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Immigrants play the largest role in Canada’s status as one of best-educated nation

A new study showed that immigrants and not born Canadians are responsible for the country’s huge education score. In fact, it seems that 36 percent of children from immigrant families are educated to at least university level and have obtained their degrees, while only 24 percent of their peers with Canadian-born parents could say the same.

Immigrants Play The Largest Role In Canada’S Status As One Of Best Educated Nation (1)

Canada’s Immigration Department report on education shows that the country owes its status as one of the best-educated nations to the work of their migrant population.


Migrants are mostly invited to apply for visa’s based on a number of criteria – one of which is that they hold a university degree – which automatically means that migrants are more likely to be well educated than not as they enter the country. Research also showed that migrants, who worked hard for their spot in Canada, appreciated the opportunity and expect their children to work hard and use the opportunity they have been given to get a degree.

“The educational attainment of the parent's matters; children with highly educated parents are more likely to be highly educated themselves. And immigrant parents in Canada tend to have higher levels of educational attainment than Canadian-born parents,” said the report by researcher Garnett Picot for the department’s research and evaluation unit.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranked Canada second only to Korea as the highest educated nation in the world in 2016, with over 60 percent of Canadians with a post-secondary education.

An Immigration Canada spokesperson said Picot’s study was part of the government’s attempt to monitor the long-term performance of immigration policies and programs by looking at how the children of immigrants are doing in terms of their educational and economic outcomes.

Interestingly between 2011 and 2016 at least 54.2 percent of new immigrants in the prime working age of between 35 and 44 years old who landed on Canadian shore held at least a bachelor’s degree. By comparison, only 27.9 percent of non-immigrants have the same level of education.

“Canada is the most university-educated country on the planet and apparently immigrants and in particular those arriving here since the beginning of the 21st century are contributing to this,” said Jack Jedwab, who teaches sociology and public affairs at Concordia University.

“Long gone are the days when someone can say those immigrants lack education. Though first-generation visible minority immigrants don’t do as well as first-generation white immigrants, their children are doing much better.”

University of Toronto sociology professor Monica Boyd said the aspirations of immigrant parents can be incredibly powerful in steering their children to success, especially if they are themselves highly educated but struggle to return to their old professions and make ends meet after coming to Canada.

“The pressure becomes more on the child because (the parents) did the move for them and want them to succeed,” said Boyd, the Canadian research chair in immigration, inequality and public policy, and co-author of a recent study on educational and labour market attainment among children of East Asian parents in the American Behavioral Scientist journal.


It seems that, overall, the children of immigrants are doing as well or better as adults in the labour market than their peers of Canadian-born parents because of they have higher educational attainment and are more likely to be in professional occupations than in blue collar jobs.

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