The Intergenerational Economic Incorporation of European Immigrants in Canada, 1970-2000: Is Straight-Line Assimilation Uniform by Ethnicity?

Melissa Moyser, University of Toronto
Monica Boyd, University of Toronto

In this paper, we consider the intergenerational economic incorporation of European immigrants in Canada, keeping an eye on ethnicity. Specifically, we examine ethnic differences in (1) the annual earnings of the first generation, relative to those of the mainstream; (2) the shift in relative annual earnings between the first and second generations; and (3) their determinants. Data from the 1971 and 2001 Censuses are analyzed by means of a “lagged generation model,” enabling us to study this longitudinal process from cross-sectional data. Our results challenge the notion that straight-line assimilation characterizes European-origin groups uniformly. Typically, the second generation experiences upward mobility in relative annual earnings over the first generation, consistent with straight-line assimilation. However, the magnitude and mechanisms of intergenerational economic incorporation depend on ethnicity. For some European-origin groups, generational succession does not produce upward mobility in relative annual earnings, meaning that “bumpy-line assimilation” may characterize their intergenerational economic incorporation.

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Presented in Session 93: Assimilation and Social Mobility