Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016
Generation status

Release date: May 3, 2017 Updated on: October 25, 2017


'Generation status' refers to whether or not the person or the person's parents were born in Canada.

Statistical unit(s)



Generation Status

Reported in

2016 (25% sample); 2011Note 1 (30% sample); 2006 and 2001 (20% sample). For availability prior to 1981, please refer to Appendix 2.0.

Reported for

Population in private households

Question number(s)

Derived variable: Questions 12 and 24 a) and b)


The standard classification for Generation status is 'First generation,' 'Second generation' and 'Third generation or more.'


Generation status is derived from responses to questions concerning the person's place of birth (Question 12) and the places of birth of his or her parents (Question 24).

For more information on the place of birth questions in the 2016 Census of Population, refer to the definitions of place of birth, place of birth of father and place of birth of mother.

Within the generation status variable, the three main categories are defined as follows:

'First generation' includes persons who were born outside Canada. For the most part, these are people who are now, or once were, immigrants to Canada.

'Second generation' includes persons who were born in Canada and had at least one parent born outside Canada. For the most part, these are the children of immigrants.

'Third generation or more' includes persons who were born in Canada with both parents born in Canada.

To better understand the relationship between the concepts of immigration, place of birth and generation status please refer to Figure 5.1.

For more information on generation status variables, including information on their classifications, the questions from which they are derived, data quality and their comparability with other sources of data, please refer to the Place of Birth, Generation Status, Citizenship and Immigration Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2016.


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