Earnings differences between immigrants and the Canadian-born – The role of literacy skills (2009)

Education Matters: Insights on Education, Learning and Training in Canada, March 2009, Vol 5 No. 5

This Statistics Canada article looks at why immigrants typically earn less than Canadian-born workers with the same amount of education and work experience. The authors use data from the Canadian component of the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS) to measure the literacy skills of immigrants and the Canadian-born, and to relate these to earnings outcomes.

Based on their analysis, they conclude that the literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills of immigrants differ from those of the Canadian-born. The skills distribution is higher for the Canadian-born than it is for immigrants, with the differences in measured skills partly reflecting proficiency in either English or French.

As well, they note that there are substantial differences in outcomes for immigrants who obtained their education prior to arrival in Canada, compared to those who obtained some or all of their education in Canada. Foreign-educated immigrants had much lower average skill levels, and earnings, than immigrants with Canadian education.

There is no evidence that immigrants receive lower returns to the types of skills measured in the IALSS than otherwise equivalent Canadian-born workers, suggesting that differences in earnings are not caused by discrimination.

The authors point out that taking literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills into account does not affect the patterns of returns to foreign- and Canadian-acquired work experience. Analysis of the IALSS data indicates that returns in the Canadian labour market to foreign work experience are very low, and, quite possibly, zero. It is work experience in Canada that counts toward earnings growth.

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Added: 
2013-06-05
APA citation
Statistics Canada. Earnings differences between immigrants and the Canadian-born – The role of literacy skills 2009. Web. 29 Sep. 2020 <http://en.copian.ca/library/research/stats/earnings_differences/earnings_differences.pdf>
Statistics Canada (2009). Earnings differences between immigrants and the Canadian-born – The role of literacy skills. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from http://en.copian.ca/library/research/stats/earnings_differences/earnings_differences.pdf
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