Posted on January 25, 2011

Immigrant Kids More Likely to Get Degrees Than Canadian-Born

The Canadian Press, January 25, 2011

Childhood immigrants who arrived in Canada prior to their teens were more likely than their Canadian-born peers to hold a university degree by adulthood, according to Statistics Canada.

What’s more, the difference increased successively from those who arrived in the 1960s to those who arrived in the 1980s.

The study released Tuesday used data from six Canadian censuses between 1971 and 2006.

Childhood immigrants are defined as those who were born abroad and immigrated to Canada at the age of 12 or younger.

The report found that among male childhood immigrants who arrived in the 1980s, nearly 32 per cent held a university degree by the age of 25 to 34, compared with just over 20 per cent of the Canadian-born comparison group.

Male childhood immigrants who arrived in the 1960s had a university completion rate about six percentage points higher than their Canadian-born peers.

Statistics Canada said the pattern was similar among women. However, the share of women with a university degree increased faster than the share of men, for both childhood immigrants and the Canadian-born.

Childhood immigrants represented about 26 per cent of immigrants who arrived in Canada in the 1960s, 24 per cent in the 1970s and 21 per cent in the 1980s.

As for earnings, male childhood immigrants who arrived in the 1960s had weekly wages about two per cent lower than those who were Canadian-born with similar socio-demographic characteristics. This gap disappeared for the 1970s and 1980s cohorts.

Female childhood immigrants who arrived in the ’60s and ’70s had similar earnings to the Canadian-born comparison group, but the cohort in the ’80s had higher earnings than the Canadian-born group.

The increasing gap in educational attainment between successive cohorts of childhood immigrants relative to similarly aged Canadian-born counterparts was associated with the shift in the composition of source countries for immigrants, said Statistics Canada. The composition has been shifting towards countries from which children of immigrant parents have traditionally had high education levels.

Europeans had accounted for 71.4 per cent of the childhood immigrant cohort in the 1960s, 40.8 per cent ’70s, and 28.6 per cent in the ’80s. In contrast, the share of childhood immigrants from Asia rose from 9.7 per cent to 42.2 per cent over the same time span.