Demographic growth accelerated in Québec in 2016 and in the first six months of 2017

Québec, December 12, 2017. – Québec’s population increased by 68,500 in 2016, reaching 8.4 million. The annual growth rate was 8.2 per thousand (0.82%), compared to 6.0 per thousand in 2015. The growth rate accelerated in 2016, after having gradually slowed down since peaking at 11.0 per thousand in 2009. The natural increase was 22,800 (births minus deaths), while migratory increase stood at 33,600 (international and interprovincial in- and out-migration combined). In addition, the number of non-permanent residents increased by 12,100. Data for the first six months of 2017 show that the acceleration of demographic growth continued during that period. These findings come from the 2017 edition of the Bilan démographique du Québec published today by the Institut de la statistique du Québec.

Births and deaths

The number of births in 2016 is estimated at 86,400, down 400 from 2015. The total fertility rate was 1.59 children per woman. The total fertility rate remained above 1.6 children per woman from 2006 to 2015. It has been dropping every year since the high of 1.73 children per woman recorded in 2008 and 2009. Fertility in Québec has remained slightly above the Canadian average since 2006.

The number of deaths in 2016 is estimated at 63,600, 800 fewer than in 2015. This decline goes against the general upward trend associated with population aging and is due in part to a less severe flu season than in the previous year. Given the lower number of deaths, life expectancy reached new heights: 80.8 years for men and 84.5 years for women.

International and interprovincial migration

Québec welcomed 53,250 immigrants in 2016, more than in 2015 (49,000) and 2014 (50,300). Syria (10.4%) was the leading country of birth among 2016 immigrants, ahead of France (8.7%) and China (8.6%). International emigration is estimated at 7,600, bringing net international migratory gains to 45,650. In addition, the number of non-permanent residents (temporary workers, foreign students and asylum seekers) rose by 12,100 in 2016, the strongest increase since 1988. Data for the first months of 2017 suggest an even stronger increase, due to a rise in the number of asylum seekers.

Québec recorded losses in its interprovincial migratory exchanges. Net interprovincial migration was estimated at -12,050 in 2016. This result was somewhat less unfavourable than those seen in the previous three years (around
-14,000 per year). Losses to Ontario remained significant, while those to Alberta declined substantially.

Population structure by age and sex

In 2017, young people under 20 years of age accounted for 20.6% of the Québec population, people aged 20 to 64, for 60.9%, and those aged 65 and over, for 18.5%. Population aging continues, and the share of people aged 65 and over is higher in Québec than in Canada’s prairie provinces (between 12% and 15%), Ontario (17%) and the United States (15%). However, it is lower than in Japan (28%), Italy (22%), Germany (21%), and the Atlantic provinces (19% or 20%). The proportion in Québec is similar to that in British Columbia, France and the United Kingdom.

Marriages and conjugal status

The number of marriages in 2016 is estimated at 21,950, down 500 from 2015. Already very low, the propensity for getting married declined again slightly. Therefore, according to current nuptiality conditions, only 27% of men and 29% of women are expected to marry at least once before their 50th birthday. In 2016, 56% of people aged 15 and over in Québec were living as a couple—22% were in common-law relationships and 34% were married couples. Among all people living as a couple, common-law unions dominated among younger people, while married couples prevailed over the age of 40.

Regional assessments

The 2017 edition of the Bilan démographique du Québec includes regional factsheets providing an overview of the demographic situation in each of Québec’s 17 administrative regions.


The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is responsible for carrying out all statistical surveys of general interest. The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.

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