Immigrants poorer than Canadian-born citizens: study

Disparity between new immigrants and those born in Canada has grown in past decade

New immigrants are still poorer than those born in Canada, despite the fact immigrants have much higher levels of education than the skilled immigrants from a decade ago, according to a new Statistics Canada report.

The report examines the economic welfare of immigrant families, not just individuals. In 2002, low-income rates among immigrants during their first full year in Canada were 3.5 times higher than those of Canadian-born people. By 2004, they had edged down to 3.2 times higher.

These rates were higher than at any time during the 1990s, when they were around three times higher than rates for Canadian-born people.

The increase in low income was concentrated among immigrants who had only been in Canada for one or two years. This suggests they had more problems adjusting over the short-term during the years since 2000.

The downturn of the tech sector of the dot-com bust in 2000 might explain some of the increase because the proportion of new immigrants who were in IT and engineering rose dramatically during the 1990s.

The report found that overall, the large increase in educational attainment of new immigrants, and the shift to the skilled class immigrant, had only a small impact on their likelihood of being in low income.

In 1993, the selection system for immigrants was modified to attract more highly educated immigrants, as well as more in economic "skilled" classes.

As a result, among new immigrants aged 15 and older, the proportion with university degrees rose from 17 per cent in 1992 to 45 per cent in 2004. And the share in the economic skilled immigrant class increased from 29 per cent to 51 per cent.

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