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Study: Canadians living abroad

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The Daily

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Canadian emigration abroad is just as selective as incoming migration to Canada, according to a new report published today in Canadian Social Trends.

The report, "Canadians abroad," focuses on emigrants who went to five countries: Australia, Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States, using data on immigration provided by those countries.

The United States is still by far the largest recipient of Canadians on either a permanent or a temporary basis. Other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Australia, also welcome Canadians. Italy and Poland, which have sent migrants to Canada in the past, are starting to see a trickle of their migrants return in their golden years.

The report shows that the bulk of those who go abroad are in their prime working age. Over half of the Canadians in the United States were between the ages of 18 and 49 years. In the United Kingdom, 77% were in the same age group. But there are also migrants who return to their birth country in their later years.

The movement of Canadians to Italy and Poland was largely confined to older persons who were born in those respective countries. About 3 in 10 Canadians in Italy were age 50 and over. It was about 4 in 10 in Poland.

The report noted that there is no definitive count of Canadians scattered around the world. Compiling comprehensive information on Canadians living abroad is a challenge because there are no complete records of the permanent or temporary exit of everybody who leaves the country.

However, international organizations have attempted to make some estimates. For example, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimated that 1.1 million people who were born in Canada were residing in other OECD countries at the beginning of 2000.

Between 2000 and 2004, an average of about 68,900 Canadians departed for the United States every year. In contrast, an average of about 6,100 US residents a year immigrated (obtained permanent resident status) to Canada during the same period.

Canadians who migrated south were more highly educated than the population of their host country. Over half of Canadian-born residents in the United States aged 25 or older had university education at the bachelor level or higher, compared with just over one-quarter of their American counterparts.

Between 2000 and 2004, the United Kingdom received an average of 8,500 Canadians each year, while sending Canada about 5,200 Britons. Data from the United Kingdom Census revealed that 78% of Canadians aged 25 to 54 years in the United Kingdom were employed, 4% were students and 8% stayed at home looking after family.

In the 2001 Census, over 318,000 Canadian residents reported that their place of birth was Italy. Fewer than 1,000 Canadians a year left Canada to live in Italy between 2000 and 2004. However, the majority (71%) of those who did move to Italy were Italian-born and more than half of the returning migrants were age 50 and over.

Canada's census enumerated 18,910 Australian-born immigrants living in Canada in 2001. Nearly 1,000 immigrants from Australia are admitted to Canada annually. Meanwhile, about 1,700 Canadians departed for Australia each year between 2000 and 2004. Most indicated that they intended to live there on a long-term basis — that is for more than a year but not necessarily permanently. A large share (two in five) of those who relocated to Australia were between age 18 to 29, perhaps drawn for travel, education or work opportunities.

Though Canada is often believed to be a recipient of immigrants, the report shows that migration occurs both directions and Canadians are also making their presence known around the world.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3901.

The report "Canadians abroad" is now available in the March 2008 issue of Canadian Social Trends, no. 85 (11-008-XWE, free) from the Publications module of our website.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (613-951-5979;, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division.