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What difference do population trends make to your editing business?

By Denyse O’Leary 

demographicsUniversity of Toronto demographer David Foot argues, “Demographics can explain two-thirds of everything.” Exaggerated? Maybe, but demographics can shed light on growth or decline areas for editorial services.

The key demographic fact is that a certain number of children are born each year and no one can go back and change that number. Most of them will probably grow up in Canada. Some new Canadians will arrive with children and some families will leave, but these changes won’t greatly alter the picture.

In general, the declining birth rate has reduced the number of children entering school. Over 5.11 million students were enrolled in public schools in the academic year 2007–08, a 4.5 per cent decrease from 2001–02. This continued a downward trend which has seen declines every year since 2002–03. The trend should be kept in mind if you find children’s media a sluggish market. Maybe you are not making a mistake in marketing, but rather experiencing the results of a trend. On the other hand, the total number of educators (full-time equivalent) steadily increased. Statistics Canada says that in 2007–08, there were just under 333,000 educators, up 1.1 per cent from 2006–07 and up 5.2 per cent from 2001–02. So more teacher training materials may be needed anyway.

One outcome is that the Canadian population is aging. In 2011, the median age in Canada was 39.9 years, meaning that half of the population was older than that and half was younger. In 1971, the median age was only 26.2 years. Thus—just for example—if you edit for sports media, you may see a shift in client focus from downhill skiing to cross-country skiing. Again, it’s not you, it’s the market.