Ethnicity, Language and Immigration Thematic Series
Educational and labour market outcomes of children with an immigrant background by their region of origin

by Martin Turcotte, Centre for Ethnocultural, Language and Immigration Statistics, Statistics Canada

Release date: November 15, 2019

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Overview

Based on integrated data from the 2006 and 2016 censuses, this study examines the education and labour market outcomes of a cohort of children with an immigrant background who were aged 13 to 17 in 2006. In this study, the outcomes of children of immigrant parents from different regions are compared with those of children of Canadian-born parents.

  • The children of immigrants were generally more likely than their counterparts from the third generation or higher to complete postsecondary studies. For example, among children of immigrants aged 13 to 17 in 2006, 43% had earned a university degree in 2016, compared with 29% of their counterparts from the third generation or higher.
  • The children of Asian immigrants were much more likely to have a high level of education. For example, in 2016, the children of immigrants from East Asia were two and a half times more likely than their counterparts from the third generation or higher to hold a university degree.
  • In general, the children of parents with lower levels of education also had a lower level of education. However, parents’ education level had less of an impact on the education levels of children with an immigrant background than it did on those of children with Canadian-born parents.
  • Among male university graduates aged 30 to 34 working full-time full-year, those born to immigrant parents earned less than their counterparts from the third generation or higher, even after accounting for other factors.
  • Among female university graduates aged 30 to 34 working full-time full-year, there was no significant wage gap between those with an immigrant background and those from the third generation or higher, once other factors were accounted for.

Introduction

In addition to its humanitarian tradition of welcoming refugees, one of the objectives of Canada’s immigration policies is to promote economic growth and prosperity throughout the country. Moreover, international immigration must help to fill current and future skilled labour shortages.

Given these objectives, education and vocational training are of utmost importance when selecting immigration candidates. It is believed that immigrants will have less trouble integrating if they are able to find a job and that they will have less trouble finding a good job if they completed postsecondary studies at a recognized postsecondary institution.

Statistics illustrate the role of education as a selection criteria for immigrants to Canada. For example, among immigrants aged 25 to 34 admitted between 2011 and 2016, 57% had a university certificate, diploma or degree at the bachelor level or above (this proportion was 71% among economic immigrants). In comparison, 30% of non-immigrants in the same age group had a university degree.Note 1

Meeting labour market shortages with a highly educated immigrant population can be beneficial for the Canadian economy in the short term. The influence of immigration on Canada’s social and economic evolution can also be felt in the much longer term, particularly because most immigrants will have Canadian-born children. These children can be considered children or youth “with an immigrant background,” as they are referred to in this article.

Given their particular family history, marked by their parents settling in a new environment, children with an immigrant background differ from other children in various ways (Statistics Canada 2017a). For example, they are likely to develop a “mixed” culture, which is first based on the culture of their parents and their community of origin, but is then later influenced by the culture of their friends, teachers and other adults they socialize with outside the home, as well as the establishments they attend (school, work, etc.). In this way they contribute to the country’s social and cultural diversity.

Children with an immigrant background can also contribute to the increase in the general level of education in Canada. In Canada, contrary to several European countries, children with an immigrant background are generally more likely than their non-immigrant counterparts to embark on and complete postsecondary studies (e.g., Kamanzi et al. 2016; OECD 2017; Chen and Hou 2019).

Despite these general trends, not all immigrants and not all children with an immigrant background have the same educational profile, and some are more successful than others. Some may have more or less success in the labour market (e.g., Chen and Hou 2019). Moreover, although the vast majority of children with an immigrant background earn their degree in Canada and are fluent in the languages of work, they may be more likely to experience discrimination during the hiring process (e.g., Oreopoulos 2011 for Canadian data).

This study explores the education and labour market outcomes of children with an immigrant background based on their region of origin, i.e., place of birth of their immigrant parents (see “Data sources, concepts and methods” for more information). Knowing the regions of origin of children with an immigrant background who are at higher risk of having educational difficulties can help in developing targeted support programs to guide them throughout their education. Similarly, identifying the regions of origin associated with exceptionally high postsecondary and university graduation rates can prompt more in-depth analyses to better understand the unmeasured factors responsible for success (e.g., Somerville and Robinson 2016, about children with an immigrant background from South Asia).

Identifying the regions of origin with less favourable labour market results is also important for the development of programs and policies aimed at fostering employability and fighting employment discrimination. If children with an immigrant background are generally more successful in school and are more likely to complete postsecondary studies, we would also expect them to have better labour market outcomes. But is this really the case?

In this context, this article aims to answer the following two questions:

  • To what extent do children with an immigrant background differ from one another in terms of education outcomes, by their region of origin and compared with children of Canadian-born parents?
    • To what extent are the gaps in education outcomes between the regions of origin due to variations in their family and socioeconomic situations during childhood, as well as individual characteristics?
  • Are the labour market outcomes of children with an immigrant background from the different regions of origin, at the same level of education and once they have become young adults, comparable to those of youth whose parents were born in Canada (employment and earnings)?

The first question can be answered using 2006 and 2016 census data. We compare 2016 education outcomes (whether or not certain credentials were earned) by the regions of origin of youth with an immigrant background and taking into account the different characteristics measured in 2006 (when the youth lived with their parents).

More specifically, we are interested in the education outcomes of two youth cohorts: 1) that of youth aged 9 to 13 in 2006 for whom the likelihood of having at least a high school diploma in 2016, when they were between 19 and 23 years old, was estimated; 2) that of youth aged 13 to 17 in 2006,  for whom we are interested in the completion of the following, as of 2016 when they were between 23 and 27 years old: a) any postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree; b) of a university degree at the bachelor level or higher; c) of a university degree at the bachelor level or higher in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field.

A recent study conducted by Chen and Hou (2019) examined the education and labour market outcomes of children with an immigrant background by visible minority groups, using a synthetic cohort approach. This study enriches that portrait, but focuses mostly on the regions of origin of children with an immigrant background.Note 2 Moreover, integrated 2006 and 2016 census data are used to measure and directly take into account more factors associated with education outcomes, particularly parents’ education and family income during childhood.

To answer the second research question, we examine two sets of labour market outcomes of young adults: employment, namely full-time, full-year employment, and employment earnings (or wages). In the second part of this article, only data from the 2016 Census are used, and the population of interest is persons aged 30 to 34 born in Canada or with an immigrant background.Note 3 As in the previous sections, labour market outcomes of children with an immigrant background by their region of origin are compared with those of third- or higher-generation Canadians. Details on the data source, concepts and methods are provided in the “Data source, concepts and methods” textbox.

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Data sources, concepts and methods

This study primarily uses integrated 2006 and 2016 Census data. The major advantages of this data integration are: 1) the availability of information on the family environment of youth before they leave the parental home. Unlinked, or “regular,” census data include the level of education attained by children with an immigrant background but, once the youth have left the family household and completed their postsecondary studies, do not indicate the socioeconomic characteristics of their family of origin (parents’ education and income, family structure, etc.);Note 4 2) a relatively large sample size, which helps to combine youth into several distinct regions of origin (specifically 16 in this study, including Canada);Note 5 3) the possibility to compare the outcomes of children with an immigrant background (generation 1.5 and second generation) with the outcomes of third- or higher-generation Canadians, which cannot be done with certain databases that only comprise information about immigrants.

Given that the majority of children and teens aged 9 to 17 lived with their parents in 2006 (98% of the sample), those who did not were excluded from the analysis. Youth aged 18 or over in 2006 were excluded because, starting at this age, a greater proportion no longer live with their parents (which makes it impossible to take into account family context variables). The subsample from the integrated 2006–2016 Census file used for this study comprised 122,810 respondents. All analyses were weighted using a weight that takes into account the selection probability of both the 2006 Census and the 2016 Census.

Children with an immigrant background

For the purposes of this study, children with an immigrant background are all children and teens born to one or two immigrant parents. These children were either born in Canada (the majority), or arrived in Canada before the age of 15 (making them members of generation 1.5, therefore all being familiar with the Canadian school system and having, if applicable, a high school or postsecondary diploma from Canada). Note that the inclusion or exclusion of children from generation 1.5, that is, children who immigrated before the age of 15, does not affect the overall findings of this study.

Region of origin

The region of origin of children with an immigrant background is the main variable of interest. For the purposes of this study, the region of origin corresponds, in all cases, to the parents’ place of birth and not the children’s place of birth. This decision was made so as to not assign a place of birth to immigrant children as a result of transitional migration rather than their parents’ region of origin. For example, the region of origin of a child with an immigrant background who was born in the United States but whose parents were both born in India (South Asia) will be South Asia rather than the United States or North America. Note that if the parents have different birth places, the mother’s place of birth is used, except if the mother was born in Canada, in which case the father’s place of birth is used.

Third-or higher-generation children are children of Canadian-born parents. Canada is the reference region for the majority of analyses in this study. Note that region of origin and parents’ place of birth are used interchangeably within this text.

In addition to Canada, the 15 other regions of origin part of the study, with the main regions of origin in parentheses, are the following: North America (United States), Central America (Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala), the Caribbean and Bermuda (Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago), South America (Guyana, Brazil, Chile), Western Europe (Germany, France, Netherlands), Eastern Europe (Poland, Russian Federation, Romania), Northern Europe (United Kingdom), Southern Europe (Portugal, Italy), sub-Saharan Africa (Republic of South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya), North Africa (Egypt, Morocco, Algeria), Western and Central Asia and Middle East (Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria), East Asia (China, Hong Kong, South Korea), Southeast Asia (Philippines, Viet Nam, Cambodia), South Asia (India, Sri Lanka), and Oceania and others (Fiji, Australia, New Zealand).

Level of Education

At least a high school diploma indicates whether a person has at least completed a high school diploma or an equivalency certificate. In Tables 1 and 2 and Charts 1 and 2, “At least a high school diploma” encompasses completion of a high school diploma or equivalency certificate, a postsecondary certificate, diploma, or degree, or both.

Postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree includes certificates of apprenticeship, trade certificates and diplomas, certificates or diplomas of college studies, including CEGEP in Quebec, and university certificates, diplomas or degrees.

University degree or diploma (bachelor’s or higher) includes bachelor’s degrees (including those completed at a college), medical, master’s and doctoral degrees.

Highest level of education is used as an independent variable when investigating labour market outcomes.  Its categories are mutually exclusive. Thus, for example, “high school diploma” includes only people with a high school diploma who have no postsecondary qualifications.

