Comparing GDP growth across different geographies

City of Toronto’s Data, Research & Maps web page consists of a treasure trove of interesting data and information about the city.  The Economic Indicators & Labour Force data contains detailed information about Toronto’s (and the surrounding regions) components of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between 2011 and 2016. I decided to chart some of the data to measure and compare the economic performance of the City of Toronto to the broader Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (Toronto CMA), Ontario and Canada.

The first chart below shows GDP (in $1,000) for the regions since 2011 –

GDP 1011 - 2016

The interesting takeaway from this chart is that the GDP of the Toronto CMA has surpassed the rest of Ontario (outside of the Toronto CMA) in 2016. As of 2016, the population of the Toronto CMA accounted for 44% of Ontario’s population. This is a small indication that the Toronto CMA is more productive economically than the rest of Ontario.

The next chart shows GDP growth (%) between 2011 and 2016 –

GDP growth 2011 - 2016

The most interesting finding gleaned from the chart above is that the GDP of the rest of the Toronto CMA grew faster than the City of Toronto itself – something I would not have predicted given the strong urbanizing effect of job growth in Downtown Toronto over the last few years (as identified in the recent and informative Neptis report, Planning the Next GGH; as well as in Toronto’s Employment Surveys). However, I am certain the numbers would differ, especially for the City of Toronto had we the GDP data to 2018. The rest of Ontario (outside the Toronto CMA) has faced the weakest economic growth, with GDP declines in 3 of the 6 years analyzed. The Toronto CMA experienced a GDP growth rate of more than double that of Canada since 2011 (falling oil prices in 2014/2015 had quite an impact on Canada’s economy). It would be interesting to measure the GDP of the other big cities in Canada to determine whether the economic growth of urban regions is surpassing national growth (might be a topic for the next blog post).

And the final chart shows Year Over Year GDP Growth since 2011 –

GDP YoY growth 2011 - 2016

The most interesting takeaway from the chart above is a trend showing some sort of spatial trifurcation of GDP growth since 2013, with GDP growth strongest in urban regions, steady in Ontario as a whole, and weakest in less urban areas and across all of Canada. This brings into mind an interesting study done in the US by Zillow from 2016, where the researchers found that nationwide average home values in areas considered more urban were higher than home values in suburban or rural areas.

I would be curious to assess the GDP data to 2018 to compare growth between the different geographies and especially the City of Toronto and the rest of the Toronto CMA, and determine whether this recent trend of agglomeration economics has intensified. My prediction is that it has given the “hyper-concentration” of job growth in Downtown Toronto over the last few years.


Comparing homicide trends in US and Canadian Cities

Following up to my earlier post about crime trends in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, I was curious to see how the three biggest Canadian cities compare to their US counterparts with respect to homicides. The reason I focused on homicides here was because of the consistency in data reporting (i.e., it was difficult to find consistent data between US and Canadian cities on total crime, including violent and property crime).

The findings in this article show a fairly stark difference with respect to homicides and homicide rates between US and Canadian cities.

The first chart below shows total homicides annually in the four biggest US cities (i.e., New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston) since 1985 –


And the next chart shows the homicide rate per 100,000 residents for the same four cities –


What we see is a persistent decline in crime since the 1990s, with an uptick in some cities since 2014 – notably Chicago. New York City for instance has done a fantastic job in repressing crime over the last 20 years. Here is an interesting article from City Lab that speaks to crime trends in US cities.

The chart below shows total annual homicides since 1985 with the three largest Canadian cities added –


And in the next chart, the homicide rate per 100,000 residents of both US and Canadian cities is shown  –


Although it’s not a big surprise to many, it is clear from the two charts immediately above that the biggest Canadian cities are substantially safer than the largest cities in the US when it comes to homicides. Some interesting facts:

  • In 4 of the past 33 years, Toronto has exceeded 100 homicides; for Montreal it happened 6 times since 1985. Vancouver never surpassed 100 homicides
  • Houston is the only city (of the 4 largest) that has experienced less than 200 homicides annually; it happened one time since 1985 – in 2010
  • Since 1985, the 3 largest Canadian cities have never exceeded a homicide rate of 5 per 100,000 residents
  • New York is the only city analyzed here that has experienced a homicide rate of less than 5 per 100,000 residents; a consistent trend for the city since 2013






Crime in Toronto: Growing or declining?

