Second generation immigrants pull ahead of mainstream Canadians in wages, prosperity

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

We always hear stories about how new immigrants to Canada aren't fairing very well these days.

The headlines tell us that they're underemployed and that an increasing number of them are living in poverty.

But according to a new study, we shouldn't fret — their grand-kids will do very well in Canada. In fact, they'll do much better than the average 'mainstream' Canadian.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto, University of Western Ontario and McGill University, indicates that second-generation immigrants in the U.S., Canada, and Australia are more successful than the respective mainstream populations.

In Canada, the predecessors of each immigrant group studied had a higher level of education and higher occupational status than third and higher generation whites. The statistics are even more pronounced with regards to Chinese and South Asian immigrants.

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"In all three countries, the economic status of second-generation Chinese, South Asian, and other Asian groups is higher than that of the main-stream population in the same age group," notes the report.

"The mainstream population aged 25-39 has average household incomes of $56 000 in the US, $50 000 in Canada, and $47 000 in Australia. In comparison, the Chinese second generation household incomes are $67 000 in the US, $63 000 in Canada, and $57 000 in Australia."

Immigration attorney Michael Niren says that this study illustrates the positive impact that immigration has on our country.

"Often governments are short sighted in crafting policies focusing on just the credentials of the applicants themselves rather than the potential benefits their offspring can bring," he told Yahoo! Canada News.

"Immigration benefits are not always immediate.  Children of immigrants schooled and raised in Canada with the strong worth ethic of their immigrant parents is a powerful combination. Unfortunately  government policy is too short sighted and many applicants are refused visas who would likely contribute though their children."

Nick Noorani, founder of the Canadian Immigrant Magazine, says he's not surprised by the results either.

"I'm not surprised because of the immigrant ethic," Noorani, who now operates PrepareForCanada.com, told Yahoo!.

"If you ask 25 immigrants why they came here, 24 of them will say 'we came here because of our kids...We come here to give them a better a life, a better chance and something that they couldn't have back home.'"

Unlike Niren however, Noorani doesn't believe the study should have implications on federal policy — he thinks it's a lesson for all Canadians.

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"This [study] only proves one thing. And that is immigrants bring in generations of taxpayers, he said.

"And we should stop looking at immigrants as 'you're only a solution for today and tomorrow.' We should look at it [in terms of] generations.

"Sometimes we forget that."