Regional push-pull effects exerted on the young population in the province of Quebec, Canada – A longitudinal analysis based on interregional migration trajectories between ages 16 and 33

Emy Bourdages, INRS / Université du Québec
Jacques Ledent, INRS / Université du Québec
Martine St-Amour, Institut de la statistique du Québec

The registration file (FIPA) maintained by the Quebec health insurance board (RAMQ) tracks the residential location of all persons insured–that is, virtually everyone. It is therefore possible to extract appropriate longitudinal datasets, enabling one to follow the interregional migration trajectories of any select age cohort in a given year and henceforth to infer the regional push and pull effects exerted on such a cohort. In particular, a longitudinal dataset extracted for the cohort of the youths who turned 16 in 1998 is used to evaluate the temporal evolution, up to the time they turned 33, of two indicators representative of a region’s push and pull effects and also a third indicator that, as an expression of the balance of these effects, is suggestive of population renewal via interregional migration. Our analysis enables us to draw a spatial typology that gathers Quebec’s 17 administrative regions into four broad zones indicative a twofold logic of geography and urban agglomeration. We also make a strong case that our innovative way of extracting data from an administrative source to analyze interregional migration from a longitudinal perspective could and should be applied to other territories/ countries that maintain population registers or administrative databanks which tracks the residential location of all individuals concerned.

Interregional population redistribution isan important economic development issue in the province of Quebec which, unfortunately,is documented only with the help of disparate data stemming from varioussources. However, a unique longitudinal dataset extracted from the registrationfile (FIPA) maintained by the Quebec health insurance board (RAMQ) makes itpossible to observe the interregional migration trajectories of all personsinsured--that is, virtually everyone--and henceforth to infer the push and pulleffects which Quebec’s administrative regions exert on these persons.

Developing further some seminal workcarried out a decade ago[1],we utilize that dataset to establish the annual evolution of three suitable indicatorsfor the cohort of Quebecers who turned 16 years old in any given year:

-         The first indicator, representative of regionalpush effects, comes in two versions: a gross version which is the normalized numberof youths who left at least once a given region in which they resided at age 16(region of origin) and a net one which is the number of those who among thelatter number remained out of that region (that is, had not returned) by thetime of observation[2]

-         Similarly, the second indicator, representativeof pull effects, comes in two versions: a gross version which is the normalizednumber of youths who entered at least once a given region other than theirregion of origin and a net one which is the number of those who among thelatter number still resided in (had not left) that region by the time ofobservation

-         As for the third and last indicator, the balanceof the numbers of youths having left or entered that region (= 100 + net pull –net push), it can be interpreted as a measure of population renewal viainterregional migration.

In practice, thevalues of the above indicators taken in the cohort of Quebecers who turned 16years old in 1998 at three times of observation corresponding to ages 23, 28and 33 enable us to describe the temporal evolution of push and pull effects aswell as their consolidation in terms of population renewal in each of the 17 administrativeregions. The gross indicators of regional push and pull effects are examined byresorting to a diagrammatic comparison (see Fig. 1 and 2 respectively), whereasthe associated net indicators as well as the population renewal indicator areexamined on the basis of an illuminating graphical approach (Fig. 3). In theend, our results lead us to draw a spatial typology consisting of four broadzones indicative of a twofold logic of geography and urban agglomeration:

1)      The first zone (urban core regions) includes five administrativeregions associated with the main urban agglomerations located in the core:  a)the Montreal region (MTL) which tends to gain youths  from other regionsattracted by education and employment prospects,  only to lose them later on aswell as their own youths, when they form a conjugal union and have children as wellas the Quebec City region (CNAT), b) the Laval region (LVL), adjacent to theMontreal region, through which many youths transit on their way from theMontreal region to all other regions and c) the regions encompassing the lasttwo main urban agglomerations: Gatineau and Sherbrooke

2)     The second zone (Montreal/Laval outskirts)regroups three administrative regions located around the Montreal and Lavalregions which tend to lose few of their own youths but eventually gain manyfrom all other regions who either originated in the Montreal region ortransited through it

3)     The third zone (intermediate regions) is made upof three administrative regions sandwiched between the core and periphery andalso the northernmost region which all tend to experience small losses andgains of youths resulting, however, in sluggish population renewal

4)      The fourth and last zone (peripheral regions) includes fiveadministrative regions (BSL, SLSJ, A-T, CNO and GIM) located in the peripherywhich tend to lose their own youths and gain only a few from the other regions.

Overall, theempirical evidence substantiated in this longitudinal analysis sets forthcutting-edge information on the push and pull effects exerted by administrativeregions on young Quebecers. Needless to say that it is likely to help provincialand local authorities devise better policies and programs with regard to theinterregional redistribution of youths.


[1] Girard, Chantal (2006). « Combien partent ? Combien reviennent? Suivi des trajectoires des jeunes du Québec », Donnéessociodémographiques en bref (Institut national de la statistique du Québec)10(2):1-4.

[2]The numbers of youths involved in the specification of this indicatoras well as the next one are said to be normalized inasmuch as they are, forgood measure, expressed as ratios of the number of youths who at age 16 residedin the region concerned.

Presented in Session 1224: Internal Migration and Urbanization