Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Study: International mobility: A longitudinal analysis of the effects on individuals' earnings

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

The Daily

Thursday, January 18, 2007
1982 to 2003

The study "International mobility: A longitudinal analysis of the effects on individuals earnings" examines the relative growth in earnings among men who left Canada during the past two decades, spent some time out of the country working and then returned.

It was based on Statistics Canada's Longitudinal Administrative Database, which allows the comparison of individuals' earnings before leaving compared to levels after their return. It also allows comparisons between the earnings of individuals who left and returned against those who did not.

The study found that men who left Canada to live outside the country for a period of time had, on average, substantially higher earnings than those who never left. However, most of these differences were already apparent in their pre-move earnings patterns.

The study found that the effects of leaving and coming back as measured by the change in relative earnings levels appears to be much more moderate. The change also varied significantly by the number of years spent abroad and pre-departure income levels.

Overall, men who left for two to five years appear to have done best in terms of their earnings. Their post-return earnings were 12% higher in their first five years back, compared with their last five years before leaving (after accounting their expected earnings growth had they stayed in Canada).

Those who left for only one year showed a more moderate 7% average increase in their relative earnings.

Men who were away six years or more were found to have lower earnings after their return than otherwise might have been expected. However, these patterns varied significantly, and might well have been due to particular events related to the return, such as moving into retirement.

All measured effects take into account pre-move earnings levels and the normal growth in earnings that occurs with age, along with other factors that can affect earnings. These would include marital status, province and area size of residence, and the unemployment rate.

Data further indicated that the gains in earnings appear to have been more concentrated among individuals with the lowest pre-departure earnings levels (less than $60,000). Gains among individuals with higher earnings were substantially lower and were more uneven.

Previous research released in The Daily on November 17, 2006, showed that overall, about 0.1% of the adult population leaves Canada in any given year, that is, one person out of every 1,000.

During the past two decades, departure rates tended to follow the economic cycle, but far from perfectly. Between 2000 and 2003, they have fallen sharply.

Between 1982 and 2003, about 3.5% of individuals who left returned after one year. This rose to 4.7% in the second year, and then declined thereafter. Some 16.2% of those who left had returned to Canada within five years. These rates have risen in recent years, reflecting the substantial declines in departure rates.

The research paper "International mobility: A longitudinal analysis of the effects on individuals earnings" is now available as part of the Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series (11F0019MIE2007289, free) from the Publications module of our website.

Related studies from the Business and Labour Market Analysis Division can be found at Update on Analytical Studies (11-015-XIE, free) on our website.

For further information or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Ross Finnie (613-295-5798 or 613-951-3962), Business and Labour Market Analysis Division.