Educational Selectivity of Out-migration in Canada: 1976-1981 to 1996-2001

  • Bali Ram Demography Division, Statistics Canada, Ottawa Ontario
  • Y. E. Shin Demography Division, Statistics Canada, Ottawa Ontario


The major objective of this paper is to show that migrants are positively selected whether they are driven by economic factors or by non-economic factors, and whether they are motivated by pull factors or push factors. Using “five-year migration data” from the 1981 to 2001 censuses of Canada, we find that the education gradient of out-migration is apparent in every region, with the highly educated being more mobile than the less educated. However, the pattern is most pronounced in the Atlantic region, Quebec, and Manitoba/Saskatchewan, the regions experiencing poorer economic conditions and persistent net losses through migration. The three high-income provinces, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia not only experience lower overall net losses, but are also less likely to lose their better educated persons—even during bad economic times. Quebec emerges as a special case where economic as well as linguistic-political factors play an important role in governing the out-migration patterns of the better educated, particularly those belonging to the non-Francophone group.