Early and diverse friendships lead to better income for immigrants: StatsCan study

June 25, 2019

By CBC News |

Women and men who made friends from diverse communities after arriving in Canada earned $6K-$8K more

As lasting friendships go, Jasim Khan got lucky when he immigrated from India to study at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops B.C.

The university assigned Khan an international student advisor, Reyna Denison, to help him transition to the new country.

“I was a teenager and I had never lived by myself. If I look back fifteen years ago, having Reyna’s support guiding me every step of the way … it was critical,” said Khan.

Over the years, Khan nurtured a close friendship with Denison. And that turned into an unexpected job opportunity.

When Khan visited Kamloops again last year to meet old friends, Denison encouraged him to apply for an assistant instructor’s position that opened up in her department.

Khan applied and got the job, working as a co-ordinator with international students and teaching English.

Khan’s story of friendship opening doors to an economic opportunity down the road is supported by a new study released by Statistics Canada.

It examined immigrants between the ages of 25 to 54 who arrived in Canada in 2001 and studied how their social capital — defined by their network of relatives, friends and community ties — influenced their employment income over a period of 15 years.

The study found that having friends in Canada led to higher employment income in the long term.

Immigrant women who made friends in Canada within six months after their arrival earned about $6,000 to $8,000 more than those who didn’t have such friends.

The report also shows having a diverse pool of friends from different ethnic backgrounds affects income.

In the case of men, having friends from different ethnic backgrounds contributed to better earnings — around $8,200 higher compared to those whose friends belonged to their own ethnic background.

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