Small-area population forecasts for New Brunswick

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New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training


What will the population of New Brunswick look like in the coming years? New Brunswick has one of Canada’s fastest aging populations and lowest levels of in-migration, along with declining fertility rates. A shrinking population presents a challenge to economic growth and has significant implications for other factors, such as the province’s healthcare system, tax base, and social support. Thus, population decline in New Brunswick has been a salient political concern for many years now. Researchers at the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) have been analyzing provincial population trends for a number of years. Earlier reports suggested the province’s population would continue to shift due to inter-provincial outmigration, with growth concentrated in cities through rural to urban migration. More recent reports using newly available 2016 Census data update the population statistics, accounting for the fact that New Brunswick experienced an overall population decline from 2011 to 2016. In these reassessments of population forecasts for small areas in New Brunswick, results are more negative than those of the 2017 reports – possibly due to data reflecting the sluggish provincial economy following the 2008 recession. The most current population forecasts suggest net migration is the main driver of population growth; and while the cities of Moncton and Fredericton are predicted to see population increases, the remaining areas in New Brunswick will arguably see either population decline or stagnation. The labour force is likely to follow the same trends as the general population. The authors argue that these trends could reflect a cyclical population downturn that will eventually reverse itself with renewed population growth; or they could indicate a future trend of population decline. Ongoing research may be able to tell.