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Low income among new immigrants

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Imagine starting a new life in a new country. You leave family, friends and everything familiar behind. You step off the plane and begin looking for a place to call home. Perhaps you need to learn the language. You also need to find a source of income.

While many families begin earning a solid income soon after their arrival, some have a quite different experience. Canada has attracted more highly skilled and educated immigrants: despite this, the economic situation of new immigrant families has improved little since 2000. Immigrants who have been in Canada for less than two years seem to have difficulty adjusting over the short term, according to a study on the income of immigrants who arrived from 1992 to 2004. In 2004, low-income rates among immigrants during their first full year in Canada were 3.2 times higher than those of Canadian-born people.

The probability that an immigrant would enter a period of low income during their first year in Canada was high, ranging from 34% to 46% in the years studied. However, between 34% and 41% of those in low income during their first year escaped low income after just one year. In fact, if arriving immigrants escaped low income during their first full year in Canada, their chances of staying out of it were high.

Another 18.5% of recent immigrants remained in low income for at least four of their first five years in Canada.

In 1993, the selection system for immigrants was changed to attract those with more education and specific skills. As a result, the proportion of immigrants aged 15 and older with university degrees and marketable skills has risen dramatically.