While immigration has been a key driver of Canadian population and workforce growth, it cannot, on its own, offset demographic trends that threaten our future living standards, according to a study released today by the C.D. Howe Institute. In “Faster, Younger, Richer? The Fond Hope and Sobering Reality of Immigration’s Impact on Canada’s Demographic and Economic Future”, authors William B.P. Robson and Robin Banerjee say current fertility and immigration rates, moderately rising life expectancy, and historical productivity increases can be expected to depress workforce growth, boost the ratio of Canadians 65 and over to those of working age (the old-age dependency ratio) and depress growth in incomes per person.

Despite some popular commentary, offsetting or even noticeably mitigating these trends through increased immigration alone would require unrealistic increases in total immigration levels.

The authors show that several other measures to mitigate the impact of a slower-growing and aging population on Canada’s workforce and incomes hold at least as much promise as changes to immigration. Delaying the normal age of retirement could help both workforce growth and old-age dependency in the near term. Higher fertility would help achieve both goals in the next generation and beyond, and faster productivity growth would boost real incomes per person more than any conceivable immigration strategy.

For the study go here (PDF)