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Self-employment has been regarded as an important pathway for many immigrants to engage in the labour market. However, little is known about self-employment among the children of immigrants. Using the 1981 and 2006 Canadian censuses of population and a generational cohort method of analysis, this paper compares the self-employment rates of immigrant parents and the children of immigrant parents when both were 25 to 44 years of age. The focus is on three questions: (1) Are children of immigrants likelier or less likely than immigrant parents to be self-employed?; (2) Are children of immigrants likelier or less likely than children of Canadian-born parents to be self-employed?; (3) Is the generational change in the self-employment rate from immigrant parents to the children of immigrants different from the generational change from Canadian-born parents to their children?
The results show that Canadian-born male children of immigrants had a lower self-employment rate than did immigrant fathers. The decline in the self-employment rate was not unique from immigrant fathers to second-generation men: it was observed also from Canadian-born parents to their children. For both groups, the decline was related to changes in life-course events—longer schooling, fewer marriages, and fewer children. The self-employment rate of second-generation men was higher than that of third-and-higher-generation men; a similar difference was found between the fathers of these two groups. Among women, the self-employment rate increased from immigrant mothers to the daughters of immigrants as well as from Canadian-born mothers to their daughters.
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