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Economy Lab

To find a man, go West young woman Add to ...

Frances Woolley is a professor of economics at Carleton University.

The latest census release provides us with a new and vital insight into Canadian demographics: Petawawa, Ont. is the best place in Canada to meet a man. It has the highest percentage of men in what Statistics Canada calls the “working aged” population – 55.5 per cent – of any community in the country.

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The Canadian communities with the most working-aged men have a number of distinguishing characteristics. They’re small – the largest ones in the Top 10 list are Wood Buffalo, Alta. and Leamington, Ont. Their economies are based around the military and resource extraction. And they’re young – in Wood Buffalo, Alta., only 1.8 per cent of men are over 65.

But not everyone wants to join the army or move to Fort St. John, B.C. Focusing on major cities – those with more than 150,000 men between the ages of 15 to 64 – the message is clear: Head to Alberta if you wish to meet a man. Edmonton and Calgary are the only two large cities in Canada with more working-aged men than women.

Youth, of course, isn’t everything. Some people use a “half your age plus seven rule.” For example, a 40-year-old man can date a woman who is half his age (20) plus seven years, or 27 years old. Inverting this rule, a woman can date a man who is her age less seven times two – that is, a 47-year-old woman can expect to be sought after by men up to 80 years old: 2 x (47 - 7). Taking into account the entire population age range, the order of Canada’s cities moves around a bit, but the same pattern emerges: The most male cities are in the West; Calgary, and then Edmonton.

The cities with the lowest percentage of men are home to female-friendly industries such as insurance (London, Ont.), financial services (Toronto), public administration (Ottawa-Gatineau and Victoria) and education (Hamilton). The relationship between industrial structure and gender suggests that women may face a tradeoff between finding a job in a field of their choice and finding a partner (unless, of course, their field of choice is joining the army or driving a truck in the oil sands, or their preferred partner is another woman).

Looking at the working-aged population in smaller communities, another interesting phenomenon starts to emerge. Men appear to be moving away from communities in Atlantic Canada – places such as Cape Breton, Charlottetown, and Summerside. Even though Charlottetown’s population is younger than the Canadian average, it still has relatively few men. Presumably this is where some of the men in Estevan, Sask. and Cold Lake, Alta. are coming from.

As a community’s population gets older, it also becomes more female-dominated. Taking all age groups and all communities together, the most female-dominated places in Canada are retirement communities such as Parksville, B.C. and Elliot Lake, Ont. – places where more than a third of the men are over 65.

One thing that is puzzling, however, is that even though Canada’s population has aged in the past five years, it has not become more female-dominated overall. The percentage of the overall Canadian population who are males rose to 49.03 per cent in 2011, up from to 48.95 per cent in 2006. To figure out why that happened, we’ll have to wait for the release of the results of the National Household Survey.

Follow on Twitter: @franceswoolley

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