Parents’ highest level of education is used as a dependent variable when investigating education outcomes. Its categories are similar to those of “Highest level of education” and are also mutually exclusive.

Employment rates

Percentage of individuals employed during the week prior to the census (May 2016).

Full-time, full-year employment

Employment held by a worker 49 weeks or more in 2015 and mostly full time.

Employment earnings

Earnings that correspond to the salaries, wages and commissions of paid work. Does not include employment earnings of self-employed workers. For the 2016 Census, the reference period is the year 2015.

Multivariate analysis

In the first section, logistic regression models were used to estimate the adjusted predicted probability of attaining a given level of education (high school, postsecondary, university degree, and university degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics fields). The mean values of the control variables were used in the tables for the sample in question (i.e., the mean values for respondents included in the model in question). All control variables included in the models are presented in Table 2. Adjusted employment rates were also obtained by logistic regression. Finally, quantile regressions were used to generate the multivariate analysis for the predicted median earnings.

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Section 1: Education outcomes by region of origin

In today’s society and economy, earning a high school diploma is practically considered a minimum qualification and does not guarantee successful integration into the labour market (Uppal 2017).Note 6

In the cohort of children aged 9 to 13 in 2006, 92% of them had at least completed a high school diploma 10 years later in 2016. This proportion was higher for children with an immigrant background (96%) than for Canadian children from the third generation or higher (91%) (Chart 1 and Table 1).

Children with an immigrant background from all regions of origin were more likely than their counterparts from the third generation or higher to have at least a high school diploma—with the only two exceptions being children from a Central American country (84%), and children from the Caribbean and Bermuda (91%).


Table 1
Percentage of children and teens aged 9 to 17 in 2006 who earned a diploma in 2016, by region of origin and type of diploma
Table summary
This table displays the results of Percentage of children and teens aged 9 to 17 in 2006 who earned a diploma in 2016 Type of diploma completed in 2016, At least a high school diploma, Postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree, University degree (bachelor level or higher) and University degree (bachelor level or higher) in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), calculated using percentage units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Type of diploma completed in 2016
At least a high school diplomaTable 1 Note 1 Postsecondary certificate, diploma or degreeTable 1 Note 2 University degree (bachelor level or higher)Table 1 Note 2 University degree (bachelor level or higher) in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)Table 1 Note 2
percentage
Total 92 68 33 8
Region of oirigin
Canada 91 67 29 6
Other countries 96 72 43 12
Region of origin breakdown
Canada 91 67 29 6
North America 94 66 38 8
Central America 84 51 19 2
Caribbean and Bermuda 91 61 24 4
South America 94 67 28 7
Western Europe 94 72 39 11
Eastern Europe 97 76 47 11
Northern Europe 95 67 37 8
Southern Europe 95 72 38 7
Sub-Saharan Africa 97 70 48 14
North Africa 94 79 52 16
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 97 75 45 13
East Asia 98 82 67 24
Southeast Asia 98 77 42 12
South Asia 98 76 56 17
Oceania and other 96 63 28 7

In contrast, almost all children aged 9 to 13 whose parents were from a country in East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia had at least earned their high school diploma in 2016 (98% for each of these regions).

Chart 1

Data table for Chart 1 
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1. The information is grouped by Region of origin (appearing as row headers), High school diploma, calculated using percentage units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Region of origin High school diploma
percentage
East Asia 98
South Asia 98
Southeast Asia 98
Sub-Saharan Africa 97
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 97
Eastern Europe 97
Oceania and others 96
Northern Europe 95
Southern Europe 95
North Africa 94
South America 94
Western Europe 94
North America 94
Caribbean and Bermuda 91
Canada 91
Central America 84

The scenario was relatively the same for the completion of a postsecondary certificate or diploma or degree (which includes all trades, apprenticeship, college and university credentials) and for a university degree (bachelor level or higher) specifically.

Among youth aged 13 to 17 in 2006, those with an immigrant background were slightly more likely to have a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree in 2016 than youth from the third generation or higher (72% and 67%, respectively). Among the regions of origin, results were less favourable for the same two regions, namely Central America (51%), and the Caribbean and Bermuda (61%), as they were for the high school completion rate.

Children with an East Asian immigrant background were most likely to have a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree in 2016 (82%), followed by children from North Africa (79%) and Southeast Asia (77%).

Although there were gaps between the regions of origin for high school and postsecondary education levels, the widest variations observed were for university education (at the bachelor level or higher).

More specifically, among youth with an immigrant background aged 13 to 17 in 2006, 43% had a university degree 10 years later. In comparison, this proportion was 29% for youth whose parents were born in Canada (Table 1).

Although children with an immigrant background were generally more likely to graduate from university, teens from East Asia (China, Hong Kong, etc.) particularly stood out: among this cohort of youth aged 13 to 17 in 2006, 67% had a university degree in 2016. Higher-than-average proportions were also observed among teens with an immigrant background from South Asia (56%) and North Africa (52%).

In fact, youth from all sub-regions of Europe, Africa and Asia had a higher proportion of university graduates than the average of Canadian youth from the third generation or higher.

A different scenario was observed among teens aged 13 to 17 in 2006 with a Central American immigrant background (university graduation rate of 19% in 2016), as well as among their counterparts with an immigrant background from the Caribbean and Bermuda (24%).

About 1 in 4 youth with an East Asian immigrant background had a university degree in a STEM field

STEM fields are considered important because they are associated with innovation and increased productivity, and offer generally higher salaries. Different initiatives exist to make these fields more popular among youth, and particularly among young women.Note 7

Past research has demonstrated that immigrants were more likely than non-immigrants to graduate in a STEM field (e.g., Hango 2013). The same is also true for their children. Among youth with an immigrant background from East Asia and aged 13 to 17 years old in 2006, 12% had a university degree in a STEM field 10 years later, compared with 6% of Canadian youth from the third generation or higher.

These overall results hide significant gaps based on the region of origin of youth with an immigrant background. Among teens with an immigrant background aged 13 to 17 in 2006, 24% had a university degree in a STEM field in 2016. Corresponding proportions were also higher than average among youth from South Asia (17%), North Africa (16%) and sub-Saharan Africa (14%).

In contrast, the proportion of those who had a university degree in a STEM field was 2% among youth with an immigrant background from Central America and 4% among youth with an immigrant background from the Caribbean and Bermuda (Table 1).

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Gap in outcomes between boys and girls with an immigrant background

Since the early 1990s, young women have been more likely than young men to graduate from university (Statistics Canada 2017). This trend can be seen among third-generation Canadians as well as among children with an immigrant background, regardless of the region of origin (textbox table). However, the gap ratio (i.e., the proportion of girls divided by the proportion of boys) is greater for certain regions than for others.


Textbox table
Percentage with a university degree (bachelor level or higher), by sex and region of origin, 2006 to 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Percentage with a university degree (bachelor level or higher). The information is grouped by Region of origin (appearing as row headers), University diploma or degree (bachelor level or higher), Boys, Girls, Differences between boys and girls and Relative difference between boys and girls, calculated using percentage, percentage points and ratio units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Region of origin University diploma or degree (bachelor level or higher)
Boys Girls Differences between boys and girls Relative difference between boys and girls
percentage percentage points ratio
East Asia 62 72 10 1.15
South Asia 50 61 11 1.21
Oceania and others 24 32 8 1.36
North Africa 43 61 18 1.40
Western Europe 32 46 14 1.42
North America 32 45 13 1.43
Eastern Europe 38 55 17 1.44
Sub-Saharan Africa 39 56 17 1.44
South America 22 34 12 1.54
Central America 15 23 8 1.56
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 35 55 20 1.58
Southeast Asia 32 51 19 1.60
Southern Europe 29 46 17 1.60
Canada 21 36 15 1.71
Northern Europe 25 48 23 1.91
Caribbean and Bermuda 16 31 15 1.96

For example, among teens aged 13 to 17 in 2006 with an immigrant background from the Caribbean and Bermuda, girls were almost twice as likely as boys to have a university degree at the bachelor level or higher in 2016 (graduation rate of 31% and 16%, respectively, for a ratio of 1.96). In comparison, this gender gap was clearly lower among certain regions of origin; for example, the proportion of young women from East Asia who had a university degree was 72%, compared with 62% for young men (ratio of 1.15 between boys and girls). Boys from South Asia were also more successful, relative to girls from the same region, than their male counterparts whose parents were born in Canada.

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Characteristics of the parents and family and education outcomes

It is important to be cautious when interpreting the gaps in the education outcomes of youth by their region of origin. Among other things, these gaps can reflect differences in the children’s socioeconomic origin (e.g., Croll 2004) or their individual characteristics, which can vary depending on the region of origin. This section presents the different factors associated with education outcomes and how they can vary by region of origin.

In general, we know that children from more socioeconomically advantaged families are far more likely to enroll in and successfully complete postsecondary studies themselves (OECD 2017; Zafira 2012; etc.). The parents’ level of education is recognized, even more so than income level or family wealth, as being the factor most strongly associated with the academic success and perseverance of children—particularly at the postsecondary and university level (Childs et al. 2018).

The strength of correlation between the parents’ level of education and the children’s education outcomes is illustrated in Table A1 in the appendix. For example, from 2006 to 2016, among youth aged 13 to 17 whose parents had neither a high school diploma nor postsecondary credentials, 12% had a university degree at the bachelor level or higher 10 years later. In comparison, this proportion was 63% among youth who had at least one parent with a university degree above the bachelor level. Several reasons can explain the correlation between the parents’ level of education and the children’s education outcomes (see the textbox for more information about these reasons), but the fact is that this remains one of the most significant and consistent factors throughout the years.

As seen in Table A2 in the appendix, children with an immigrant background are more likely to have parents with a university degree. In 2006, 39% of children and teens with an immigrant background aged 9 to 17 lived with at least one parent who had a university degree. In comparison, this was the case for 26% of their counterparts from the third generation or higher.

Youth with an immigrant background from regions with the highest university graduation rates were also generally more likely to have parents with a higher level of education. This was the case for youth from all sub-regions of Asia and Africa. For example, in 2006, 62% of children aged 9 to 17 with a North African immigrant background lived with parents who had a university degree, compared with 52% for their East Asian counterparts.

In comparison, only 21% of children with an immigrant background from Central America and 20% of those from the Caribbean and Bermuda lived with a parent who had a university degree. As mentioned earlier, both these regions of origin were also the ones with the lowest university graduation rates.

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Parents’ education and children’s outcomes: why do children whose parents are more highly educated do better in school?

