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How are the Children of Visible Minority Immigrants Doing in the Canadian Labour Market?

Grady, Patrick (2011): How are the Children of Visible Minority Immigrants Doing in the Canadian Labour Market?

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Abstract

This paper examines the performance of the children of immigrants (2nd generation immigrants) to Canada using data from the 2006 Census. As the composition of immigration inflows has shifted after 1980 from the traditional European source countries to the Third World, the analysis focuses on the labour market performance of 2nd generation visible minority immigrants of whom there were 398 thousand aged15 and over who reported employment income in the Census.

An encouraging fact revealed by the data is that 2nd generation visible minority immigrants are becoming more highly educated than 2nd generation non-visible minority immigrants and than non-immigrants – 46.2 per cent of 2nd generation visible minority between 25 and 44 earning employment had earned university certificates or degrees compared to 31 per cent of non-visible minority 2nd generation immigrants and 24 per cent of non-immigrants in the same age groups.

But, while 2nd generation visible minority immigrants obtained more education than 2nd generation non-visible minority immigrants and non-immigrants, their performance as a group did not measure up in the labour market. In the 25 to 44 age group, accounting for the largest number of 2nd generation visible minority immigrants, they only earned on average $39,814, whereas 2nd generation non-visible minority immigrants earned $45,352 and non-immigrants 40,358.

The labour market performance varies significantly among different visible minority groups. 2nd generation Chinese immigrants in the 25 to 44 age group actually earned $48,098, which was actually more than 2nd generation non-visible minority immigrants and non-immigrants. Because of the large number of Chinese included as 2nd generation immigrants, this buoyed up the overall average and masked the unfortunate fact that many other visible minority groups are doing much worse than average overall and falling short of non-immigrants.

A troubling aspect of the performance of 2nd generation immigrants, except for Chinese and Japanese, is the extent to which they earn substantially less than non-immigrants and especially non-visible minority immigrants for any given level of education.

The paper thus provides no grounds for complacency that the children of the recent, particularly non-Asian visible minority, immigrants who are performing so poorly in Canada’s labour market will catch up with non-immigrant groups, particularly given that their parents are currently performing much worse than earlier visible minority immigrants in the labour market. And it is unlikely that 2nd generation visible minority immigrants as a group will earn enough to make up for the current earnings shortfall experienced by their parents in recent cohorts of underperforming immigrants.

Furthermore, the lower earnings of many visible minority groups for any given level of education are likely to continue be used as justification for more affirmative action programs. This will adversely affect the non-visible minority and non-immigrant population, and could become a source of increasing social tension.

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