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This study examines the group differences in university educational attainment in an increasingly diverse segment of Canada's population, namely, the children of immigrants. It also examines the extent to which parental human capital and group level economic resources for these groups account for differences in university completion rates.

Determining the group differences in educational attainment among the second generation of immigrants is vital for understanding why some groups succeed while others may lag behind. Large group differences in educational attainment would have significant impact on inequality in other socioeconomic dimensions, particularly in occupational attainment and earnings.

This study provides a comprehensive analysis of group differences in university completion rates across a large range of immigrant source country/region groups. These include eight non-Western countries/regions: Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, China, the Philippines, India, West Asia/Middle East, and other Asia. There are also 10 groups from the Western countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, other Northern/Western Europe, Eastern Europe, other Europe, and other countries (mostly Oceania).

Data for this study came from the 2002 Statistics Canada Ethnic Diversity Survey (EDS). This study focuses on a sub-sample of about 3,300 young adults aged from 25 to 34 who are either Canadian-born children of at least one immigrant parent or who immigrated to Canada at age 12 or younger. This study includes 2,689 children of Canadian-born parents as the comparison group.

Children of Chinese and Indian immigrants had higher university completion rates than children of Canadian-born parents, even when demographic and human capital factors are controlled for. The university completion rate among children whose parents were from the Philippines, United States, and Germany was significantly lower than that among children of Canadian-born parents when demographic and human capital factors are controlled for.