As many studies have shown, children whose parents have a higher level of education have an advantage in many aspects of their education. This advantage can be seen as soon as children enter elementary school and remains, or even increases, over the years.

Societies vary from one to another, with some placing more emphasis on social mobility. In addition, there are more opportunities for pursuing postsecondary studies, for children from all socioeconomic backgrounds, than there were prior to government funding for public schools (Croll 2004). This being said, inequality of opportunity at birth, by parents’ level of education, is a reality in Canada, as it is elsewhere in the world.

It may seem that children with more highly educated parents have better education outcomes and more often graduate from university because their family has greater financial means.

This is only partly true and is not the main reason for the explanation. At equal family income levels, children whose parents are more highly educated are more likely to earn a university degree. In addition, it has been shown in numerous studies that parents’ education has a greater influence than family income on education outcomes (Childs et al. 2018).

In fact, it is a combination of factors related to the values, expectations and behaviours of parents that explains the education outcomes of their children. First, parents with a higher level of education are more likely than others to participate in different activities related to positive education outcomes and associated with the “cultural capital” passed on by the family: reading and communicating with the children, participating in cultural activities, buying books for the household, encouraging new knowledge learning, etc. (Childs et al. 2018). This cultural capital is a determining factor in the educational achievement of children as soon as they start school.

In addition to providing increased material resources to promote their children’s educational achievement, more highly educated parents generally have greater aspirations and expectations in terms of their children’s education (Feliciano 2006).Note 8 This is reflected, for example, in the fact that parents who are more highly educated tend to save more money, such as through Registered Education Savings Plans, regardless of their income level, with savings more strongly correlated with the parents’ education level than the extent of their financial resources (Frenette 2017).

After hearing their parents repeatedly stress the importance of education, children internalize this message and develop high educational aspirations and expectations themselves. In their vision of the world, these children come to regard educational success as “normal” and expected, and even see the possibility of undertaking and completing university studies and having a professional occupation as “natural” (Dumais 2002).

In short, studies show that parents who are more highly educated give and transfer to their children a combination of resources and values that allow those children, more so than others, to undertake and successfully complete their high school and postsecondary studies, and often a university degree.

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Financial resources

Although financial resources have a lesser impact on education outcomes than the parents’ education level, financial resources can still play an active role in the children’s education pathways.

The relationship between family income during adolescence and the probability of graduating from university later on is also evident. For example, among youth whose families belonged to the lowest family income decile when they were between the ages of 13 and 17, 23% had a university degree; in comparison, this proportion was 58% among those who belonged to the highest family income decile (Table A1).

As seen in Table A2, the median family income in 2006 of children with an immigrant background ($62,340) was lower than that of children from the third generation or higher ($68,740) (despite a higher level of education of parents born outside Canada).

Median family incomes below $60,000 were reported among children whose parents were from Western and Central Asia and Middle East ($47,030), Central America ($54,610), and the Caribbean and Bermuda ($55,600). On the other hand, the median family incomes of children with an immigrant background from Northern Europe ($78,320) and North American ($74,010) were above those of children from the third generation or higher (Table A2).

Another economic capital indicator is the level of wealth, which can be measured by homeowner status in the census. In general, children with an immigrant background were somewhat less likely than children from the third generation or higher to be part of a family that owned its dwelling (78% and 84%, respectively). As with family income, these ownership rates vary by the region of origin.

Family structure and education outcomes

The family structure—regardless of the parents’ economic situation—is another factor that can affect the education outcomes of children. In general, children who live with two married parents are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to earn a postsecondary diploma (Abada et al. 2009; McLanahan and Percheski 2008). This is less often the case for children who grow up in a single-parent household. In these households, there are often fewer financial resources and parenting time resources are also scarcer, which can translates into a below-average level of support (homework help, review, etc.) (e.g., Astone and McLanahan 1991).

These trends are reflected in the integrated 2006 and 2016 census data (Table A1). Among children aged 9 to 13 who lived with a lone parent in 2006, 85% had at least a high school diploma 10 years later, compared with 95% of children who were living with both parents.

Children with an immigrant background are generally more likely than children from the third generation or higher to live with two married parents. Family structures, however, vary considerably by region of origin. For example, 41% of youth with an immigrant background from the Caribbean and Bermuda lived with a lone parent (Table A3). This proportion was also higher than average among those whose region of origin was sub-Saharan Africa (26%). In comparison, only 5% of youth with an immigrant background from South Asia lived with a lone parent (94% of them lived with married parents—the highest proportion among regions of origin).

The study also revealed that the type of area of residence—rural or urban—could have an impact on education pathways, particularly at the postsecondary level. In addition, the probability of enrolling in a university program increases as the distance between the area of residence and the educational institution decreases, all else being equal (Frenette 2002).

That said, children with an immigrant background are highly overrepresented in large metropolitan areas, where most postsecondary educational institutions are located (and therefore more easily accessible, since youth do not have to move out of the parental home, among others). More specifically, in 2006, 90% of children aged 9 to 17 with an immigrant background lived in a census metropolitan area (CMA), compared with only 60% of third- or higher-generation Canadian children.

Some regions of origin were associated with higher percentages of children living in a CMA. For example, almost all children with an immigrant background from East Asia, South Asia and North Africa lived in a CMA in 2006 (97% in each case). In contrast, this was less often the case among children with a Western European (68%) or Central American (71%) background.

In addition to human capital (parents’ education level), social capital (family structure) and economic capital characteristics (household income), some cultural capital elements can be positively associated with education outcomes. English–French bilingualism is positively associated with obtaining a diploma. For example, among youth aged 13 to 17 in 2006, 45% of those who were English–French bilingual had a university degree 10 years later, compared with 29% of those who were not bilingual (Table A1).

In general, children with an immigrant background were more likely to be English-French bilingual (22% compared with 19% of third- or higher-generation Canadian youth).

Among the other factors in the census that can have an impact on education pathways, it is important to mention the parents’ professional situation and residential stability, since some studies associated frequently moving and changing schools with less favourable education outcomes for children (Haelermans and De Witte 2015; Gasper et al. 2012).

These descriptive results shed light on the various situations in which children with an immigrant background evolve during childhood. Children from certain regions of origin may be more likely to have more educated parents but a below-average family income (e.g., those from East Asia).

At the same time, other children (e.g., those from North America) possess almost all the characteristics associated with school and academic success: more highly educated parents, higher-than-average income, residential stability, etc. Table A5 summarizes the extent to which the socioeconomic characteristics of children from different regions of origin stand out from those of all the other children. For example, the median after-tax family income of children from Central America was $7,900 less than that of all other youth. Moreover, the proportion of North American youth whose parents had a university degree was 17 percentage points higher than for all youth.

Multivariate analysis: at least a high school diploma

The results previously described can be summarized as follows: 1) for most regions of origin, children with an immigrant background have better academic outcomes than third- or higher-generation children; 2) the family and socioeconomic characteristics associated with the academic results of children with an immigrant background vary by their region of origin; 3) as regards one of the factors most strongly related to education outcomes, i.e., parents’ level of education, children with an immigrant background from most regions (except Central America, and the Caribbean and Bermuda) are privileged compared with their counterparts from the third generation or higher.

To what extent gaps between children and teens, in terms of education outcomes by region of origin, are due to differences in their socioeconomic characteristics?

For several regions of origin, taking into account the parents’ level of education and family income, family structure and other factors appreciably decreased the gap that separated them from third- or higher-generation children (Chart 2 and Table 2).

For example, without taking into account the profile of the family of origin, the probability that a child aged 9 to 13 with a Northern European immigrant background has at least a high school diploma was 4 percentage points above that of a child with Canadian-born parents. When the other factors were taken into account, the gap decreased to less than 1 percentage point (Chart 2).

Chart 2

Data table for Chart 2 
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2. The information is grouped by Region of origin (appearing as row headers), Observed difference and Adjusted difference (modelling), calculated using predicted probability units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Region of origin Observed difference Adjusted difference (modelling)
predicted probability
Central America -0.07 -0.01
North America 0.03 0.00
Western Europe 0.03 0.01
Northern Europe 0.04 0.01
Caribbean and Bermuda 0.00 0.01
Southern Europe 0.04 0.02
North Africa 0.03 0.03
South America 0.03 0.03
Oceania and others 0.06 0.03
Eastern Europe 0.06 0.03
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 0.06 0.05
South Asia 0.07 0.05
Southeast Asia 0.07 0.05
Sub-Saharan Africa 0.07 0.05
East Asia 0.08 0.05

