5 Discussion and conclusion

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This paper shows very large differences by national origin groups in university educational attainment among the children of immigrants. With similar individual and family characteristics, 59% of youth of immigrant parents from China are estimated to obtain a university degree, followed by those from India (46%), and from "other Europe" (47%). In contrast, 22% to 23% of youth of parents from the Caribbean and Latin America, and less than one fifth of youth of Filipino immigrants are estimated to obtain a university degree. As a benchmark, nearly one third of the children of Canadian-born parents completed university.

Among Western country origin groups, differences in university educational attainment are relatively small when group differences in family background are accounted for, with the exception of youth whose parents were from Germany. Parental education was important in explaining the relatively low university completion rates among the Portuguese.

Relative to the difference by gender and family income, the difference among youth of immigrant parents by national origin is much more salient. The gap in university completion rates between the most educated groups and lowest educated groups is in the range of 20 to 40 percentage points, when group differences in sociodemographic background are controlled for. In 2001, about 26% of women aged 25 to 34 who were Canadian-born, or immigrated to Canada at age 12 or younger, obtained university degrees. Their level was about 6 percentage points higher than their male counterparts (based on authors' estimates from the 2001 Canadian Census). The postsecondary participation gap between students with family income less than $25,000 and those whose family incomes were up to $100,000 was less than 20 percentage points in the late 1990s (Corak, Lipps and Zhao 2003).