Canada has among the best educational and economic outcomes for children of immigrants in the western world

January 3, 2018

By Rattan Mall, Voice Online |

“Educational Outcomes in Canada”: “Canada fortunately has among the best educational and economic outcomes for the children of immigrants in the western world. This success sets Canada apart from most European nations, and to some extent, the U.S. But there is tremendous variation by country of origin. The children of immigrants from many Asian countries such as China and India register remarkably high educational outcomes.”

“As a very general statement, the children from Asian families tend to have the highest educational outcomes, those from American and European families tend to look somewhat more like Canadians, although they still register higher educational outcomes than Canadian families on average, and those from Latin America and the Caribbean tend to display lower levels of educational attainment, but still roughly on par with children with Canadian-born parents (from 23% to 28% completed university).”

“[E]ducational attainment may work through a number of other factors. Parents, expectations regarding education matters, and immigrant families, particularly Asian families, tend to have higher educational expectations for their children, on average, than families with Canadian-born parents. Immigrants’ place of residence also matters. They are more likely to live in large cities than Canadian-born families, where educational attainment is higher. The factors mentioned so far refer to the family, but the group to which the child belongs also play a role. The tendency of young members of an ethnic group to have the advantages associated with more highly educated role models in their group and strong networks also plays a role. And the school system itself no doubt plays a role. The quality of education received depends less on the socio-economic background or place of residence of the family in Canada than in other countries such as the U.S.” “Family income does not seem to play a role; the likelihood of going to university does not depend upon family income in the immigrant community. This is important because many immigrant families struggle economically.”

“Labour Market Outcomes in Canada”: “visible minority groups tend not to do as well in terms of economic outcomes as one might expect given their higher average levels of education.”

“Within the second generation visible minority population, Blacks fared the worst in terms of economic outcomes, and the Chinese the best.”

“However, the gaps in economic outcomes between the second generation visible minority groups (relative to Whites with Canadian-born parents) are not large when compared to the much larger economic deficit experienced by their immigrant parents. It may be that for some, economic integration is a multi-generational process. The earnings gap for visible minorities relative to Whites is reduced across generations; it is greatest among the arriving generation. And it remains true that on average the children of immigrants do as well or better economically than their counterparts with Canadian-born parents. This success is not evident in most other western nations, notably in Europe.”

“WHY are Outcomes Better in Canada than in Europe? In general the data required to answer this question are not available. There is one exception, Switzerland. And this is a reasonable comparison. Immigration plays a major role in Swiss society as it does in Canada, since immigration rates are comparable. And until recently, many Swiss immigrants tended to have low skill levels and come from poorer countries, as is traditionally true for many European nations. But in general the educational outcomes (and hence economic outcomes) of the children of immigrants in Switzerland are much poorer than those of students with Swiss parents, whereas in Canada the opposite is true. Why? Recent research focusing on the 2000s found a few answers.”

“First, in Switzerland the children of immigrants did much poorer academically in high school than did students with Swiss parents. This difference in secondary school academic achievement accounted for virtually all of the gap in college and university attendance. The children of immigrants were less likely to go on to post-secondary education because they did not have the marks to do so. In Canada, there was no difference in the high school performance of the children of immigrants and students with Canadian-born parents, so high school achievement played no role in Canada.”

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