Table 2
Predicted probability of having a diploma in 2016, children and teens aged 9 to 17 in 2006
Table summary
This table displays the results of Predicted probability of having a diploma in 2016 Type of diploma completed in 2016, At least a high school diploma, Postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree, University degree (bachelor level or higher) and University degree (bachelor level or higher) in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), calculated using predicted probability units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Type of diploma completed in 2016
At least a high school diplomaTable 2 Note 1 Postsecondary certificate, diploma or degreeTable 2 Note 2 University degree (bachelor level or higher)Table 2 Note 2 University degree (bachelor level or higher) in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)Table 2 Note 2
predicted probability
Region of origin (Model 1)
Canada (ref.) 0.94 0.69 0.27 0.05
Other countries 0.97Note * 0.75Note * 0.37Note * 0.08Note *
Region of origin breakdown (Model 2)
Canada (ref.) 0.94 0.69 0.26 0.05
North America 0.94 0.65Note * 0.28 0.04
Central America 0.93 0.63Note * 0.22 0.02Note *
Caribbean and Bermuda 0.95Note * 0.66 0.23Note * 0.04
South America 0.97Note * 0.71 0.25 0.06
Western Europe 0.95 0.72 0.31Note * 0.08Note *
Eastern Europe 0.97Note * 0.77Note * 0.38Note * 0.07Note *
Northern Europe 0.95 0.68 0.27 0.05
Southern Europe 0.96Note * 0.73Note * 0.32Note * 0.06
Sub-Saharan Africa 0.99Note * 0.75Note * 0.42Note * 0.10Note *
North Africa 0.97Note * 0.74 0.40Note * 0.10Note *
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 0.99Note * 0.80Note * 0.43Note * 0.10Note *
East Asia 0.99Note * 0.86Note * 0.66Note * 0.18Note *
Southeast Asia 0.99Note * 0.82Note * 0.40Note * 0.10Note *
South Asia 0.99Note * 0.81Note * 0.53Note * 0.12Note *
Oceania and other 0.97Note * 0.73 0.26 0.06
Parents’ highest level of education
No certificate, diploma or degree (ref.) 0.88 0.52 0.13 0.03
High school diploma 0.93Note * 0.63Note * 0.21Note * 0.04Note *
Postsecondary certificate or diploma below the bachelor level 0.95Note * 0.70Note * 0.26Note * 0.05Note *
Bachelor’s degree 0.97Note * 0.79Note * 0.46Note * 0.11Note *
University diploma, degree or certificate above the bachelor level 0.97Note * 0.81Note * 0.52Note * 0.12Note *
Economic family income decile
First (ref.) 0.92 0.63 0.23 0.06
Second 0.93 0.64 0.23 0.05
Third 0.94Note * 0.65 0.24 0.05
Fourth 0.94Note * 0.68Note * 0.26Note * 0.05
Fifth 0.95Note * 0.69Note * 0.25 0.05
Sixth 0.96Note * 0.70Note * 0.29Note * 0.06
Seventh 0.96Note * 0.72Note * 0.30Note * 0.06
Eighth 0.96Note * 0.74Note * 0.32Note * 0.06
Ninth 0.97Note * 0.76Note * 0.35Note * 0.07
Tenth 0.97Note * 0.79Note * 0.42Note * 0.07Note *
At least one parent works full-time
Yes (ref.) 0.95 0.68 0.29 0.06
No 0.95 0.71Note * 0.29 0.06
Dwelling in 2006
Renter (ref.) 0.92 0.63 0.23 0.05
Owner/value of dwelling less than $100,000 0.94Note * 0.69Note * 0.25Note * 0.05
Owner/value of dwelling between $100,000 and $250,000 0.96Note * 0.71Note * 0.28Note * 0.06Note *
Owner/value of dwelling more than $250,000 0.96Note * 0.75Note * 0.35Note * 0.07Note *
Family structure
Married couple 0.96Note * 0.72 0.30 0.06Note *
Common-law 0.94Note * 0.64Note * 0.23Note * 0.04Note *
Lone parent (ref.) 0.95 0.71 0.29 0.05
Residential stability over the last five years
Moved (ref.) 0.95 0.67 0.26 0.05
Did not move 0.96Note * 0.72Note * 0.31Note * 0.06Note *
Type of area of residence
Outside a metropolitan area (ref.) 0.95 0.73 0.27 0.06
Census agglomeration 0.95 0.71Note * 0.29Note * 0.06
Census metropolitan area 0.95 0.70Note * 0.30Note * 0.06
Area of residence
Atlantic 0.97Note * 0.72 0.35Note * 0.08Note *
Quebec 0.93Note * 0.80Note * 0.25Note * 0.04Note *
Ontario (ref.) 0.96 0.71 0.33 0.07
Prairies 0.96Note * 0.60Note * 0.33 0.07
Alberta 0.95Note * 0.62Note * 0.27Note * 0.07
British Columbia 0.96Note * 0.60Note * 0.24Note * 0.06Note *
Territories 0.85Note * 0.53Note * 0.20Note * 0.01Note *
English–French bilingualism
No (ref.) 0.95 0.69 0.27 0.05
Yes 0.97Note * 0.76Note * 0.40Note * 0.08Note *
Sex
Boy (ref.) 0.94 0.64 0.22 0.07
Girl 0.97Note * 0.77Note * 0.39Note * 0.05Note *
Age in 2006
9 years 0.94Note * Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
10 years 0.95Note * Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
11 years 0.96 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
12 years 0.96 Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
13 years (ref.) 0.96 0.63 0.24 0.06
14 years Note ...: not applicable 0.69Note * 0.28Note * 0.06
15 years Note ...: not applicable 0.73Note * 0.31Note * 0.06
16 years Note ...: not applicable 0.74Note * 0.33Note * 0.06
17 years Note ...: not applicable 0.75Note * 0.33Note * 0.06

A similar pattern was observed for children with an immigrant background from Central America. As previously mentioned, their parents are not as highly educated as the mean, their family income and resident ownership rates are lower, etc. (Tables A2 to A5). When these variables were held constant at their mean value, children with a Central American immigrant background were just as likely to have at least a high school diploma as children of Canadian-born parents (non-significant difference between the predicted probabilities).

That said, childhood socioeconomic and family characteristics were not sufficient to explain the greatest high school graduation rates for many children with an immigrant background, particularly all those from Asia and Africa (almost all of whom had a high school diploma and had completion probabilities of 99% in many cases) (Table 2). Other factors not taken into account could be behind these considerably higher-than-average results (for more information, see the “Why do the children of immigrants have better education outcomes?” textbox).

The influence of most of the other factors in the analysis was within expectations. The probability of having at least a high school diploma was higher among children aged 9 to 13 whose parents were more highly educated and had a higher family income, whose parents owned the dwelling, whose parents were married, who had not recently moved, who did not live in Quebec or in a territory (where the lowest graduation rates were recorded) and who were bilingual. Finally, girls aged 9 to 13 were more likely than boys to have at least a high school diploma (Table 2).

Multivariate analysis: postsecondary education

Without taking into account individual and family characteristics, teens with an immigrant background were more likely than third- or higher-generation youth to have a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree 10 years later (a difference of 5 percentage points, Table 1). Isolating the effects of the other factors produced a similar gap (Table 2).

Consideration of the factors associated with education outcomes did not have the same effect for all regions of origin. In certain cases, the gap was considerably smaller. For example, regardless of their socioeconomic characteristics, the probability that teens with parents from Central America have a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree was 16 percentage points lower than for their counterparts from the third generation or higher. When socioeconomic factors were taken into consideration, the gap decreased by more than half to 5 percentage points (Chart 3).

Chart 3

Data table for Chart 3 
Data table for Chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Datat table for Chart 3 Observed difference and Adjusted difference (appearing as column headers).
Observed difference Adjusted difference
Region of origin predicted probability
Central America -0.16 -0.05
North America -0.01 -0.04
Caribbean and Bermuda -0.06 -0.03
Northern Europe 0.01 -0.01
South America 0.01 0.03
Western Europe 0.05 0.03
Oceania and others -0.03 0.04
Southern Europe 0.05 0.08
North Africa 0.13 0.05
Sub-Saharan Africa 0.04 0.06
Eastern Europe 0.09 0.08
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 0.08 0.12
South Asia 0.10 0.13
Southeast Asia 0.10 0.14
East Asia 0.15 0.18

For teens from certain subcontinents, taking these factors into account instead increased the positive gap that distinguished them from third- or higher-generation youth. This was especially the case for youth from across Asia.

For example, without consideration of the socioeconomic factors and the other individual characteristics (initial gap), the probability that teens from Western and Central Asia would earn a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree was 8 percentage points higher than their counterparts from the third generation or higher. The adjusted gap, after taking into account the control variables, was 12 percentage points higher. A similar scenario was seen for youth from East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia: the gap was greater after consideration of the control variables.

These results suggest that if the socioeconomic family characteristics of Asian teens had been similar to those of average teens, their postsecondary graduation rate would have been even higher than the one observed.

Multivariate analysis: university degree

University is undeniably the level for which there are greater gaps between teens with an immigrant background and those from the third generation or higher. This educational level is also the one where the human, economic and cultural capital variables have the greatest impact. Furthermore, it appears that the effect of the “immigrant origin” factor on the likelihood of earning a university degree is the most significant. If we took into account their individual and family characteristics in 2006, the probability that youth with an immigrant background would earn a university degree was 10 percentage points higher than that of their counterparts whose parents were born in Canada (Table 2).

As was the case for the high school and postsecondary analyses in general, considering the factors associated with earning a university degree has a different impact depending on the region of origin.

Chart 4

Data table for Chart 4 
Data table for Chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Datat table for Chart 4. The information is grouped by Region of origin (appearing as row headers), Observed difference and Adjusted difference, calculated using predicated probability units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Region of origin Observed difference Adjusted difference
predicated probability
Central America -0.10 -0.04
Caribbean and Bermuda -0.05 -0.03
South America 0.00 -0.01
Oceania and others -0.01 0.00
Northern Europe 0.08 0.01
North America 0.10 0.02
Western Europe 0.10 0.05
Southern Europe 0.09 0.06
Eastern Europe 0.18 0.12
Southeast Asia 0.13 0.14
North Africa 0.23 0.14
Sub-Saharan Africa 0.19 0.16
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 0.16 0.17
South Asia 0.27 0.27
East Asia 0.38 0.40

For certain regions of origin such as sub-Saharan Africa and all sub-regions of Asia, results practically remained unchanged when the youth’s family and personal characteristics were taken into account. For example, if the other factors were or were not held constant, the predicted probability that a teen aged 13 to 17 in 2006 with a South Asian immigrant background (India, Sri Lanka) would have a university degree 10 years later was still 27 percentage points higher than for their Canadian-born counterparts (Chart 4).

In addition, the consideration or non-consideration of socioeconomic factors had almost no effect on the exceptional university graduation rates of children with an immigrant background from East Asia, and particularly children from China and Hong Kong (adjusted predicted probability of graduating from university of 66%). (Table 2).

These results are particularly noteworthy given: 1) the major impact that the parents’ education level has on the probability of teens earning a university degree;Note 9 2) that the parents of children from these regions are, on average, more highly educated. For teens from Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, we must therefore conclude that other factors not measured in the census are responsible for their clearly higher-than-average likelihood of graduating from university.

For teens from Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe and North Africa, taking into account the other variables decreased the difference that separated them from their counterparts from the third generation or higher, without eliminating it, however. All else being equal, they remained more likely to earn a university degree. For them also, other factors not measured in the census could explain the gaps in graduation rates.

Finally, for youth with an immigrant background from Northern Europe and North America, their greatest success in terms of university graduation rate was mostly due to the relatively favourable socioeconomic characteristics in their home environment (more highly educated parents, appreciably higher-than-average income, high prevalence of married parents, etc.). Given equivalent characteristics, they were not more likely than their counterparts from the third generation or higher to graduate from university (Chart 4).

Note that conclusions were similar for a university degree in a STEM field (Table 2, column 4). In fact, if the human capital, economic capital and other factors associated with education outcomes were taken into account, children with an immigrant background remained more likely than children of Canadian-born parents to earn such a degree. This was particularly true for youth from Africa and Asia, with youth from East Asia significantly standing out compared with youth from other regions of origin.

Start of text box
Why do the children of immigrants have better education outcomes?

