What Does The Sandwich Generation Look Like For Ucluelet And Tofino?
by W. Munroe, June 12, 2014

In the last several articles, we have seen that the transition in economic activity is reflected in the current demographic trends for the west coast municipalities of Tofino and Ucluelet.1

What does the shift from child (0 to 19 year olds) to elderly (65 plus) dependency relative to those of working age (20 to 64 year olds) look like for these small rural municipalities (under 2,000 people each) attractive to young adults? Let's look at the impact on dependency ratios. For a comparison, I have added the dependency ratios for Alberta, also attractive to young adults although for different reasons.

Figure 1. Dependency Ratios, Ucluelet2
Figure 2. Dependency Ratios, Tofino2
Figure 3. Dependency Ratios, Alberta2

For Ucluelet, Figure 1, there were nearly 6 dependents for every 10 people of working age in 1996, dropping (because of fewer children 0 to 19 years of age) to approximately 4 dependents in 2006 and 2011. As the number of elders (65 plus) begins to rise in 2006, the dependency ratio rises again to 6 dependents for every 10 people of working age by 2026.

For Tofino, Figure 2, there were approximately 5 dependents for every 10 people of working age in 1996, dropping (because of fewer children) to approximately 3 dependents in 2011. As the number of elders (65 plus) increases, the dependency ratio rises again to just over 4 dependents for every 10 people of working age by 2026, then fluctuating around 4 to 2041. Again, projections using just 2001 to 2011 - the time period we see more clearly the impact of the transition to a tourist economy - would likely show fewer children.

Figure 3 is added for comparison because of the attraction of young adults and relatively fewer children in Alberta. The chart (green dashed line) shows there were nearly 7 dependents for every 10 people of working age in 1996, dropping (because of fewer children) to just under 6 dependents in 2011. As the number of elders (65 plus) increases, the dependency ratio rises again to 7 dependents for every 10 people of working age between 2026 and 2031. There after, the lines stabilize due to the central tenancy (removing variation) using the average ratios between 1996 to 2011.

What does this mean? The decline in children prior to the rise in number of elders resulted in less dependency on those of working age from 1996 to 2011. This brief relaxation will likely be short as the number of elders rises resulting in more visits to the geriatric rather than maternity ward.

People of working age on the west coast, most of whom are young adults 20 to 34 years of age, will likely continue to spend less time with their children (because they are not having nearly as many - below replacement) preferring instead to surf and serve the estimated million visitors annually.3

Endnotes and Sources:

1 Canadians have arguably the best data set in the world with which to examine the changing age distribution, namely the Census of Population conducted every five years. Why?

1) Because the census is an actual count, and is more reliable than an estimate. For example, for 10 years (2000 to 2009) without informing anyone, BC Statistics estimated the population of municipalities in BC using the change in the number of telephone lines. See Disclosure Of Methods Report Considered Harmful

2) The Census of Population is public - paid for by all Canadians for the benefit of all Canadians; therefore, the counts are open, rather than closed and controlled by a small group of people in positions of government authority (i.e. BC Statistics), who can falsify numbers with Ministerial acceptance.

1996 is the starting point because this was when the Census of Population counts became available on the internet in a form comparable to later years, thus providing an understanding of recent trends.


Adapted from Statistics Canada, 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011 Census of Population, by William Warren Munroe

1996 Census: Catalogue Number 95F0181XDB96001.

2001 Census: Catalogue Number 97-551-XCB2006009. (this is the source provided with the download for Alberta for 2001 Age Sex census counts which is the same as the 2006 Catalogue Number)

2006 Census: Catalogue Number 97-551-XCB2006009.

2011 Census: Catalogue Number 98-311-XCB2011024.

Referring to the 1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011 census counts well-defined projection scenarios (by five year age groups) can be created. For more information on how to create population projections see the Population Projection Project.

3 - many of whom are baby boomers. This estimate is drawn from efforts to count the number of visitors to the Pacific Rim National Park 10 years ago.

Related Reading

Outdoor Recreation to Family Formation in Tofino and Ucluelet

From Resource Extraction to Tourism and Accommodation - Ucluelet's Changing Demographics

The Sign On the Maternity Ward Door says "Gone Surfing" - Canada's West Coast Answer To Questions About Fertility

Dependency Swap - From Fewer Children to More Elderly - What does the Sandwich Generation look like?

Population Projections for the Parksville Census Agglomeration

Why are Statistics Canada's projections so high compared to the United Nations and the Cohort Change Ratios projections? Why so different?

Government population projections for BC reflect an "up and to the right" aspiration, while the cohort change ratios method shows BC's population growth slowing, and levelling out. Read a "A Comparison of Population Projections for BC"...

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