Chapter 2: Trends in the Recreation and Leisure Industry
One important tool we can use when predicting the future is demographics. The term demographics refers to descriptive data about people and their lives. Some examples of demographics are:
- Education level
- Presence of children
- Residence environment (urban, rural, suburban)
- Sexual orientation
- Family composition
- Marital status
- Years of work experience
Dr David Foot, professor emeritus in the Department of Economics at the University of Toronto, stated that demographics can explain two-thirds of everything. He recognized that populations have predictable life cycles. For example, in Canada, most people get married between the ages of 20–30 yrs., most people start families between ages of 25-35 yrs., and most people retire at 65 yrs. of age. Awareness of these life cycles, combined with an area’s demographic data, gives us a very accurate insight into predicting future needs of a population.
The population in Ontario has a growing number of retirees and is driving a need for more retirement residences and long-term care homes. Ontario legislated that these facilities must employ recreationists to deliver recreational programming and that these individuals must hold a minimum of a college diploma in Recreation and Leisure Services. This knowledge leads us to accurately predict that there will be job growth for recreationists in retirement residences and long-term care homes.
Demographic data is a powerful tool for predicting future needs in any given population and for any industry, including recreation and leisure. We know that age, gender, race, and family status are all factors that influence participation in recreation and leisure activities. Therefore, it stands to reason that we can use demographic data to assist in predicting future recreation and leisure needs. One of the tools we can use to examine Canada’s demographics is a population pyramid; a specialized bar chart that looks at the size of each age group by gender. This chart can reveal information about past experiences and future prospects for the given population. Canada’s population pyramid gives a very vivid picture of Canada’s aging population as the pyramid changes its shape from pyramid to more of a rectangle as we move up into the future. Take a look at the Historical Age Pyramid created by Statistics Canada – it projects population up till 2036.
A new census for Canada was done in 2021. Here is a link to the most current Statistics Canada Population and Demography Statistics.