In light of the tragic and deeply unfortunate events that took place recently on the Danforth and the Yonge Street van attack, I decided to look into historical crime statistics of major Canadian cities to see what the trends are like. The data shows that overall crime in Toronto has actually been consistently declining since the late 1990s, and per resident, our crime rate is lower than that of Vancouver or Montreal. However, it is important to note that Toronto has experienced a slight uptick in certain incidents recently.

Below are some quick charts that summarize different incidents of crime over the last 20 years for Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

Looking at total violations (in #s), we see that Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal are generally experiencing similar levels of incidents annually, with a consistent decline since 1998.

Total Violations (#s)

Once you adjust total incidents by the population for each city (rate per 100,000 inhabitants), we see that Toronto experiences the lowest rate of total crime.

Total Violations (Rate per 100,000 inhabitants)

Next chart shows total violent incidents in #s (eg., homicide, assault, harassment, kidnapping, etc.). Data shows relative decline/stability for all three cities. Once again, when you look at the rate of violent incidents per 100,000 inhabitants, Toronto is lowest. But the city has experienced a slight uptick in the number of violent incidents since 2014.

Violent Incidents (#s)

Violent Incidents (Rate per 100,000 inhabitants)

Other crimes, such as traffic violations and federal statutes have been generally declining/stable over the years. Not much of a trend there.

Drug violations on the other hand show varying trends. With respect to total incidents, Toronto and Vancouver mirror each other over the years, while Montreal experiences a growing number of drug violations. Once you adjust for population (rate per 100,000 inhabitants), Vancouver sees a higher rate of drug violations than Toronto and Montreal, but shows a consistent decline since the mid 2000s.

Drug Violations (#s)

Drug Violations (Rate per 100,000 inhabitants)

Next up are annual homicide incidents since 1981. Vancouver has been stable; Montreal has experienced a triumphant decline; and Toronto sees relatively erratic trends.

Homicides (#s)

With respect to homicide rates, they have been in decline across the board, with Montreal leading the charge.

Homicides (Rate per 100,000 inhabitants)

In 2018 so far (January to July), the total number of homicides that have occurred in the Toronto CMA is 89, while for all of 2017, the total number of homicides was 92. 2018 could be another “year of the gun”, sadly…

I also decided to look at total incidents involving the use of firearms. And this is where things get a bit crazy for Toronto. What we see is a big uptick in firearm incidents since 2014 in Toronto.

Use of Firearms (#s)

Use of Firearms (Rate per 100,000 Inhabitants)

When it comes to homicides and use of firearms, Montreal has the lowest rate.

Going through the violent crime data in greater detail, I found another unsettling trend –  all three cities have experienced an uptick in sexual assaults (also includes sexual violations against children) over the last few years, with Montreal experiencing almost a consistent increase since the late 1990s.  What was particularly unsettling in this data set was the huge growth in sexual violations against children…

Sexual Assault (#s)

Sexual Assault (Rate per 100,000 Inhabitants)

Although Canadian cities are considered some of the safest big cities in the world, incidents like the Danforth shooting and the Yonge Street van attack have made Torontonians question whether the city could become more vulnerable to violent crime.  The data above shows that despite some erratic crime activity and a recent uptick in incidents in Toronto, the general trend over a 20 year period has been one of decline. Furthermore, the response and engagement of Toronto’s citizens and its decision-makers following the Danforth and Yonge Street attacks shows how dedicated this city is to ensuring these incidents remain anomalies. Hopefully they do…

For my next post, I would like to compile crime data from some major US cities to compare to Toronto. Stay tuned.


Statistics Canada, Table: 35-10-0177-01

Statistics Canada, Table: 35-10-0071-01