As seen in this study, children with an immigrant background are more likely than their counterparts from the third or generation or higher to have a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree (particularly a university degree). Similar results were observed in the past in Canada (Abada et al. 2009) and in the United States (for a literature review, see Feliciano and Lanuza 2015).Note 10

Numerous reasons why children with an immigrant background attend and graduate from university are still unknown at this time.

One of the most common hypotheses behind these persistent gaps is the determining role and influence of parents of children with an immigrant background—that is, the immigrants themselves (Goyette and Xie 1999). According to a number of authors, immigrants form, by definition, a motivated and ambitious population; when they decide to leave their country, they anticipate a better future for themselves, but especially for their children (Feliciano 2005; Feliciano 2006). And this better future is often based on their children’s academic success.

In general, immigrant parents have higher expectations and aspirations for their children than parents born in this country and do everything they can to pass this ambition onto them (Feliciano and Lanuza 2015). This intergenerational transmission of objectives is thought to be easier since the children of immigrants often have a stronger sense of obligation toward their family than children of non-immigrant parents (Hardway, Fuligni and Witkow 2004).Note 11

Furthermore, within certain immigrant communities, the fact that children do well in school and graduate from university maintains, and even increases, the family’s status and level of prestige, which could also influence the parents’ and children’s motivation (e.g., Somerville and Robinson 2016).

Through these socialization processes, a number of children with an immigrant background are thought to assimilate the values transmitted by their parents and immigrant community members during childhood, which guides their academic choices and behaviours (e.g., Feliciano 2006; Feliciano and Lanuza 2015). In Canada, for example, a study that used Youth in Transition Survey data revealed that, at 15 years old, children with an immigrant background were more likely than their non-immigrant counterparts to want to enroll in and complete university studies (Krahn and Taylor 2005).

According to some authors, however, these explanations are not enough to account for the success of second-generation immigrants. In fact, even if we controlled a large number of factors such as parental aspirations, literacy and academic results during adolescence, children with an immigrant background would still be overrepresented among those who enroll in university (Childs et al. 2017).Note 12

End of text box

Higher probability of earning a university degree among children with an immigrant background whose parents are less educated

In most OECD countries, intergenerational education transmission is not as direct among children of immigrant parents as among other children (OECD 2017). However, less educated immigrants want their children to stay in school as long as possible, which is not as often the case with their counterparts from the third generation or higher (Feliciano 2006).

This study revealed the same findings as it relates to youth who graduate from university (the degree at which the association between the parents’ education and the children’s outcomes is the greatest).

Among children whose parents had at most a high school diploma or less, children with an immigrant background were more likely to have a university degree than children of Canadian-born parents, for almost all regions of origin.

More specifically, among third- or higher-generation Canadian youth whose parents had a high school diploma or less, the predicted probability (adjusted for the socioeconomic characteristics) of graduating from university was 11%. In comparison, this probability was 3 to 6 times greater for their counterparts with an immigrant background from sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, North Africa and East Asia (Table 3).


Table 3
Predicted probability of having a university diploma or degree in 2016 (bachelor level or higher), teens aged 13 to 17 in 2006, by parents’ highest level of education and region of origin
Table summary
This table displays the results of Predicted probability of having a university diploma or degree in 2016 (bachelor level or higher) Parents’ highest level of education, Impact of parents’ education, High school or less (ref.), Postsecondary certificate or diploma below the bachelor level, Bachelor’s degree and University diploma or degree above the bachelor level, calculated using predicted probability of earning a university degree and relative marginal effect units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Parents’ highest level of education Impact of parents’ educationTable 3 Note 1
High school or less (ref.) Postsecondary certificate or diploma below the bachelor level Bachelor’s degree University diploma or degree above the bachelor level
predicted probability of earning a university degree relative marginal effect
Region of origin
Canada 0.11 0.17Note * 0.34Note * 0.40Note * 270
Other countries 0.23 0.27Note * 0.47Note * 0.55Note * 139
Region of origin breakdown
Canada 0.11 0.17Note * 0.34Note * 0.40Note * 270
North America 0.20 0.22 0.52Note * 0.58Note * 190
Central America 0.09 0.23 0.46Note * 0.52Note * 451
Caribbean and Bermuda 0.15 0.17 0.31Note * 0.31Note * 106
South America 0.09 0.14 0.26Note * 0.38Note * 348
Western Europe 0.14 0.17 0.26Note * 0.34Note * 141
Eastern Europe 0.19 0.22 0.41Note * 0.44Note * 133
Northern Europe 0.16 0.16 0.37Note * 0.39Note * 153
Southern Europe 0.16 0.24Note * 0.47Note * 0.50Note * 206
Sub-Saharan Africa 0.35 0.39 0.46 0.59Note * 68
North Africa 0.44 0.37 0.77Note * 0.71Note * 63
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 0.12 0.19Note * 0.38Note * 0.40Note * 238
East Asia 0.62 0.68 0.76Note * 0.82Note * 31
Southeast Asia 0.25 0.24 0.33Note * 0.42Note * 67
South Asia 0.41 0.57Note * 0.69Note * 0.71Note * 72
Oceania and other 0.52 0.42 0.73 0.79 53

This was especially true with respect to youth with an immigrant background from East Asia whose parents had a high school diploma at most, their probability to graduate from university (62%) was even higher than for that of third- or higher-generation Canadians whose parents had a university degree above the bachelor level (40%) (Table 3).

In fact, in general and for most regions of origin, the level of educational attainment had a lesser impact on the outcomes of children with an immigrant background than on children of Canadian-born parents. This conclusion can be supported by calculating the relative marginal effect, which represents the increase, in percentage, of the predicted probability of graduating from university among youth whose parents have a university degree above the bachelor level compared with those whose parents had a high school diploma at most.

Thus, for youth from the third generation or higher, having parents who graduated from university (diploma, degree or certificate above the bachelor level), compared with parents with a high school diploma at most, increased their predicted probability of completing university studies by 270%. In comparison, for youth with an immigrant background from East Asia, having very highly educated parents (education above the bachelor level) compared with less highly educated parents (high school diploma at most) increased their predicted probability of earning a university degree by only 31%.

The only two regions of origin whose marginal effects were above those recorded for third- or higher-generation youth were Central America (451%) and South America (348%). For all other regions of origin, the parents’ level of educational attainment did not have as much of an impact on the youth’s probability of graduating from university.

To summarize the first part of this report, results have shown that children with an immigrant background were, overall, more likely to earn a high school and postsecondary diploma than children of Canadian-born parents. Certain regions of origin particularly stood out. Moreover, the adjusted predicted probability of graduating from university was higher than the mean for 9 of the 15 regions of origin: Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, Western and Central Asia and Middle East, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. If we neutralized the effect of the individual and family characteristics associated with the level of education, youth from all these regions were still more likely to have a university degree.

In contrast, the adjusted probability of graduating from university was similar to that of Canadian-born children for five regions of origin: North America, Central America, South America, Northern Europe, and Oceania and others. Finally, this probability was lower for children with an immigrant background from the Caribbean and Bermuda.

In the second part of the report, we look at the labour market outcomes of children with an immigrant background, again by their region of origin. Since a higher level of education is associated with more positive labour market outcomes, we would expect these employment indicators to be more favourable for children with an immigrant background from regions for which postsecondary graduation rates are the highest. But is this really the case?

Section 2: Labour market outcomes by region of origin

Two factors frequently explain why recent immigrants often have more trouble entering the labour market than non-immigrants: 1) earning a postsecondary diploma outside the country, since these diplomas are not always recognized as much by employers as Canadian diplomas; 2) insufficient knowledge of or proficiency in English or French.

Neither of these factors, however, should disadvantage the children with an immigrant background considered in this study. All of them were enrolled in the Canadian school system and almost all those who earned a high school or postsecondary diploma did so from a Canadian institution. In general, youth with an immigrant background have excellent knowledge of either English or French. Often, they even know a third language, which can be an asset.

This second section focuses on the outcomes of young adults aged 30 to 34 with an immigrant background, who, in most cases, joined the labour market (which is less often the case among 25- to 29-year-olds). Are the diplomas earned by young adults with an immigrant background from different regions of origin beneficial to them? In theory, the labour market outcomes of youth with an immigrant background are expected to be better than those of third- or higher-generation Canadians (and even better among youth from certain regions of origin such as East Asia or South Asia, where the graduation rate is significantly higher). In fact, given their higher level of education, better labour market outcomes for young adults with an immigrant background from North America and all sub-regions of Europe, Asia and Africa could be expected. If the level of education and possibly the field of study were taken into account, the gaps between the regions of origin should still be appreciably smaller (or eliminated compared with young adults born to Canadian parents).

Without controlling for other factors, the employment rate of young adults with an immigrant background (83.3%) was slightly higher than for those of Canadian-born parents (81.8.%). The employment rates nevertheless varied considerably from one region of origin to another (Table 4).

In 2016, the lowest employment rates were recorded by young adults with an immigrant background from Central America (76.8%), the Caribbean and Bermuda (78.2%), and Western and Central Asia and Middle East (78.3%). In contrast, 85.7% of children with an immigrant background from Southern Europe and 86.6% of those from East Asia were employed.


Table 4
Employment rates and full-time, full-year employment rates, individuals aged 30 to 34, by region of origin, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Employment rates and full-time Employment rates, Full-time, full-year employment rates, Total, Female and Male, calculated using percentage units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Employment rates Full-time, full-year employment rates
Total Female Male Total Female Male
percentage
Region of origin
Canada 81.8 78.9 84.8 51.4 44.1 58.8
Other countries 83.3 79.9 86.5 52.7 45.6 59.6
Region of origin breakdown
Canada 81.8 78.9 84.8 51.4 44.1 58.8
North America 81.3 76.5 85.9 50.2 41.0 59.2
Central America 76.8 67.4 86.6 45.9 35.0 57.2
Caribbean and Bermuda 78.2 76.8 79.7 46.0 42.1 50.4
South America 81.9 78.1 85.6 51.0 43.8 58.3
Western Europe 84.5 80.0 89.0 53.7 44.4 62.9
Eastern Europe 84.4 81.3 87.4 52.9 45.8 59.9
Northern Europe 84.2 80.4 88.0 54.3 46.2 62.1
Southern Europe 85.7 83.0 88.2 56.3 49.3 63.1
Sub-Saharan Africa 81.0 78.9 83.1 49.2 42.4 56.1
North Africa 81.5 79.6 83.2 46.3 39.3 53.1
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 78.3 72.5 83.8 47.1 39.1 54.6
East Asia 86.6 85.6 87.5 58.5 53.8 62.8
Southeast Asia 85.0 84.0 86.0 54.4 49.9 58.6
South Asia 82.6 77.6 87.3 51.5 44.4 58.2
Oceania and other 84.5 81.7 87.2 50.4 42.8 57.6

These employment rates also varied by sex and region of origin: women were less likely to be employed, and the gap between men and women was larger for certain regions of origin than for others. For example, 84% of women with an immigrant background from Southeast Asia were employed, while the proportion for men was almost identical (86%). In contrast, only 67.4% of women with an immigrant background from Central America were employed, compared with 86.6% of their male counterparts (Table 4).

