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Study: Changing immigrant characteristics and entry earnings

Released: 2016-02-17

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, rising levels of educational attainment and the increasing prevalence of pre-landing Canadian work experience positively affected the earnings of newly landed immigrants.

The new study, "Changing Immigrant Characteristics and Entry Earnings," examines entry earnings—defined as annual earnings during the first two full calendar years after landing—of new immigrants aged 20 to 54.

In the 1990s, educational attainment among new immigrants increased significantly. For example, while about one-quarter of male immigrants who landed in 1988 had a university degree, this was the case for over one-half of those who landed in 1999. Among female immigrants who landed in 1988, 18% had a university degree. By 1999, that proportion had risen to 42%.

Higher levels of educational attainment, in turn, were associated with an increase of $2,400 (in 2011 constant dollars) in the average annual entry earnings of men in the 1999 cohort compared with the 1988 cohort. Among women, higher levels of educational attainment were associated with an increase of $1,300 in average annual entry earnings between the 1988 and 1999 cohorts.

In the 2000s, a growing share of new immigrants had some Canadian work experience prior to landing. For example, while 16% of male immigrants in the 1999 cohort had pre-landing work experience in Canada, this was the case for 29% of men in the 2010 cohort. Among women, 15% of new immigrants from the 1999 cohort had Canadian work experience, compared with 31% of women in the 2010 cohort. Greater prevalence of pre-landing Canadian work experience was associated with an increase in average annual entry earnings of $4,600 (in 2011 constant dollars) for men and $2,800 for women between the 1999 and 2010 cohorts.

However, while increasing educational attainment in the 1990s and greater prevalence of pre-landing Canadian work experience in the 2000s increased entry earnings, other less well understood factors reduced earnings over the same period. This combination of factors resulted in immigrant entry earnings that were relatively constant throughout the 1990s and 2000s, excluding fluctuations associated with the business cycle.


The research paper "Changing Immigrant Characteristics and Entry Earnings," which is part of the Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series (Catalogue number11F0019M), is now available from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Feng Hou (613-608-4932;, Social Analysis and Modelling Division.

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