Ongoing Project:

Family Contexts of Migrant Children: Language and Other
 Socioeconomic Inequalities

Researchers: Monica Boyd and Lei Chai
Affiliation: University of Toronto
Keywords: migrant children and families, language development, socioeconomic inequalities, housing, integration


Objective: This study explores the current family and household context of migrant children in Canada to better understand language use among migrant children.

Justification: Research shows that children of immigrants frequently reside in households that are linguistically isolated, defined as households where no person age fourteen or older is using a destination country language; a Canadian study showed that, compared to children in native-born families, children of immigrants were more likely to have more siblings, live in larger households, live in overcrowded accommodations and in rental houses, and live in poverty. These factors can impact family stress, cognitive and emotional development, school performance, and even jobs and earnings.

Practical goal: This study will provide descriptive data to help identify groups that may be at risk for stressors that impede cognitive development and school progression and performance.

Primary audience: Service providers, educators, and academics


This project uses the 2016 population census to construct family files, thereby making both individuals and their families the focus of analysis. This approach moves away from a sole focus on individuals and instead embeds children within the contexts of their families.           

This study has two guiding research questions. First, at a descriptive level, what currently are the family contexts for young children of migrants (age 0-12) in 2016? Are certain racial or origin groups more likely than other groups to have multiple family characteristics that could indicate stressors?  And, using new information previously not available, what variations exist by entry class for children of migrants? Second, what are the predictors of linguistic isolation in the home; here linguistically isolated families are the unit of analysis and other family characteristics and immigration characteristics are used as predictors. Additionally, what determines if young children are speaking English and/or French in the home? This question focuses on the language use of migrant children in the household context. For the second set of questions, the project will use multivariate approaches that examine the associations between other family-related factors and linguistic isolation and language use.

Explore more projects

Go to Top