The combined full-time, full-year employment rate for youth with an immigrant background was slightly above the rate recorded for their counterparts whose parents were born in Canada (52.7% and 51.4%, respectively).

However, this rate varied from as low as 45.9% for those whose region of origin was Central America to as high as 58.5% among those from East Asia.

In some ways, many of these gaps between regions of origin in terms of employment and full-time, full-year employment are expected (since high school and postsecondary graduation rates vary from one region of origin to another). This raises the question of whether, given the same level of education and sociodemographic characteristics, results would be the similar for youth with an immigrant background.

As seen in Table 5, when the level of education and the other sociodemographic variables are held constant, the predicted probability for a 30- to 34-year-old young adult whose parents were born in Canada of being employed was 84%. For youth with an immigrant background from several regions of origin, this probability is relatively similar.


Table 5
Predicted probability of employment and full-time, full-year employment, by region of origin, individuals aged 30 to 34, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Predicted probability of employment and full-time Employment rate and Full-time, full-year employment rate, calculated using predicted probability units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Employment rate Full-time, full-year employment rate
predicted probability
Region of origin breakdown
Canada (ref.) 0.84 0.52
North America 0.83Note * 0.50Note *
Central America 0.84 0.50Note *
Caribbean and Bermuda 0.79Note * 0.45Note *
South America 0.83Note * 0.50Note *
Western Europe 0.85 0.52
Eastern Europe 0.83Note * 0.49Note *
Northern Europe 0.85Note * 0.53
Southern Europe 0.87Note * 0.55Note *
Sub-Saharan Africa 0.79Note * 0.46Note *
North Africa 0.77Note * 0.42Note *
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 0.77Note * 0.44Note *
East Asia 0.83Note * 0.53Note *
Southeast Asia 0.86Note * 0.53
South Asia 0.81Note * 0.47Note *
Oceania and other 0.86 0.51
Highest level of education
No certificate, diploma or degree (ref.) 0.55 0.30
High school diploma 0.76Note * 0.46Note *
Postsecondary certificate or diploma below the bachelor level 0.86Note * 0.53Note *
Bachelor’s degree 0.91Note * 0.62Note *
University certificate, diploma or degree above the bachelor level 0.91Note * 0.58Note *
Sex
Women (ref.) 0.79 0.43
Men 0.88Note * 0.61Note *
Age in 2016
30 years (ref.) 0.84 0.51
31 years 0.84 0.51Note *
32 years 0.84Note * 0.52Note *
33 years 0.85Note * 0.52Note *
34 years 0.85Note * 0.53Note *
Area of residence
Atlantic 0.80Note * 0.50Note *
Quebec 0.87Note * 0.50Note *
Ontario (ref.) 0.84 0.55
Prairies 0.83Note * 0.53Note *
Alberta 0.83Note * 0.51Note *
British Columbia 0.84Note * 0.48Note *
Territories 0.79Note * 0.50Note *

However, employment probabilities adjusted by age, sex, region of origin and the highest level of educational attainment were lower among young adults from Western and Central Asia and Middle East (77%), North Africa (77%), the Caribbean and Bermuda (79 %), sub-Saharan Africa (79%), and South Asia (81%). In comparison, the adjusted employment probability of Canadian youth was 84%.

For full-time, full-year employment, the predicted probability of having been employed all year was 52% among young adults whose parents were born in Canada. Comparatively, adjusted full-time, full-year employment rates were lower for many other regions of origin. The adjusted predicted probabilities of full-time, full-year employment were lower among young adults with an immigrant background from North Africa (42%), Western and Central Asia and Middle East (44%), the Caribbean and Bermuda (45%), sub-Saharan Africa (46%), and South Asia (47%) (Table 5).Note 13

In summary, despite having a higher level of education than their counterparts whose parents were born in Canada, numerous young adults with an immigrant background are unable to find stable, full-time employment.

Variations in employment earnings by region of origin

Globally, the median annual earnings of young adults with an immigrant background were higher than those of their counterparts born to Canadian parents ($46,580 and $43,470 respectively, for a difference of about $3,110) (Table 6).

This positive difference was greater among young adults from East Asia, who earned $12,200 more annually than third- or higher-generation Canadians. In contrast, the median annual earnings of young adults with an immigrant background from Central America and the Caribbean and Bermuda were lower by $5,030 and $5,800, respectively.


Table 6
Differences in annual median employment earnings, by region of origin, individuals aged 30 to 34, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Differences in annual median employment earnings Annual earnings, Annual earnings, full-time, full-year employment, Annual earnings full-time, full-year employment, among those with university degree (bachelor level or higher), Total, Female and Male, calculated using dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Annual earnings Annual earnings, full-time, full-year employment Annual earnings full-time, full-year employment, among those with university degree (bachelor level or higher)
Total Female Male Total Female Male Total Female Male
dollars
Region of origin
Canada (reference category) 43,470 35,530 52,430 53,920 46,840 59,840 66,190 61,420 72,880
Other countries 3,110 5,130 490 3,330 5,740 1,290 2,220 2,580 870
Region of origin breakdown
Canada (reference category) 43,470 35,530 52,430 53,920 46,840 59,840 66,190 61,420 72,880
North America -440 -310 410 2,550 3,010 1,880 1,680 1,940 -860
Central America -5,030 -4,560 -6,630 -5,540 -3,030 -7,810 -6,380 -5,060 -7,410
Caribbean and Bermuda -5,800 250 -12,670 -6,020 490 -11,380 -5,610 -2,650 -8,510
South America -690 3,540 -6,070 -1,630 2,670 -4,420 -1,770 -400 -3,700
Western Europe 2,980 2,180 4,070 3,510 3,180 3,580 810 -860 730
Eastern Europe 5,630 7,720 3,250 5,800 8,450 3,840 3,610 3,680 2,910
Northern Europe 3,990 3,860 3,320 4,080 4,610 3,360 1,930 2,090 1,340
Southern Europe 4,180 4,350 3,250 2,920 3,320 2,450 1,970 970 2,350
Sub-Saharan Africa 3,730 6,820 -1,190 4,780 9,180 1,200 3,230 4,490 190
North Africa 2,970 4,330 50 6,460 7,570 4,360 3,220 1,140 3,650
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 2,180 4,470 -530 5,820 7,820 4,230 4,140 2,930 2,560
East Asia 12,200 16,540 6,460 10,660 15,120 6,770 4,420 5,730 1,580
Southeast Asia 2,660 7,370 -2,950 1,160 6,230 -2,950 2,880 5,340 -950
South Asia 6,030 8,990 2,750 6,900 10,520 4,700 3,800 3,720 3,840
Oceania and others 3,020 4,280 310 2,130 6,800 510 2,600 3,950 250

The multivariate quantile regression analysis illustrates the determining role that level of education has on employment earnings. Based on this analysis, the median annual earnings of university graduates aged 30 to 34 were $36,220 higher than those of individuals who did not graduate from high school (Table 7).

When the results were adjusted to account for level of education, age, sex and area of residence, the predicted median earnings of young adults with an immigrant background were lower compared with those of their counterparts from the third generation or higher for 11 of the 15 regions of origin.


