Social Structures and the Occupational Composition of Skilled Worker Immigrants to Canada

Heather Dryburgh


The individual decision to immigrate is made in the context of larger social
structures that influence the composition of the economic immigrant population over time. Over the last 20 years, economic immigrants to Canada have faced changing selection policies, cycles of economic recession and growth, increased demand for information technology skills, women’s increased labour force participation and an aging labour force. Using data from Statistics Canada’s Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB), this paper examines the flow of economic immigrants to Canada by their occupational composition from 1980 to 2000. Relative to Canadians, when all immigrants from this period are grouped together, their economic integration is slow and does not reach parity with Canadians before 16 years. Among skilled worker immigrants, whereas the earlier cohorts did well but did not improve much over time, later cohorts started off in a relatively worse position, but early indications show a fairly steep slope to better relative average earnings. These differences support the need to examine immigrant integration by both the class of immigrant and the context at the time of immigration.

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Canadian Studies in Population | E-ISSN 1927-629X

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