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Study: Intergenerational Education Mobility and Labour Market Outcomes: Variation Among the Second Generation of Immigrants in Canada

Released: 2019-02-18

The second generation of immigrants—individuals who were born in Canada to at least one immigrant parent—constitute a large and increasingly diverse young population in Canada. In 2016, they made up 27% of Canada's population aged 24 and younger and 16% of those aged 25 to 44. Among the second generation in the 25-to-44 age group, 31% were members of a visible minority group. The growing diversity in the second generation raises questions about the long-term outcomes of immigrant families from different ethnic backgrounds.

The study "Intergenerational Education Mobility and Labour Market Outcomes: Variation Among the Second Generation of Immigrants in Canada" is released as part of Statistics Canada's Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics.

Previous Canadian studies have generally shown positive socioeconomic performances for the second generation of immigrants. However, little attention has paid to outcomes among different groups within the second generation.

A new Statistics Canada study fills this information gap and suggests that there are divergent paths of socioeconomic integration among the second generation aged 25 to 44. The analysis focuses on two important aspects: (1) the ability to achieve higher education regardless of parental education; and (2) the ability to convert educational qualifications into labour market outcomes. Using the 2016 Canadian Census, this study divides the second generation into 10 groups as identified in the Employment Equity Act: White, South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, West Asian or Arab, Latin American, Southeast Asian, Korean, and Japanese.

The results show significant improvements in intergenerational education progress for the second generation overall. Nearly all visible minority groups had higher university completion rates than their immigrant parents, but with significant variation across groups. For instance, 73% of second-generation Chinese women and 62% of second-generation South Asian women completed a university education, compared with 20% and 22%, respectively, of their immigrant mothers.

In contrast, the educational progress was more modest for second-generation Black men where 20% had a university degree, compared with 17% of their immigrant fathers. Second-generation Filipino men were the only group who were less likely (28%) than their fathers (33%) to complete a university education.

The study also finds varying degree of converting educational achievement into labour market success among second-generation visible minority groups. Second-generation Chinese, Koreans, and South Asians accounted for a significant proportion of high-skill occupations, and they had higher average earnings than third-plus generation Whites. Second-generation West Asians or Arabs had lower employment rates among women, and below-average earnings among men. Second-generation Blacks and Latin Americans were less likely to work in high-skill jobs, and their average earnings were among the lowest among second generation groups.

The observed earnings disadvantages among some second generation visible minority groups remained even when comparing people with the same levels of education and demographic characteristics. For example, second-generation Filipino men earned 19% less than comparable third-plus generation whites. Similarly, second generation Black and Latin American men earned 19% and 13% less, respectively, than comparable third-plus generation whites.


The research paper "Intergenerational Education Mobility and Labour Market Outcomes: Variation Among the Second Generation of Immigrants in Canada," which is part of the Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series (Catalogue number11F0019M), is now available.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Wen-Hao Chen (613-864-0532; or Feng Hou (613-608-4932;, Social Analysis and Modelling Division.

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