Children of immigrants succeeding academically and professionally in Canada

CIC News
Published: October 28, 2008

Two recently released reports have shown that the children of Canadian immigrants are faring well in Canadian post-secondary institutions and therefore seeing increased success in the work force.  Many Canadian families have a similar story of parents immigrating to Canada and working hard to make sure that their kids could stay in school.  These efforts are paying off as their children are helping the family to realize the Canadian Dream.

According to a study from the Montreal-based Institute for Research on Public Policy, the real test of a society's inclusiveness is the academic and professional success of immigrants' children.  The study shows a positive overall pattern for immigration in that most second-generation immigrants are more educated and in fact, earn more money than the children of Canadian-born parents.

A Statistics Canada report from the 2002 Ethnic Diversity Survey states that almost all children of immigrants finish high school (94 per cent), slightly above the completion rates of children with Canadian-born parents (88 per cent).  At the university level, the gap widens with 38 per cent of children of immigrants completing their degrees compared to 28 per cent of those with Canadian-born parents.

However, the results vary significantly depending upon the nationality and culture of the immigrant parents.  In terms of education, 70 per cent of children of Chinese immigrants have university degrees, 65 per cent of children of Indian parents, and 52 per cent of "other Asians".  Filipino immigrant children have a 40 per cent university completion rate.  Children of Caribbean, Portuguese, and Latin American-born parents come in just below Canadian-born.

These greater educational achievements lead to higher incomes as well.  Though some immigrants have language and adjustment obstacles to overcome, these disadvantages disappear with their children.  For example, the grandchildren of Chinese-born immigrants earn on average close to $80,000 a year.

"Family values of immigrants tend to emphasize education and because of that, their children have high aspirations," says Feng Hou, a Statistics Canada analyst.

The study also found that living in cities, where most new immigrants settle, also influences the perceived need for university education.  Additionally, the parents' level of education is a strongly correlated factor.

“In general, immigrants to Canada tend to have higher levels of education, partly because of the immigration selection process,” notes Hou.

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