Young Women in Nova Scotia



Cet article résume les conclusions d'une enquête sur les jeunes femmes en Nouvelle-Écosse, menée par l'auteur au nom du bureau régional du Secrétariat d'État, à Halifax.

Les recherches ont porté sur des jeunes femmes de 15 à 24 ans et ont permis d'explorer, entre autres, les problèmes d'emploi, de logement et de sexualité. L'étude identifie deux principaux groupes: celles qui dépendent encore de leurs parents (le groupe le plus jeune) et celles qui ont réussi à faire la transition de l'école au travail, et du foyer familial à un logement indépendant (le groupe des plus âgées).

La majeure partie des frustrations de ces jeunesimage femmes sont fortement liées à ces transitions et au manque d'emplois et de logements à prix modérés.


The following is a summary of the findings of a study of young women in Nova Scotia. It was conducted for the Secretary of State. Halifax Region. from which full copies of the study can be obtained.


One of the most important things to be said of young women between the ages of 15 and 24 years is that they do not form a homogeneous group. Their situations vary markedly within this age range and are greatly affected by socio-economic status, ethnocultural and community background, levels of educational attainment, dependence, school attendance, marital and parenting status, and geographical location.

Similarities in developmental levels and life situations allow for grouping by age. Fifteen to nineteen-year-old are more likely to be living at home with parents, to be single, to be in the labour force on a part time basis, and to be full time students. "At age 18, only some 14% of young people have left home. By age 23, 68% are independent." (1)

The concerns of the young women studied reflected these differences. The major concerns of 15 to 19 years old centered on health issues related to sexuality, pregnancy and birth control; whereas employment, education and training were of major importance to the older age group. Although all the young women interviewed dreamt of and wanted good jobs, it was not until the later years that young women in the study seemed to question their economic situation. At age 20+ young women saw themselves as more seriously attached to the labour force. Statistics show that the youth participation rate in the labour force has increased, especially among young women aged 20 to 24. However the actual percentage of youth employment has fallen.

The lack of employment is certainly an important issue, acknowledged by all three levels of government. There is evidence to suggest however, that young women's employment and economic situation may still be little understood. Statistics Canada reports a lower provincial unemployment rate among young women (21.5%) than young men (30.1%). This does not take into account the numbers of young women reported as "not part of the labour force", or the numbers of these employed in part-time rather than full-time positions.

These statistics seem to be especially open to question when one examines the provincial unemployment rates. Since the beginning of 1985 the provincial unemployment rate has been at least one percentage point higher than the 1984 rate and peaked in March when the unemployment shot up to 17.3% of the work-force. (Nova Scotia's unemployment rate is now the third highest in Canada, exceeded only by New Brunswick 17.2% (sic) and Newfoundland 25. 8%. Recorded unemployment varies among regions. The April, 1985, unemployment rates were 16.3% in the northern mainland, 17.5% in the Annapolis Valley, 14.9% in the Digby South Shore area, 11% in Halifax County, and close to 30% in Cape Breton. (2) Nova Scotia also experienced the third largest increase from migration in 1984, following B.C. and Ontario. The net increase came from other Maritime provinces and the West.

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