Wage Gap Between Immigrants and Native-born Persists After 20 Years in Canada


Statistics Canada study shows that while the wage gap between immigrants and native-born Canadians did narrow over 20 years, significant differences remained.

By Bonnie Mah, Maytree

new study from Statistics Canada followed a cohort of young immigrants and native-born Canadians from 1991-2010 to examine the differences in their earnings. Each group was composed of men and women aged 25-34. The immigrant group was made up of recent immigrants who had arrived in Canada from 1985-1990.

Overall, the study found that while the wage gap between immigrants and native-born Canadians did narrow over 20 years, significant differences remained:

  • In 2010, immigrant men earned 86% of what native-born men did, compared to 76% in 1991.
  • Average annual wages and salaries of immigrant women were 93% of those of native-born women in 2010, up from 78% in 1991.

For immigrant men, education levels made a difference – but not for immigrant women:

  • Immigrant men with lower education levels earned 78% of what their native-born peers did, compared to 93% for immigrant men with higher education levels.
  • Immigrant women, on the other hand earned roughly 95% of what their native-born peers did, regardless of education level.

The study also found that immigrants were more likely to change employers during this 20 year period:

  • Immigrant men and immigrant women had more employers (4.8 and 5 employers, respectively) during this twenty-year period than native-born men and women (4.4 and 4.3, respectively). This might be because immigrants were more likely to work for SMEs, and turnover in SMEs tends to be higher than in larger firms.
  • Worker mobility was correlated with cumulative earnings – workers who had only one employer earned more than those who had five employers during this period.

Read the full report “Twenty Years in the Careers of Immigrant and Native-born Workers.

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