Estimates of population, by marital status or legal marital Status, age and sex for July 1, Canada, provinces and territories

Detailed information for July 1, 2016





Record number:


This estimates program provides annual estimates of population by marital status, legal marital status, age and sex for Canada, provinces and territories.

Data release - November 2, 2016


This estimates program provides annual estimates of population by marital status, legal marital status, age and sex for Canada, provinces and territories. The estimates by marital status begin in 1971 while the legal marital status estimates are available starting only in 1991.

This population estimates program is used in the calculation of demographic, social and economic indicators (nuptiality rates by previous marital status, divorce rates, legitimates birth rates, life tables by marital status, etc.) in which the population, or a part thereof, serves as the denominator.

Reference period: July 1


  • Population and demography
  • Population estimates and projections

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The population universe covered by the Demographic Estimates Program is similar to the population universe of the census. The following groups of persons are included:

- Canadian citizens (by birth or by naturalization) and immigrants with a usual place of residence in Canada;
- Canadian citizens (by birth or by naturalization) and immigrants who are abroad, either on a military base or attached to a diplomatic mission;
- Canadian citizens (by birth or by naturalization) and immigrants at sea or in port aboard merchant vessels under Canadian registry or Canadian government vessels;
- persons with a usual place of residence in Canada who are claiming refugee status and the family members living with them;
- persons with a usual place of residence in Canada who hold study permits and the family members living with them;
- persons with a usual place of residence in Canada who hold work permits and the family members living with them.

For census purposes, these last three groups of people are referred to as 'non-permanent residents.' They have been included since 1991. Foreign residents are excluded from the population universe. Foreign residents are persons who belong to the following groups:

- government representatives of another country attached to the embassy, high commission or other diplomatic body of that country in Canada, and members of their families living with them;
- members of the Armed Forces of another country who are stationed in Canada, and family members living with them;
- residents of another country visiting Canada temporarily (for example, a foreign visitor on vacation or on business, with or without a visitor's permit).

Instrument design

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


No sampling is done for this statistical program.

Data sources

Data are collected from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

Before 2006, these estimates were based on results from the census, adjusted for family census net undercoverage. Starting in 2006, estimates of the number of census families are computed using data from the T1 Family File (T1FF), the census, the family census net undercoverage coming from coverage studies and population estimates.

For postcensal estimates, data coming from the census and the coverage studies are derived using 2011 data.

Data integration is conducted by combining data from multiple sources, including the latest Census, Census coverage studies (Reverse Record Check (RRC)) and administrative data such as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics.

For further information, please refer to: Population and Family Estimation Methods at Statistics Canada, Demography Division, Catalogue No. 91-528-XIE.

Error detection

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


No imputation was done.


Unlike the population estimates by age and sex (record no. 3604), the cohort component method is no longer used. It had to be modified following the end of processing of marriages and divorces data by Health Statistics Division of Statistics Canada.

From the census counts adjusted for census net undercoverage, a distribution matrix by marital status and by legal marital status is created for each age, sex, province and territory. This distribution is applied to the age and sex estimate to obtain the age, sex, marital status and legal marital status estimate. Two series of population estimates by marital status are available: the marital status estimates which take into account persons living common law and the estimates by legal marital status in which persons living common law are classified according to their legal marital status.

Quality evaluation

Measure of the precocity errors

The quality of preliminary estimates of components is analyzed using precocity errors. Precocity error is defined as the difference between preliminary and final estimate in terms of its relative proportion of the total population. It can be calculated for both population and component estimates. Precocity error allows for useful comparisons between components, as well as between provinces and territories of different population sizes.

Note that when compared to the total population for an area, the differences between preliminary and final estimates of the components are quite small. There are, however, differences in the amount of impact on the population estimates between components, provinces and territories.

Generally speaking, net interprovincial migration yields the greatest precocity errors. This is likely the result of the use of different data sources for preliminary and final estimates. In most years and for most provinces/territories, births, deaths and immigration estimates yield the smallest precocity errors. For immigration estimates, this reflects the completeness of the data source and the availability of data for more timely preliminary estimates. In the case of births and deaths, small precocity errors can be explained by the use of a different method (ratio method) for preliminary estimates.

This measure is calculated for the total estimates and not for the estimates by marital status or by age and sex.

Measure of the error of closure

The error of closure measures the exactness level of the final postcensal estimates. It can be defined as the difference between postcensal population estimates and the census counts (adjusted for CNU) as of Census Day.

The error of closure comes from two sources: the relative differences in the CNU between consecutive censuses and errors in the components of demographic growth over the intercensal period. With each 5-year intercensal period, the error of closure can only be calculated with the release of census data and estimates of CNU.

By dividing the error of closure by the census population adjusted for CNU, the differences are relatively small at the national level (0.16% for 2001, 0.14% for 2006 and 0.50% for 2011). At the provincial and territorial level, differences are understandably larger, since the estimates are also affected by errors in estimating interprovincial migration. Nevertheless, postcensal estimates generally fall within 1% of the adjusted census population, except for the territories and a few provinces. Even if the cohort component method is not used for the estimates by marital status, this method is used to estimate total population and by age and sex.

For more detailed information on the quality evaluation of the demographic estimates, see Population and Family Estimation Methods at Statistics Canada, Demography Division, Catalogue 91-528-XIE.

The information in section 9.6 of this publication does not take into account the new method to estimate the population by marital status. This will be changed at the next release. However, methods used to estimate total population and age and sex population are up-to-date.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Data are revised once a year and after each census, postcensal estimates are revised to produce the intercensal estimates.

Demographic estimates are revised using birth, death and interprovincial and international migration statistics when they become available. Revisions may result in notable changes for certain components, particularly for interprovincial migration.

Interprovincial migration data are derived from two sources. Preliminary migration estimates are based on changes of addresses recorded by the Canada child tax benefit program from the Canada Revenue Agency, and are available shortly after the reference month. Final interprovincial migration estimates are based on addresses supplied on personal income tax returns, and are available a year after the reference year.

Data accuracy

The postcensal population estimates by age, sex, marital status and legal marital status contain certain inaccuracies stemming from errors in corrections for CNU and imperfections in other data sources and the methods used to estimate the components. Errors due to estimation methods and data sources other than censuses are difficult to quantify but not insignificant. The more detailed the breakdown of the data, the larger the inaccuracy coefficient becomes. The component totals contain a certain amount of initial error, and the method used to classify them by sex, age and marital status produces additional errors in the figures at each stage. Nevertheless, the components can be divided into two categories according to the quality of their data sources: births, deaths and immigration, for which the sources of final data may be considered very good; and the number of emigrants, net temporary emigrants, returning emigrants, net non-permanent residents as well as interprovincial migration for which the methods used may be a more substantial source of error. Lastly, the size of the error due to component estimation may vary by province, sex or age and errors in some components may have a greater impact on a given age group or sex. Intercensal estimates contain the same types of errors as postcensal estimates, as well as errors resulting from the way in which the errors of closure were distributed, that is, on the basis of the time elapsed since the reference census.


  • Population and Family Estimation Methods at Statistics Canada
    The Population and Family Estimation Methods guide provides detailed descriptions of the data sources and methods used by Statistics Canada to estimate population. They comprise Postcensal and intercensal population estimates; base population; births and deaths; immigration; emigration; non-permanent residents; interprovincial migration; subprovincial estimates of population; population estimates by age, sex and marital status; and census family estimates.

    Last review : January 16, 2017.
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