Table 7
Adjusted median earnings, by region of origin and other characteristics taken into account by the regression, 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Adjusted median earnings Annual earnings, Annual earnings, full-time, full-year employment, Annual earnings full-time, full-year employment, among those with university degree (bachelor level or higher), Total, Female and Male, calculated using dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Annual earnings Annual earnings, full-time, full-year employment Annual earnings full-time, full-year employment, among those with university degree (bachelor level or higher)
        Total       Female       Male       Total       Female       Male       Total       Female       Male
dollars
Region of origin breakdown
Canada (ref.) Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
North America -3,290Note * -2,750Note * -4,270Note * -1,690Note * -710 -2,250Note * 510 1,130 -1,390
Central America -2,910Note * -1,690Note * -4,120Note * -3,060Note * -2,720Note * -3,840Note * -4,810Note * -2,880 -7,270Note *
Caribbean and Bermuda -5,350Note * -850 -10,220Note * -4,680Note * -420 -9,440Note * -4,560Note * -2,810Note * -6,950Note *
South America -2,460Note * 1,380 -6,090Note * -2,150Note * 680 -4,630Note * -3,540Note * -1,560 -6,970Note *
Western Europe -990Note * -1,090Note * -1,010 -610 -130 -950 -1,670Note * -1,250 -2,220Note *
Eastern Europe -370 1,800Note * -2,400Note * -170 1,500Note * -1,750Note * -1,080 -150 -2,400Note *
Northern Europe -480 1,010Note * -2,050Note * -360 630 -1,360Note * -640 -870 -400
Southern Europe 2,470Note * 2,940Note * 2,110Note * 1,840Note * 1,850Note * 1,480Note * 1,580Note * 1,830Note * 790
Sub-Saharan Africa -3,890Note * 190 -8,060Note * -2,150Note * 1,190 -5,140Note * -1,350 340 -3,330Note *
North Africa -2,080Note * -1,900 -3,000Note * 2,350Note * 2,720 2,620 790 2,390 -360
Western and Central Asia and Middle East -2,570Note * -820 -3,720Note * 1,230 2,920Note * -170 -370 680 -1,110
East Asia 1,280Note * 7,550Note * -4,050Note * 20 3,950Note * -3,930Note * -120 2,260Note * -3,450Note *
Southeast Asia -1,050Note * 5,310Note * -6,630Note * -2,200Note * 2,520Note * -6,590Note * -2,550Note * -190 -6,160Note *
South Asia -350 2,750Note * -3,730Note * 60 2,780Note * -1,990Note * -1,760Note * -1,170 -3,030Note *
Oceania and others -590 4,350Note * -5,100Note * -1,560 3,050 -4,980Note * -1,390 -1,410 -4,850
Highest level of education
No certificate, diploma or degree (ref.) Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
High school diploma 8,900Note * 9,690Note * 7,920Note * 6,710Note * 7,820Note * 5,750Note * Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
Postsecondary certificate or diploma below the bachelor level 18,310Note * 15,370Note * 20,690Note * 15,530Note * 12,550Note * 18,000Note * Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
Bachelor’s degree 32,740Note * 31,950Note * 32,370Note * 30,490Note * 30,540Note * 29,540Note * -3,190Note * -3,760Note * -2,610Note *
University diploma, degree or certificate above the bachelor level 36,220Note * 36,920Note * 33,280Note * 35,690Note * 37,010Note * 32,780Note * reference reference reference
Sex
Women (ref.) Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
Men 18,120Note * Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 13,670Note * Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 6,140Note * Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
Age
30 years (ref.) Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
31 years 1,970Note * 1,410Note * 2,510Note * 1,640Note * 1,640Note * 1,830Note * 2,680Note * 2,390Note * 2,900Note *
32 years 3,340Note * 2,310Note * 4,560Note * 3,430Note * 2,830Note * 3,920Note * 5,450Note * 4,320Note * 6,750Note *
33 years 4,830Note * 3,150Note * 6,560Note * 4,720Note * 3,900Note * 5,630Note * 8,000Note * 6,180Note * 10,110Note *
34 years 6,670Note * 5,110Note * 8,300Note * 6,400Note * 5,440Note * 7,430Note * 11,150Note * 9,640Note * 13,380Note *
Area of residence
Atlantic -5,900Note * -4,940Note * -7,200Note * -5,870Note * -5,190Note * -6,580Note * -7,760Note * -6,210Note * -9,810Note *
Quebec -5,430Note * -2,710Note * -8,160Note * -7,440Note * -5,930Note * -8,870Note * -11,990Note * -11,130Note * -13,250Note *
Ontario (ref.) Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
Prairies 2,230Note * -220 4,760Note * 2,830Note * 1,390Note * 4,200Note * -420 370 -1,160
Alberta 13,420Note * 6,550Note * 19,700Note * 15,650Note * 11,180Note * 19,560Note * 13,160Note * 11,090Note * 16,010Note *
British Columbia -600Note * -2,840Note * 1,380Note * 820Note * -800Note * 2,200Note * -3,470Note * -3,780Note * -3,040Note *
Territories 11,460Note * 15,340Note * 8,110Note * 23,200Note * 21,840Note * 23,060Note * 22,250Note * 21,110Note * 23,940Note *
Field of study (university degree)
Science and science technology Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 12,140Note * 11,020Note * 13,390Note *
Engineering and engineering technology Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 33,020Note * 33,160Note * 34,580Note *
Mathematics and computer and information science Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 22,500Note * 19,560Note * 24,580Note *
Business and administration Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 22,130Note * 18,340Note * 26,310Note *
Arts and humanities (ref.) Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable
Social and behavioural sciences Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 9,200Note * 7,160Note * 12,720Note *
Legal professions and studies Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 33,900Note * 30,490Note * 38,220Note *
Health care Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 27,050Note * 26,380Note * 26,470Note *
Education and teaching Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 12,110 12,060Note * 10,930Note *
Trades, services, natural resources and conservation Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable Note ...: not applicable 10,520Note * 9,470Note * 12,180Note *
Constant 14,090Note * 15,870Note * 31,310Note * 26,740Note * 27,750Note * 39,880Note * 48,470Note * 50,520Note * 51,960Note *

The difference was particularly significant for young adults with an immigrant background from the Caribbean and Bermuda, and sub-Saharan Africa. More specifically, the predicted median earnings of individuals aged 30 to 34 with an immigrant background from the Caribbean and Bermuda were $5,350 lower than those of third- or higher-generation Canadians (Table 7). Among men, the difference was even greater: predicted median earnings of men aged 30 to 34 whose region of origin was the Caribbean and Bermuda were $10,220 lower than those of their counterparts whose region of origin was Canada, when the other factors considered were held constant. For men with an immigrant background from sub-Saharan Africa, the gap in earnings compared with their Canadian counterparts was $8,060, when other factors were taken into account.

Full-time, full-year employment earnings

Some of the earnings gaps can be explained by the likelihood of individuals from certain regions to work part-time (whether voluntary or not). By analyzing the earnings of those who worked full time, full year, we compare individuals in a similar situation in terms of hours and weeks worked in 2015.

In general and without taking into account differences in profiles, the median salary of youth with an immigrant background who worked full time, full year was $3,330 higher than that of individuals whose parents were born in Canada (Table 6). However, if we took into consideration that their level of education was higher for most regions of origin, the picture changed noticeably.

The example was particularly noteworthy among men with an immigrant background from East Asia (who, as we know, are among the most likely to have a university degree). For these individuals, the unadjusted annual earnings for full-time, full-year employment were $6,770 higher than those of third- or higher-generation Canadians (Table 6). In contrast, given equivalent levels of education and sociodemographic characteristics, their predicted earnings were $3,930 lowerthan those of third- or higher-generation Canadians (Table 7 and Chart 5A). In fact, for men from most regions of origin, adjusted median annual earnings were lower than those of Canadian-born parents individuals.

Chart 5a

Data table for Chart 5a 
Data table for Chart 5a
Table summary
This table displays the results of Datat table for Chart 5a. The information is grouped by Region of origin (appearing as row headers), Observed difference and Adjusted difference, calculated using dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Region of origin Observed difference Adjusted difference
dollars
North America 1,880 -2,250
Central America -7,810 -3,840
Caribbean and Bermuda -11,380 -9,440
South America -4,420 -4,630
Western Europe 3,580 -950
Eastern Europe 3,840 -1,750
Northern Europe 3,360 -1,360
Southern Europe 2,450 1,480
Sub-Saharan Africa 1,200 -5,140
North Africa 4,360 2,620
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 4,230 -170
East Asia 6,770 -3,930
Southeast Asia -2,950 -6,590
South Asia 4,700 -1,990
Oceania and others 510 -4,980

The picture was not as clear where women were concerned. While women whose region of origin was Central America had lower adjusted earnings (-$2,720), this was not the case for women from the other regions of origin. In general, their median earnings were similar to or greater than those of third- or higher-generation Canadians (Chart 5B).

Chart 5b

Data table for Chart 5b 
Data table for Chart 5b
Table summary
This table displays the results of Datat table for Chart 5b. The information is grouped by Region of origin (appearing as row headers), Observed difference and Adjusted difference, calculated using dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Region of origin Observed difference Adjusted difference
dollars
North America 3,010 -710
Central America -3,030 -2,720
Caribbean and Bermuda 490 -420
South America 2,670 680
Western Europe 3,180 -130
Eastern Europe 8,450 1,500
Northern Europe 4,610 630
Southern Europe 3,320 1,850
Sub-Saharan Africa 9,180 1,190
North Africa 7,570 2,720
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 7,820 2,920
East Asia 15,120 3,950
Southeast Asia 6,230 2,520
South Asia 10,520 2,780
Oceania and others 6,800 3,050

Earnings of university graduates who work full time, full year, by field of study

The last indicator considered, in terms of labour market outcomes, is the annual earnings of university graduates who worked full time, full year.

As previously shown, youth with an immigrant background are more likely to choose a scientific field (STEM) for their university studies. These fields of study should lead to better-paying jobs (Wall et al. 2018) and therefore higher earnings among individuals with an immigrant background.

Without consideration of their field of study and their other characteristics, youth with an immigrant background who had a university degree and worked full time, full year had slightly higher earnings than their third- or higher-generation counterparts ($2,220 more; see Table 6 for unadjusted results). The positive difference was even greater among women with an immigrant background who graduated from university ($2,580 more).

After neutralizing the effect of the field of study in addition to the other sociodemographic characteristics, the picture remained similar for female university graduates from most regions of origin. These women’s annual earnings were similar to their counterparts whose parents were born in Canada, or even higher in the case of female university graduates from East Asia (+$2,260) and Southern Europe (+$1,830).

The picture was different for male university graduates and who worked full time, full year. The annual earnings of men in this group with an immigrant background were lower than those of their non-immigrant counterparts for 9 of the 15 regions of origin (Table 7). The greatest differences were recorded among university graduates whose region of origin was Central America (-$7,270), South America (-$6,970), the Caribbean and Bermuda (-$6,950) and Southeast Asia (-$6,160). Among men, the regions of origin for which employment earnings were closest to Canadians from the third generation or higher were Northern Europe, Southern Europe and North Africa.

A number of reasons can explain these gaps in annual earnings for male university graduates who worked full time, full year, by their region of origin, such as limited social networks and lack of ties within recognized businesses, discrimination, etc. Nevertheless, the objective of this study is not to shed light on these reasons, and the variables needed to conduct such an analysis are not necessarily included in the census.

That said, the labour market gaps qualify the generally positive picture in terms of the education outcomes of youth with an immigrant background. For an equivalent level of education (and equivalent field of study in the case of university graduates), young men with an immigrant background from most regions of origin have lower employment earnings than men whose parents were born in Canada. Such trends were, however, not observed among women.

Conclusion

This study confirmed an overall result seen in other studies—children with an immigrant background have better education outcomes than children of Canadian-born parents. Using integrated 2006 and 2016 census data, this study dug deeper into these general findings and analyzed the extent to which education and labour market outcomes of children with an immigrant background varied by region of origin, that is, where their parents were born.

The first question we wanted to answer was: “How do children with an immigrant background differ from one another in terms of education outcomes, by their region of origin and if we account for variations in their family and socioeconomic situations during childhood?”

In terms of high school education, children with an immigrant background from practically all regions of origin were more likely to have at least completed a high school diploma than children of Canadian-born parents. Children with an African and Asian immigrant background particularly stood out: their probability to succeed and graduate from high school was close to 100%. The differences between the regions of origin of youth with an immigrant background were relatively small, however, since the vast majority of youth graduate from high school.

At the university level, however, there were larger gaps between regions. After neutralizing the impact of the parents’ level of education, family income and family structure during adolescence, the predicted university graduation rates were lower among youth from the Caribbean and Bermuda (23% compared with 26% for youth born to Canadian parents).

In contrast, the adjusted predicted rates for earning a university degree were highest among youth with an immigrant background from North Africa (40%), Southeast Asia (40%), sub-Saharan Africa (42%), South Asia (53%) and East Asia (66%).

The parents’ level of education, the characteristic most closely associated with education outcomes, often had a lower incidence on youth with an immigrant background. When their parents had a relatively lower level of education, children with an immigrant background far exceeded children of Canadian-born parents in terms of university graduation rates. Factors not measured by the census can explain these persistent differences in favour of children with an immigrant background from certain regions compared with children of Canadian-born parents (e.g., greater aspirations and expectations from immigrant parents in terms of their children’s education).

