What are the changes in Canada's population from 1921 to 2011 (looking at the population pyramid: http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/dp-pd/pyramid-pyramide/his/index-eng.cfm), and...

What are the changes in Canada's population from 1921 to 2011 (looking at the population pyramid: http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/dp-pd/pyramid-pyramide/his/index-eng.cfm), and how can you compare the dependents in 1961 to those in 2011 (and so how does the change in dependents affect society)? Thanks for your help!

Expert Answers
katwood001 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In answering any question involving a chart or a graph, you need to follow several steps: 1) Analyze how the graph is set up.  2) Determine what information can be ascertained by looking at the graph or chart.  3) Take the questions involving the graph or chart and break them down into specific facts that can be obtained through the graph or chart.  4) Use your findings to write your answer.

Using these steps, let us look at the graph in your assignment.  

1) Analyzing the graph.

There are actually two graphs that you are observing.  The left side is for the male population (indicated by the man symbol in the upper left hand corner), and the right side is for the female population (indicated by the female symbol in the upper right hand corner.)  

Both charts are set up as mirror images of one another.  The horizontal axis (running along the bottom of the chart) shows the population starting with zero and jumping to 80,000, 160,000, and 240,000.  Before worrying about figuring out exact numbers, review the question:

What are the changes in Canada's population from 1921 to 2011, and how can you compare the dependents in 1961 to those in 2011 (and how does the change in dependents affect society)

Since no where in the question will you have to determine exact numbers, you can move on with your analysis of the graph.

The vertical axis of the graph shows the population broken up through ages ranging from 0 to 100. The graph has a horizontal striping which is blue and grey or red and grey.  Each change in color represents a different age.  Because of this, you can accurately pinpoint the nineteen-year-old group, by looking at the line just under the 20 mark.

  The last aspect of the graph that you need to be acquainted with is the slide-bar at the bottom.  The slide-bar works as a timetable.  It begins with 1921 and ends in 2011.  As you slide the bar to the right, the year shifts.  The current year being shown is indicated just above the slide-bar.  Take note that as the slide-bar moves, the "Total Population" changes at the top of the left hand graph.  

2) What information can be ascertained by this graph?

By working with the graph, you can see that it is a moving visual representation of population shifts in Canada.  As you move the slide-bar one year, you can see the line representing newborns moves up into the one-year-old category and a new line representing the births in 1922 appears.  The graph is based off census results, so if there is a war, it will be seen in a sudden drop in military age men.  For example: Observe the subtle but present population decrease between 1939 and 1941 in 18-23 year old men.  

3) Breaking down the questions:

Three questions are being asked: 

  • How did Canada's population shift between 1921 and 2011?
  • Compare the dependents in 1961 to those in 2011.
  • How does the change in dependents affect society?

 How can the graph be used to answer these questions?

The graph can tell you stark numbers.  You can look at the size of the total population in 1921 and compare it to the size of the population in 2011.  It either increased or decreased.  

The graph can tell you what generational groups are larger in 1921 and in 2011.  The vertical axis already breaks the general population into generational groups.  Under 20 represents the dependent population, 20 to 40 represents the young working adults and family builders.  This population group inspires new business and innovation.  40 to 60 represent the pre-retirement workers.  These tend to be the most civically active group (voting etc.).   60-80 represents the retirement group; however, recently members group have remained in the workforce long after 60.  80-100 represents the centennials.  While this demographic is retired, like the 60-80 year olds, there is little to no chance of employment and significant medical costs.  The retired members of this group tend to rely on the generations below them to support them financially, whether through government taxes or through family support.

By looking at the chart in 1921 and noting where the large population is located (which age groups are larger) then moving the slide-bar to 2011 and noting the changes that have occurred, you will be able to use the information I explained above to get a picture of the differences.  

This brings up the second question of your assignment: Compare the population of 1961 to the population in 2011.  Move the slide-bar to 1961.  Note the triangular appearance of the graphs.  The indention at the 20-year mark represents World War II, when the men were off to war.  This reflects that there were fewer births because the men were not at home.  The ballooning below the 20-year mark indicates the baby boom, which was a significant increase in births once the soldiers returned home.  Take note of the elderly and how many people lived to be over 80.    

Now, move the slide-bar to 2011. Notice the drastic change in the shape of the graph.  The 20-30 year old demographic is substantially larger than the lines below.  Note the increase in the general population living longer than 80 years.  

Now to answer the question.  The parents are most likely in the group between 18-45.  The dependents are between 0-20.  Make a note in your answer about how things have changed between 1961 and 2011.  

To answer the third question: Ask yourself.  If this bar went to 2030, what would the dependents be responsible for when they reach their 30s and 40s?  What would be the financial struggles?  What would happen in the government, taxes, medical care, and education?  

Once you have your rough draft, make sure to read it through for clarity.