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Study: Community Vulnerability to Population and Employment Decline

by NationTalk on April 14, 2008715 Views

Monday, April 14, 2008

1981 to 2001

Over the last two decades, one of the most important factors of change for Canadian communities has been the process of global economic integration.

Globalization has opened new economic opportunities for various sectors, such as the primary resource sector. However, the economy of certain regions relying on these sectors has become more vulnerable to declines in population and employment in the wake of foreign competition.The study, “An index of community vulnerability: Conceptual framework and application to population and employment changes,” is among the first to create a conceptual framework suitable for gauging how vulnerable rural and urban communities in Canada are to population and employment declines, using demographic and economic characteristics.

It found that 1 out of every 5 communities in Canada are vulnerable to a loss of population, and about 1 in 20 are vulnerable to a decline in employment.

The most vulnerable communities are in regions characterized by a steady and constant loss of population over the past two decades. These consist of the Prairies, northern Ontario, northern Quebec and the most remote regions of Atlantic Canada.

However, each of these regions also contains communities with characteristics that improve the likelihood of maintaining their population and employment levels. These communities buck the trend of the wider region within which they are located.

The study also found that communities are more vulnerable to declines in population and employment if they have a higher incidence of jobs in traditional sectors, such as agriculture, forestry and labour-intensive manufacturing. These sectors are particularly exposed to foreign competition.

High unemployment rates and low labour force participation rates are also associated with an increased likelihood of declines in population and employment.

In contrast, certain resources or assets reduce vulnerability, such as a more highly educated workforce, employment spread across a variety of different sectors, and proximity to larger cities.

The study “An index of community vulnerability: Conceptual framework and application to population and employment changes” is now available in the Agriculture and Rural Working Papers, 1981 to 2001 (21-601-MIE2008088, free), from the Publications module of our website.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Alessandro Alasia (613-951-1204;, Agriculture Division.

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