Economic Influences on Migration and Population Growth

Overview of Economic Trends and Components of Population Growth

For Canada as a whole, the rate of population growth is determined mainly by immigration. Within particular areas of Canada, population growth is determined by migration, which includes immigration, as well as movement to and from other parts of Canada: to and from other provinces (interprovincial migration) and within a single province (intraprovincial migration).

People move for many reasons, but one of the most important is economic opportunity. The cost of living in an area may also be a factor. Thus, during economic cycles in which economic opportunities vary and costs of living vary, we can expect to see cycles in migration and rates of population growth across Canada.

The analysis in this chapter covers the 16 Census Divisions of the Greater Golden Horseshoe. It uses data on components of population change that are generated by Statistics Canada once a year. Although more frequent data collection would allow for a more sophisticated analysis, even with only 18 data points between 1987 and 2004, it is possible to find strong relationships between economic conditions and migration.

In this analysis, it is assumed that economic opportunities are reflected in the employment-to-population ratio (using data for the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area). The cost of living is represented by the "real" average house price (using the average price reported by the Toronto Real Estate Board, adjusted for inflation).