The second research question was: “Do the benefits observed among children with an immigrant background, in terms of education outcomes, translate into measurable benefits on the labour market (employment and wages)?”

Results suggest that youth with an immigrant background from certain regions of origin had a lesser return on investment in their formal education. The full-time, full-year employment rates, adjusted by level of education, were therefore lower for young adults from North Africa, Western and Central Asia and Middle East, the Caribbean and Bermuda, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southern Asia than for those whose parents were born in Canada.

In terms of employment earnings (wages), those of women with an immigrant background were generally similar to those of women whose parents were born in Canada. The same was not true for men. At the same level of education, full-time, full-year employment earnings of men with an immigrant background were lower than those of third- or higher-generation Canadians, for many regions of origin. The disadvantages in terms of full-time employment earnings were particularly significant among men from the following regions of origin: Central America, the Caribbean and Bermuda, South America, sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania and others. Among university graduates, the adjusted employment earnings of men with an immigrant background who work full time were also lower than their third- or higher-generation counterparts, even when taking into account the fields of study, which vary depending on the region of origin.

The census does not measure the extent to which cultural factors or factors related to discrimination or to higher or lower aspirations by region are associated with education and labour market results. It also does not examine the scope and influence of knowledge networks or measure the number of years of experience in the labour market (including during postsecondary studies).

However, the study does help determine, within recent cohorts of youth with an immigrant background, which origin groups do better and which have more difficulties earning a high school, postsecondary and university qualification. More in-depth studies on the most at-risk groups would help to identify the challenges and opportunities that contribute to their success and difficulties.


Table A1
Percentage of children and teens aged 9 to 17 in 2006 who had a diploma in 2016, by type of diploma and family and individual characteristics in 2006
Table summary
This table displays the results of Percentage of children and teens aged 9 to 17 in 2006 who had a diploma in 2016 Type of diploma completed in 2016, At least a high school diploma, Postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree and University degree (bachelor level or higher), calculated using percentage units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Type of diploma completed in 2016
At least a high school diplomaTable A1 Note 1 Postsecondary certificate, diploma or degreeTable A1 Note 2 University degree (bachelor level or higher)Table A1 Note 2
percentage
Parents’ highest level of education
No certificate, diploma or degree 77 46 12
High school diploma 89 59 21
Postsecondary certificate or diploma below the bachelor level 92 67 26
Bachelor’s degree 97 80 54
University diploma, degree or certificate above the bachelor level 98 83 63
Income level (deciles)
First 84 54 23
Second 86 57 22
Third 89 59 23
Fourth 90 63 25
Fifth 92 66 26
Sixth 94 68 30
Seventh 95 71 33
Eighth 96 73 37
Ninth 97 77 44
Tenth 98 82 58
At least one parent works full-time
No 85 41 14
Yes 94 53 22
Dwelling in 2006
Renter (reference) 83 53 19
Owner/value of dwelling less than $100,000 88 64 20
Owner/value of dwelling between $100,000 and $250,000 93 69 30
Owner/value of dwelling more than $250,000 97 75 46
Type of family
Two married parents 95 71 37
Two common-law parents 86 63 20
Lone parent 85 58 22
Residential stability over the last five years
No 91 63 29
Yes 93 71 35
Type of area of residence
Rural 89 64 22
Census agglomeration 90 64 26
Census metropolitan area 94 70 37
Area of residence
Atlantic 94 67 31
Quebec 88 75 26
Ontario 94 70 39
Prairies 91 55 29
Alberta 92 62 32
British Columbia 95 62 33
Territories 74 47 20
English–French bilingualism
No 91 65 29
Yes 96 79 45
Sex
Boy 90 62 25
Girl 94 75 41

Table A2
Socioeconomic situation of children and teens aged 9 to 17 in 2006, by parents’ level of education and region of origin
Table summary
This table displays the results of Socioeconomic situation of children and teens aged 9 to 17 in 2006 Parents’ highest level of education, Socioeconomic situation of family, High school diploma or less, Postsecondary certificate or diploma below the bachelor level, University degree (bachelor level or higher), Median after-tax income of economic family, Parents own dwelling and At least one parent works full-time, calculated using percentage and dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Parents’ highest level of education Socioeconomic situation of family
High school diploma or less Postsecondary certificate or diploma below the bachelor level University degree (bachelor level or higher) Median after-tax income of economic family Parents own dwelling At least one parent works full-time
percentage dollars percentage
Total 23 46 30 66,960 82 91
Region of origin
Canada 24 50 26 68,740 84 92
Other countries 23 38 39 62,340 78 89
Region of origin breakdown
Canada 24 50 26 68,740 84 92
North America 16 37 47 74,010 84 93
Central America 40 38 21 54,610 67 87
Caribbean and Bermuda 22 57 20 55,600 65 84
South America 27 46 27 60,870 71 90
Western Europe 14 48 39 70,360 85 93
Eastern Europe 11 39 50 60,340 75 93
Northern Europe 18 46 36 78,320 88 94
Southern Europe 34 41 25 72,310 87 93
Sub-Saharan Africa 18 41 41 61,790 62 81
North Africa 9 30 62 57,480 61 83
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 25 32 43 47,030 66 79
East Asia 23 24 52 51,150 81 85
Southeast Asia 27 35 38 63,170 79 90
South Asia 26 26 47 56,080 78 91
Oceania and others 28 47 25 70,540 83 93

Table A3
Individual, family and area of residence characteristics of children and teens aged 9 to 17 in 2006, by region of origin
Table summary
This table displays the results of Individual Family situation, Area of residence, Cultural capital, Two married parents, Common-law, Lone parent, Residential stability over the last five years, Rural, Census agglomeration, Census metropolitan area and English–French bilingualism, calculated using percentage units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Family situation Area of residence Cultural capital
Two married parents Common-law Lone parent Residential stability over the last five years Rural Census agglomeration Census metropolitan area English–French bilingualism
percentage
Total 73 10 17 66 18 12 69 20
Region of origin
Canada 69 13 18 70 24 16 60 19
Other countries 80 4 16 56 5 5 90 22
Region of origin breakdown
Canada 69 13 18 70 24 16 60 19
North America 77 7 17 68 18 13 69 23
Central America 72 8 19 54 17 12 71 23
Caribbean and Bermuda 55 5 41 56 2 2 96 24
South America 72 7 21 54 3 3 94 20
Western Europe 76 8 16 68 20 12 68 25
Eastern Europe 83 4 13 51 3 3 94 27
Northern Europe 78 5 17 66 11 11 79 18
Southern Europe 84 3 12 69 2 3 94 23
Sub-Saharan Africa 70 3 26 51 3 3 94 24
North Africa 84 2 13 51 1 2 97 48
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 86 1 13 44 2 2 96 33
East Asia 86 2 12 52 1 2 97 17
Southeast Asia 81 4 15 54 1 4 95 17
South Asia 94 1 5 43 1 2 97 17
Oceania and others 78 3 19 65 8 8 84 15

Table A4
Area of residence of children and teens aged 9 to 17 in 2006, by region of origin
Table summary
This table displays the results of Area of residence of children and teens aged 9 to 17 in 2006 Area of residence in 2006, Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies, Alberta, British Columbia and Territories, calculated using percentage units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Area of residence in 2006
Atlantic Quebec Ontario Prairies Alberta British Columbia Territories
percentage
Total 7 24 40 7 10 11 0
Region of origin
Canada 9 29 34 8 11 9 0
Other countries 2 15 55 4 9 16 0
Region of origin breakdown
Canada 9 29 34 8 11 9 0
North America 9 12 42 5 13 18 0
Central America 1 24 43 11 12 10 0
Caribbean and Bermuda 1 24 66 2 3 4 0
South America 0 20 63 6 6 5 0
Western Europe 4 24 39 5 12 15 0
Eastern Europe 1 14 62 5 9 9 0
Northern Europe 3 3 56 5 13 18 0
Southern Europe 1 17 69 3 4 7 0
Sub-Saharan Africa 1 14 57 4 10 13 0
North Africa 1 63 29 2 4 2 0
Western and Central Asia and Middle East 2 27 53 2 8 8 0
East Asia 1 7 47 2 10 33 0
Southeast Asia 1 11 48 7 14 19 0
South Asia 0 6 66 2 6 20 0
Oceania and others 0 2 16 5 16 60 1

Table A5
Differences between the average results for region of origins and the average results for all children, by certain family and individual characteristics, children and teens aged 9 to 17 in 2006
Table summary
This table displays the results of Differences between the average results for region of origins and the average results for all children. The information is grouped by Region of origin breakdown (appearing as row headers), Median after-tax income of economic family, Parents’ level of education (university diploma or degree or higher), Parents own dwelling, Lives with married parents, Residential stability over the last five years, Lives in a CMA, Does not live in Quebec, English–French bilingualism and Difference between the average for the region of origin and the average for all children, calculated using dollars and gap between totals in percentage points units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Region of origin breakdown Median after-tax income of economic family Parents’ level of education (university diploma or degree or higher) Parents own dwelling Lives with married parents Residential stability over the last five years Lives in a CMA Does not live in Quebec English–French bilingualism
Difference between the average for the region of origin and the average for all children
dollars gap between totals in percentage points
Canada 1,200 -4 2 -3 4 -9 -4 -1
North America 2,900 17 2 4 2 0 12 3
Central America -7,900 -9 -16 0 -12 2 1 3
Caribbean and Bermuda -5,100 -10 -17 -18 -10 27 0 4
South America -3,300 -3 -11 0 -12 24 4 0
Western Europe 1,200 8 2 4 2 -1 0 5
Eastern Europe -1,600 20 -7 11 -15 25 10 7
Northern Europe 5,100 6 6 6 0 9 21 -2
Southern Europe 1,900 -6 5 12 3 25 7 3
Sub-Saharan Africa -3,800 11 -20 -2 -14 25 10 5
North Africa -5,500 32 -21 12 -14 27 -38 28
Western and Central Asia and Middle East -11,000 13 -16 13 -22 27 -2 14
East Asia -7,200 22 -1 14 -13 28 17 -2
Southeast Asia -3,700 8 -3 8 -12 26 14 -2
South Asia -7,800 17 -4 21 -23 27 19 -3
Oceania and others 500 -5 1 5 -1 15 22 -4

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