Fewer young Quebecers leave their home region, and those who do are more likely to return

Québec, September 6, 2017. – Quebecers who entered adulthood in the 2000s are less likely to leave their administrative region of origin and slightly more likely to return after having left than those who became adults in the 1990s. These findings are drawn from a study on the migratory paths of four cohorts of young Quebecers published today in the Institut de la statistique du Québec’s bulletin Coup d’œil sociodémographique.

The study compares the residential trajectories of youths aged 16 in 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008, who were followed until the age of 23, 28 or 33. Among the 2008 cohort, 21% of young people left their home region for at least one year between the ages of 16 and 23, compared to 26% of those in the 1993 cohort. In addition, among those in the 2008 cohort who moved to another region, 24% had gone back to their home region by the age of 23, versus 22% among the 1993 cohort. By the age of 33, 32% of young adults from the 1998 cohort—the last one followed to that age—had returned to their home region, compared to 30% for the 1993 cohort.

The proportion of youths who leave varies greatly from one region to another

Young adults from Montréal, Capitale-Nationale and Outaouais were the least likely to leave their home region. In each of the cohorts studied, about 15% of youths from these three regions lived elsewhere in Québec for at least one year between the ages of 16 and 23, compared to over 30% of those from the regions of Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Côte-Nord, and Lanaudière. Young adults from Laval were the most likely to have lived in another region by their early 30s. By the age of 33, nearly three out of four young adults from Laval had left their region for at least one year.

Laval youths least likely to return to their home region

Young people from the Capitale-Nationale, Outaouais and Abitibi-Témiscamingue regions were among the most likely to return to their home region after having left it. Over a third of those who had left were back by the age of 33. Young adults from the regions adjacent to Montréal were also quite likely to return after having left, except for those from Laval, as no more than 20% of them returned to their home region—the lowest proportion in Québec.

Montréal attracts fewer young people from other regions than before

While Montréal remains the top destination for youths who move to another region, it has lost some of its power of attraction among the latest cohorts. In addition, a large number of youths who come to Montréal end up leaving. The Capitale-Nationale region is another pole of attraction for young people in their early 20s, while Outaouais and the regions adjacent to Montréal have gained in popularity among young adults nearing 30. As for the most remote regions located far from large centres, their capacity to attract young people from elsewhere in the province seems limited.

These findings are based on data from the Fichier d’inscription des personnes assurées of the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec. The study looks at the migratory paths of youths over several years and sheds new light on Québec regions’ capacity to attract and retain young adults—the most mobile segment of the population.


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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