City Research Online

Essays on labour migration in Canada

Al-Sabah, K. (2018). Essays on labour migration in Canada. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The immigration literature generally concludes that the assimilation of immigrants mainly depends on individual characteristics of the person. Following Hatton and Leigh (2011), we study whether immigrants assimilate as communities, not only as individuals. Using the 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2006 Canadian Census data, the relationship between the assimilation of immigrants and the past stock of given ethnic origin groups are studied. Alongside the past stock, other group-level variables are used. The results suggest that a large number of immigrants from a given origin group depress the relative hours worked whilst a history of past immigration raises the relative hourly wages. Thus, the history of the individual’s ethnic group in the host country matters in the assimilation process. In addition, the years since migration of a given origin group raises both the relative annual earnings and hourly wages.

In chapter two, using data from the Canadian censuses of 2001 and 2006, the role of the migrant’s community in their time choices compared to native Canadians is studied. A Tobit regression in which the dependent variables are, the number of hours per week spent on childcare, housework and looking after the elderly, is estimated. The results show that immigrants spend less time on these three activities compared to natives and there is evidence to suggest that the migrant’s community positively aids in the assimilation process of nonmarket activities.

The province of Quebec in Canada has two official languages, English and French, with French being the majority-spoken language. Similarly, the Montreal metropolitan area in Quebec has a majority of native French speakers but also a significant proportion of native English speakers and allophone immigrants. Using the 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011 Canadian Census data, the paper Payoff to official language knowledge in Quebec studies the wage premium associated to having knowledge of an official language(s) that is different from one’s mother tongue and whether it pays for one to learn a second official language given that communication can already take place with a different mother tongue language group (network externality). The results suggest that for the English mother tongue group, there is a positive payoff associated to having knowledge of French in Quebec and Montreal, while having knowledge of the English language for Francophone individuals only pays in Quebec but not in Montreal. For the allophone immigrants, there is a positive payoff to having knowledge of French only, higher than having knowledge of English only. However, having knowledge of both official languages pays more than knowing just one. Finally, evidence is found in Francophone individuals to support the network externality hypothesis.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Policy & Global Affairs > Economics
School of Policy & Global Affairs > School of Policy & Global Affairs Doctoral Theses
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