Population Change and Lifecourse


Big Picture Synthesis Series

Migratory Movements of the First Nations: Between Myths and Realities

By Robert Bourbeau, Norbert Robitaille and Marilyn Amorevieta-Gentil, University of Montréal

Migration by First Nations people (both Registered and non-registered Indians) reflects inequalities between First Nation communities, and also between First Nations and the non-Aboriginal Canadian population, in terms of its nature, its intensity and its direction. Residential mobility, within the same community or urban centre, is the commonest form of migration among First Nations, while inter-provincial and international migration concerns a small minority of cases. The net effect of the migration flows of Registered Indians is movement towards reserves rather than to other rural or urban areas.

Improvement in living conditions and the feeling of belonging to a community are the commonest motives for Indian migration. Communities may benefit from or be disadvantaged by these migration flows.

“Oldest-Old” Canadians: A Growing Population, Poorly Understood and At Risk of Missing Out on Adequate Services

By Jacques Légaré and Yves Carrière, University of Montréal

Canadians aged 85 and over (the Oldest Old) form a distinct group which is destined to grow as a proportion of the country’s population. This is a demographic reality which needs to be taken into account in policy making.

Health Inequalities among Older Adults in Developed Countries: Policy Implications

By Amelie Quesnel-Vallee, McGill University and Andrea Willson, Western University

Despite universal access to healthcare, there are disparities in older people’s health status in developed countries. These inequalities are rooted in lifelong differences in social and economic status. Government policies to assist older people may end up reinforcing these inequalities if they fail to create a buffer against their effects. However, best case practices and WHO guidance show that policies can also mitigate against the effects of lifelong disadvantage in older age. There is opportunity to design initiatives for older people in Canada that lessen the disparities in health outcomes that we currently see.

The Healthy Immigrant Effect in Canada and Elsewhere: What do we know and what should we know?

By Zoua Vang, McGill University, Alain Gagnon, Université de Montréal, Astrid Flénon, Université de Montréal, and Jennifer Sigouin, McGill University 

A number of studies have shown that immigrants tend to be in better health than their fellow citizens in their host countries, at least during the initial period following their arrival. Our work, a systematic review which brings together the results of 75 empirical research studies on this question, demonstrates that while the “healthy immigrant” effect is usually found in adult immigrants, it is another matter for children and older people. The extent of the healthy immigrant selection effect is also much more significant in terms of mortality than of morbidity. Our analysis suggests that immigrant health policies should not be “one size fits all” in type, but need to take into account both the age of immigrants and also those particular health indicators in terms of which the immigrants are most vulnerable.

Ethnic Identity Among the Children of Immigrants

By Zheng Wu and Christoph M. Schimmele, University of Victoria

This knowledge synthesis provides an up-to-date assessment of how the acculturation experiences of the children of immigrants influences their social identities. While other factors affect identity development, this synthesis focuses on the interface between identity and intergroup relations. Most post-1965 immigrants encounter economic circumstances and a “color” barrier that complicate the acculturation process. How these structural forces affect the pathway towards becoming a Canadian or an American is a far-reaching issue. For groups that are able to achieve economic parity with Whites and encounter little racism, their “ethnicity” could recede across generations. Hence, recent immigrants could eventually adopt unhyphenated identities based on a sense of belonging to the host community. In multicultural countries, however, such identificational assimilation is unnecessary for successful incorporation. The children of recent immigrants could instead opt for bicultural identities. The troubling possibility are situations where barriers to immigrant incorporation motive a reactive ethnic solidarity. In these cases, ethnic identity could reflect social divisions and perhaps even ethnic conflict within society.

Living and Working Longer in an Aging Society : Toward Increasing Inequalities?

By Yves Carrière and Jacques Légaré, University of Montréal

Population ageing raises questions about the sustainability of the public pillars of the retirement income system and about inter-generational equity. In response to this, a number of countries have raised the normal retirement age in an attempt to reduce projected future expenditures on their state pension system. In this context, private savings and later retirement represent the best ways of avoiding a major fall in living standards when retiring. Increased life expectancy at age 65 appears to justify this policy trend. But there are substantial differences in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy between people of different socio-economic status, and these seem to be widening. There is a danger that in the name of inter-generational equity, we will in fact be moving towards increased social inequality among the pensioners of the future.