Seniors returning to Canada

By Kristyn Frank and Feng Hou

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This study uses census data to examine the characteristics of Canadian residents who lived in another country 5 years previously. Such 'returnees' include the Canadian-born, as well as immigrants who moved on to other countries before returning to Canada.

Although the study was motivated by the potential impact of senior returnees, most returning emigrants are relatively young. In 2006, three-quarters of returnees were age 20 to 49 and 13% were 60 or over. These senior returnees comprised less than 0.5% of the 60-and-over population.

Senior returnees most frequently returned from the United States or the United Kingdom. However, there has been a shift in the top countries from which Canadians return, with an increasing share returning from developing countries—particularly mainland China.

The settlement patterns of Canadian-born and immigrant returnees were very different. Older immigrant returnees were twice as likely as their Canadian-born counterparts to live in 1 of the 3 major census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and only one-third as likely to live in non-urban areas.

Seniors who return to Canada are a highly educated group. One-half of them have at least some postsecondary education and about one-third have a university degree. Moreover, they have a higher rate of employment than others in their age group and often work in professional and managerial jobs.

Returnees age 60 and over drew less income from government transfer payments than others in this age group but Canadian-born returnees had higher average total income due to higher market income. Despite their higher average income, older returnees, particularly immigrants, were more likely to fall below low-income thresholds than others, reflecting a more skewed distribution of income among returnees.

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