CYRRC

When do refugee children and youth start working?

Researchers: Yoko Yoshida1 and Jonathan Amoyaw2
Affiliation: Dalhousie University1 and the University of Saskatchewan2
Keywords: refugee youth, Canada, employment, labour market, IMDB, admission category

Summary

Early entry into the labour force usually means youth have less time to study, socialize, or participate in leisure activities. At the same time, early entry into the labour force can mean 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 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 who were between the ages of 0-17 at the time of landing between 1980 and 2000.

Graphs

Figure 1: Age at First Earnings of Immigrant and Refugee Children and Youth (1980-2000 Cohort)

Figure 2: Age of First Earnings of Refugee Children and Youth by Landing Age (1980-2000 Cohort)

Figure 3: Age of First Earnings of Immigrant and Refugee Children and Youth by Landing Category (1980-2000 Cohort)

  • Fig. 1
  • Fig. 2
  • Fig. 3

Figure 1: 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.

Figure 2: 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%.
Figure 3: 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.

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