CYRRC

Economic Trajectories of Refugee Children into Adulthood

Researchers: Yoko Yoshida1, Jonathan Amoyaw2, and Rachel McLay1
Affiliation: Dalhousie University1 and the University of Saskatchewan2
Keywords: children and youth refugees and immigrants, family class, economic class, Poland, Vietnam, Canada, economic trajectories, adulthood, gender, landing category, employment rate, earnings, IMDB
Go To: Findings, Graphs

Summary

Children and youth represent the majority of the refugee population in Canada. Many of them will spend most of their lives in Canada and will form families here. How well refugee children and youth adapt to the host society is, therefore, a matter of great concern not only for refugees themselves but also for the host society. The economic adaptation of immigrants and their children is vital for their successful settlement and well-being in Canada. While the number of research studies examining the economic outcomes of refugees is growing, it tends to focus on the adult population, leaving gaps in our understanding of the economic activities of refugee children and youth, particularly their long-term trajectories throughout adulthood. Against this backdrop, this study aims to shed light on the long-term economic outcomes of refugee children and youth.

Using the Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB) and focusing on newcomer children and youth from Poland and Vietnam, two major source countries of refugee youth in the 1980s and 90s, this study will examine whether the economic trajectories of refugee children and youth are unique compared to those of other newcomer children. The study also considers how other factors, such as gender and source country, affect the outcomes of refugee children and youth.

Findings

  • Differences between landing categories can affect employment rates at various points across the life course for childhood immigrants, and government-assisted refugees (GARs) may be particularly disadvantaged compared to other groups. But source country and gender also play an important role in the employment outcomes of childhood immigrants and refugees.

  • Childhood immigrants’ landing category makes a difference in their earnings throughout adulthood. In the Vietnamese group, children of skilled worker immigrants have higher earning trajectories compared to those in the family class and those who arrived as refugees; those who arrived as refugees had the lowest earnings trajectories. In the Polish group, however, childhood refugees tend to increase their earnings in their 40s, while earnings among children of other immigrant parents begin to level off in middle age.

  • The earnings trajectories among refugees are quite different between Vietnamese and Polish groups. For Vietnamese refugees, the predicted average earnings at 25 years old are around $21,600 for GARs and $23,400 for privately sponsored refugees (PSRs), and these gradually increase to around $40,000 for both groups at age 40. Polish refugee children, on the other hand, have higher earnings at 25 years old (about $27,500 for both GARs and PSRs), and these earnings continue to increase substantially throughout their 40s, reaching $67,200 for GARs and $73,500 for PSRs.

    • The differences in economic outcomes between refugees from Vietnam and Poland may signal the negative effects of racialization processes in Canada, but it could also be explained by differences in the socioeconomic backgrounds of refugee families between the two countries, the context of their departure and immigration experiences, as well as the existence and support of ethnic communities in the country.

    • Although refugees are admitted on humanitarian grounds, our findings also suggest that they are generally not an economic burden. With the necessary support, they can contribute to Canada’s economy much like other immigrants over time.

Graphs

Figures 1 & 2: Employment rates for Vietnamese immigrants by landing category: Men and Women

Figures 3 & 4: Employment rates for Polish immigrants by landing category: Men and Women

Figure 5 & 6: Mean employment incomes for Vietnamese immigrants by landing category: Men and Women

Figure 7 & 8: Mean employment incomes for Polish immigrants by landing category: Men and Women

Figure 9 & 10: Mean employment incomes for Vietnamese and Polish immigrants by landing category

  • Fig. 1-2
  • Fig. 3-4
  • Fig. 5-6
  • Fig. 7-8
  • Fig. 9-10

Figures 1 & 2: Employment rates for Vietnamese immigrants by landing category: Men and Women

Figures 3 & 4: Employment rates for Polish immigrants by landing category: Men and Women

Figures 5-6:  Mean employment incomes for Vietnamese immigrants by landing category: Men and Women

Figures 7-8: Mean employment incomes for Polish immigrants by landing category: Men and Women

Figures 9 & 10: Mean employment incomes for Vietnamese and Polish immigrants by landing category

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