December 5, 2005
Source: Ryerson University:
'Brain Gain' Of Skilled Chinese Immigrants Not Panning Out: Study
Despite having a university education, speaking fluent English and coming to Canada with a wealth of industry experience, Chinese immigrants are earning half as much as the general Canadian population - even after two decades, say university researchers.
There are several factors that impede immigrants from China from earning as much as their Canadian counterparts including length of residency in Canada and the lack of recognition of foreign education credentials by Canadian employers, says Professor Shuguang Wang, chair of the Department of Geography at Ryerson University and lead author of a study published in the journal International Migration.
"People need time to adjust to a new labour market, economy and society. Earlier studies have shown that it takes about 10 years for Chinese immigrants to catch up. Although their earnings increase with their length of stay in Canada, our study shows it will take more than 20 years for this group to close that wage gap," Wang says.
Wang and co-author Professor Lucia Lo of York University used immigrant landing records from 1980 to 2000 and tax data from 1999 to examine the demographic trends of Chinese immigrants from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam and their earnings in Canada. (The diaspora now makes up the largest ethnic group in Canada and accounts for 20 per cent of Canada's total immigration in-take.)
The researchers found that from the 1980s to1990s, the number of Chinese immigrants with bachelor degrees almost doubled to 15 per cent from eight per cent and those with a masters degree rose to five per cent from less than two per cent. Those who arrived in the 1990s were also was more proficient in English than those who came to Canada in the 1980s.
Chinese immigrants, however, on average, earned slightly under $15,000 in 1999 - half the annual earnings of the average Canadian. "Chinese immigrants often have the ability to do the job but lack the opportunity to demonstrate this," says Wang. "If the employer does not trust their educational background or skills, he or she simply does not hire them. Their mindset needs to be changed. The government also needs to put more resources into programs for foreign-trained professionals so they can achieve their full potential in Canada."
The study, Chinese Immigrants in Canada: Their Changing Composition and Economic Performance, was funded by the Joint Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement and by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. An electronic copy of the study is available upon request.
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