Census learning centre

Release date: April 27, 2022

Catalogue number: 982000032021008

Hello and welcome to the “Age” video!

The objective of this video is to provide an overview of a key indicator of the most basic demographic characteristics of the population – Age. This video explains the main concepts relating to age, the quantitative and qualitative aspect of the age variable and how age is used by the public and private sector to assess and meet social and business needs.


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Concept video: Age - Transcription

(The Statistics Canada symbol and "Canada" wordmark appear on screen with the title: "Concept video: Age".)

Welcome to the Age video. This video is designed to give you a basic understanding of the age variable captured from the census questionnaire.

You will learn important basic information about age to help you create or analyze census data tables.

The age variable is instrumental in the work of demographers. They use it to create population estimates and projections. They also examine age as they analyze current demographic trends in the Canadian population.

Age refers to the person’s age at the last birthday before the reference date, that is, before May 11, 2021. The variable “age of person” is usually derived using the person’s date of birth and the reference date.

Age is expressed in single years of age ranging from zero (less than one year) to the maximum applicable number in the database.

Age can be presented in various groups to meet user needs, such as five-year age groups (for example 0 to 4, 5 to 9 or 10 to 14), broad age groups (children aged 14 and under, 17 and under or 24 and under) and open age groups (65 years and older, 85 years and older or 100 years and older).

Information on age is reported for the total population.

Next, let’s look at age variable. This is a basic demographic characteristic that is generally used in most dissemination of census data.

The age of a person is derived primarily from the person’s date of birth. We ask for these data in Question 4 of the census questionnaire. On the paper questionnaire, we also ask for the person’s age to help detect and correct errors in reporting the date of birth.

(An image of question 4 from the 2021 Census questionnaire appears on the screen.)

The main age variable “Age” represents the Statistics Canada standard concept, that is, the age at the respondent’s last birthday before the reference date.

A few other variables are derived from "age" for convenience, such as

  • Age by five-year age groups
  • Adult age indicator
  • Age expressed as a continuous number

Next, let’s look at age as a quantitative and qualitative variable.

The age variable is considered qualitative when you want to know the total number of individuals who are part of an age group. For example, “age by five-year age groups” is a qualitative variable.

(An image of a data table appears on the screen. The table shows Age, by five-year age groups, in rows and Marital status in columns. The age groups are 15 to 19 years, 20 to 24 years, 25 to 29 years, 30 to 34 years, 35 to 39 years, 40 to 44 years, 45 to 49 years, 50 to 54 years, 55 to 59 years, 60 to 64 years, 65 to 69 years, 70 to 74 years, 75 to 79 years, 80 to 84 years and 85 years and over.)

However, if you want to know the mean or median age of a population, the age variable must be quantitative. The variable “age expressed as a continuous number” is quantitative.

(An image of a data table appears on the screen. The table shows Age in rows and Geography in columns. The categories for the age variable are Total - Age and Average age.)

The variable "age" can be used as either a qualitative or quantitative variable.

(An image of a data table appears on the screen. The table shows Age in rows and Geography in columns. The table displays age as both a qualitative and quantitative variable. Qualitative age groups 0 to 14 years, 15 to 64 years and 65 years and over and quantitative variable, Average Age, are highlighted in the table.)

The variable "age" can be used as both a qualitative variable and a quantitative variable in the same table; however, this needs to be specified when creating a table.

We will now look at how the age variable relates to data quality and analysis.

There are data quality guidelines for disseminating tables using the age variable. For example, data for the population aged 100 years and older cannot be disseminated in single years of age.

Custom requests may provide a more detailed breakdown of age than standard data products, which group the population aged 100 years and older together. The most detailed age breakdown for this group that can be provided is as follows:

  • 100 years to 104 years
  • 105 years to 109 years
  • 110 years and older.

These detailed data can be provided only at the Canada level.

Analyzing the age of the population helps the public sector determine requirements for social services such as schools and seniors’ homes and plan social programs such as Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan.

Municipalities use the data to determine whether schools must be built in particular regions, for example.

The private sector uses the data to assess the local market potential for businesses and services.

(The words "Thank you for watching the Age video!" appear on screen.)

This concludes the age video. Thank you for watching!

(The census logo appears with a link, which is also available to view here: Census of Population.)

For more detailed information regarding concepts, variables, methodology, historical comparability and other elements, please refer to Statistics Canada's census pages.

(The "Canada" wordmark appears. ISBN: 978-0-660-41891-9)

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