Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Changing Immigrant Characteristics and Pre-Landing Canadian Earnings: Their Effect on Entry Earnings over the 1990s and 2000s

Document type Article
Author Hou, Feng
Author Picot, Garnett
Journal Canadian Public Policy
Volume 42
Date 2016 September
ISSN 0317-0861, 1911-9917
Pages 308-323


During the 1990s and 2000s, the characteristics of new immigrants to Canada changed significantly across several dimensions, including education, admission class, source region, and pre-landing Canadian work experience, owing at least partly to changes in immigration selection policies. This article examines whether these changes affected earnings trends among immigrants. Among all new immigrants and economic principal applicants, aside from cyclical fluctuations, entry earnings changed little over the 1990s and 2000s. This stability was the result of competing influences, some that tended to increase earnings and some that tended to reduce them. The key changes in immigrant characteristics that put upward pressure on entry earnings were the rising educational attainment in the 1990s and a large increase in the share of immigrants with high pre-landing Canadian earnings during the 2000s. The latter characteristic also accounted for the earnings advantage of provincial nominees over skilled worker immigrants. The policy implications of the results are discussed.