Economic Outcomes 2018-11-27T15:45:13+00:00

Economic Outcomes

What information can we draw from the longitudinal immigration database (IMDb)?

The IMDB holds information about immigrants who became Permanent Residents (PR) of Canada from 1980 onward. Information included in the landing records (Immigrant Landing File, or ILF) is linked with the tax files (T1 Family Files) in subsequent years after arrival (starting in 1982) as well as the Non-Permanent Resident Files (NRF). Combining the information from these administrative records, the IMDB provides detailed socioeconomic and demographic information about immigrants at the time of landing and afterwards. It also allows us to draw upon some information about the pre-landing histories of migrants using temporary permits and economic activities after arrival.

There are several ways the IMDB can be used to study refugee children and youth:

  • Household economic situation
  • Transition of refugee children and youth into adulthood
  • Group comparisons (between landing categories)

For more details about the IMDb and the types of information that can be drawn from it, download the Info Sheet.

Download the Info Sheet

When do refugee children and youth start working?

The earlier a person enters the labour force usually means less time they have for studying, socializing, or participating in leisure activities as youth. At the same time, early entry into the labour force also means that youth achieve economic independence, potentially contribute to family income, and gain work experience.

Combining information from landing records of immigrants and their tax files in the Longitudinal Immigrant Database (IMDB), we can examine the economic outcomes of refugee and immigrant children and youth to Canada. In this report we use the IMDB 2014 to look at children and youth, between the ages of 0-17 at the time of landing between 1980 and 2000.

To read more about our findings, download the Fact Sheet.

Download the Fact Sheet

Age at First Earnings of Immigrant and Refugee Children and Youth (1980-2000 Cohort)


There were 738,925 children and youth in the data and by 2014, 96% of them reported employment income. Three quarters of immigrant and refugee children and youth earned their first employment income before they turned 20 years old.

When this is broken down to look at refugee children and youth and broken down to see the age at which they landed in Canada we see that those who land in Canada at a younger age start working at an earlier age as well.

Age of First Earnings of Refugee Children and Youth by Landing Age (1980-2000 Cohort)


83% of refugee children and youth that land in Canada between the ages of 0 and 5 years old work before they are 20 years old. For those landing between the ages of 6-12 it is 78% and for those who land as youth, between the ages of 12 and 17, it is 67%.

Age of First Earnings of Immigrant and Refugee Children and Youth by Landing Category (1980-2000 Cohort)


There are noticeable differences of when refugee and immigrant youth start working. 78% of those coming as Privately Sponsored worked before the age of 20, compared to 73% of those who come as asylum seekers (refugees landed in Canada).

When refugee children and youth are compared to other immigrant groups, their experiences are similar to those who come as dependants of Skilled Workers or those coming through Family pathways. Children and youth of Live in Care Workers have the greatest proportion of starting to work before the age of 20 and dependants of Business migrants have the smallest proportion.