, for BC, Quarterly
Population Change for BC

With the decline in net migration for BC, particularly in the last quater of 2010, the the population grew more slowly. Population growth was estimated at approximately 2,500 more people, with ~2,200 more births than deaths and ~400 from positive net interprovincial migration. The negative net international numbers lowered the growth rate.

Figure #7: Population Change, for BC, for 2010

While the inclusion of the residual for the quarters since July 2006, is speculative, it is interesting to consider it's addition as a scenario when looking at the population change for BC. When the residual of -4,200 is added we see that the population change for BC may have been negative (~-2,000) in last quarter of 2010.

Figure #8: Population Change, with residual, for BC, for 2010

Many people point to growing population as a problem due to negative environment impacts. In the mid 1960's, an increasing number of people began adopting techniques to reduce fertility. With lower fertility and increasing death, natural change, births minus deaths, has contributed less to the population growth in BC.

This means that net migration impacts the population most; however, as we have seen, net migration fluctuates. When BC's migration declines, BC will likely have negative population growth. It appears that even if the population change was not negative in the last quarter of 2010, the time is coming when BC's population will begin to decline.


Quarterly population estimates and factors of growth, provincial perspective - British Columbia

Table 3-11 http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/91-002-x/2008003/t330-eng.htm http://www.statcan.gc.ca/bsolc/olc-cel/olc-cel?catno=91-002-X&chropg=1&lang=eng

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