Modelling and the maple leaf
We get a lot of interest in our software from Canada. We don't know specifically why this might be — despite that fact that two of our founders are Scottish, we are not aware of any distant relatives still panning for gold out there.
One possible reason is that Canada, like the Netherlands, USA and the UK, has a hierarchical postal code with fine granularity. This makes Canadian postcodes highly amenable to profiling for socio-economic status, and therefore useful in modelling longevity, persistency or any other decrement influenced by wealth and lifestyle factors.
Statistics Canada keeps tabs on the number of active postal codes, estimated at around 861,000 and shared across a population of around 33 million or so. This averages out at around 38 people per postal code. In the UK the average is similar, if slightly smaller — about 34 people per postcode. Obviously mileage will vary in rural areas, but in both countries, for the majority of the population a single postal code corrals a tight enough group to give a fairly clear handle on social class. For this reason the postal code has been used in a number of scientific studies in Canada, such as this one on the incidence of childhood cancers.
As in the UK, the Canadian postal code is alpha-numeric. Every Canadian postal code takes the form "A9A 9A9", where the first character identifies one of 22 postal districts. Whilst the UK supports a number of alphanumeric patterns, in Canada, whether you're visiting an Aquarium in Vancouver (V6G 3E2) or a Université in Québec(G1K 7P4), the structure never varies.
Whilst our post on the US Zip Code discussed the address for The White House, there exists a Canadian postal code of even greater global significance. It refers to a single dwelling, and, if our averages hold, of the 38 occupants thirty-seven will be elves. So if you or someone you care about needs to write to Santa Claus, then Canada Post have it covered — the postal code is (what else?) H0H 0H0.