ARCHIVED – Immigrant income and the family

VI. Primary source(s) of income – Average income and contribution to family

While it is useful to know if there is one or more contributors of a certain income within a family, it is only part of the story when comparing the family income situations of immigrants and non-immigrants. It is also necessary to know how much an individual is reporting and what contribution they make within the family. After all, a family with a single earner contributing $50 000 to family employment earnings may be just as well off as a family with two earners each contributing $25 000 in employment earnings, all things being equal.

In this section two important pieces of information are reported for each of the primary income types discussed in the previous section. First, the average annual amount an individual reports is shown. Second, the average contribution to the family amount made by the individual is displayed. From these two pieces of information a measure of the average amount reported by the family can be calculated. For example, an individual reports average employment earnings of $20 000 and this contributes to 65 percent of his family employment earnings, (the additional contributors within his family are contributing the remaining 35 percent). The average family employment earnings for this family equal roughly $30 750 (the additional contributors in the family contribute roughly $10 750 to family employment earnings).

Individuals Less Than 60 Years of Age

Table 10 displays two pertinent pieces of information on employment earnings for immigrants and non-immigrants less than 60 years of age. Specifically, it shows average employment earnings and the share of family employment earnings that it accounts for. On average, non-immigrants report higher employment earnings than immigrants. In 2003, average employment earnings of immigrants ($28 856) fall short of the non-immigrant average by roughly $6 700. Additionally, immigrant employment earnings account for a larger share of family employment earnings compared to non-immigrants. As a result, the average family employment earnings of immigrants are lower than that of non-immigrants.

Although, on average, economic principal applicants have higher employment earnings than non-immigrants, those earnings make up a larger share of family employment earnings (75 percent in 2003). As a result, average family employment earnings for economic principal applicants also fall short of the non-immigrant family average. For economic spouses and dependents the story is somewhat different but the result is the same. The average employment earnings of economic spouses and dependents account for a smaller share of family employment earnings than non-immigrants; however, the average employment earnings they report are much lower than the non-immigrant average. Thus, their family earnings are also lower than that of non-immigrants. For family class and refugees, average employment earnings are even lower and the share of family earnings it accounts for is higher than the non-immigrant share. Consequently, average family employment earnings for these two categories are also below the average for non-immigrant families.

Table 10: Average Employment Earnings and Share of Family Employment Earnings, Individuals Less than 60 Years of Age by Immigrant Category, Selected Tax Years [ note 42]
  1985 1990 1995 2000 2003
Average Employment Earnings (2003 $)
Non-immigrants 31,094 32,188 32,630 35,560 35,574
Immigrants 22,595 23,936 24,253 28,645 28,856
Economic PA 37,022 36,033 37,238 42,566 41,098
Economic SD 16,627 18,234 18,974 22,118 22,759
Family Class 17,748 21,029 21,168 25,477 26,243
Refugees 19,380 21,247 22,590 26,098 26,140
Share of Family Employment Earnings (%)
Non-immigrants 66 64 65 63 61
Immigrants 69 69 69 66 65
Economic PA 82 78 77 76 75
Economic SD 45 49 52 51 51
Family Class 61 64 67 65 64
Refugee 74 73 74 69 68

Source: LAD, Statistics Canada

In 2003, Non-immigrants less than 60 years of age in all family types report significantly higher average employment earnings than immigrants except where the individual is defined as a child. Immigrant and non-immigrant children report employment earnings of $15 294 and $14 627, respectively, with the average earnings of immigrant children accounting for a slightly higher share of family earnings (36 percent) than for non-immigrant children (30 percent). Immigrant and non-immigrant married males report the highest employment earnings of all family types ($54 793 for non-immigrants and $39 389 for immigrants) and contribute to just under 70 percent of family employment earnings. Immigrant and non-immigrant married females report much lower average employment earnings ($30 703 for non-immigrants and $23 755 for immigrants) and contribute to less than half of family employment earnings. Lone-parents and unattached individuals in both populations have employment earnings equal to or slightly higher than that of married females. However, since unattached individuals have no additional contributors and only a small share of lone-parents do, average family employment earnings for these two family types fall short of that for married females.

It is important to note that the average employment earnings displayed in table 10 would be notably different if it was displayed by years since landing. Figure 6 illustrates the relationship between average employment earnings and years since landing. The relatively flatter line which fluctuates around the $20 000-mark represents the employment earnings of immigrants less than 60 years of age, one year after landing. The lines beginning from this line and increasing up and to the right, map the average employment earnings over time for immigrants of various landing cohorts. For more recently landed immigrants average employment earnings are much lower than that displayed in table 10. In fact, it takes approximately 10 years, on average, for an immigrant to reach the $28 856 in employment earnings displayed in table 10. Furthermore, the amount of family employment earnings that an immigrant accounts for is higher for more recently landed immigrants. As a result, the average family employment earnings for recently landed immigrants are also lower than those implied by table 10.

Figure 6: Average Employment Earnings (2003 $) for Immigrants Less Than 60 Years of Age by Landing Year, 1982-2003

Source: LAD, Statistics Canada

Figure 6: Average  Employment Earnings (2003 $) for Immigrants Less Than 60 Years of Age by  Landing Year, 1982-2003

Individuals 60 Years of Age or Older

Table 11 shows the average employment earnings and share of family employment earnings for immigrants and non-immigrants 60 years of age or older. As was the case for the younger population, immigrants aged 60 and older have lower average employment earnings than non-immigrants. This is once again true for all immigrant categories except economic principal applicants whose average employment earnings ($40 548 in 2003) are roughly $7 000 higher than the non-immigrant average. Economic principal applicants also contribute to a smaller share of family employment earnings than non-immigrants. Therefore, for economic principal applicants aged 60 or older, average family employment earnings are higher than the average family employment earnings of non-immigrants. Family class immigrants have the lowest average employment earnings ($15 682 in 2003) and this accounts for 75 percent of family employment earnings. As a result, family class immigrants also report the lowest average family employment earnings. 

Average employment earnings for immigrants aged 60 or older falls short of the non-immigrant average for all family types, especially married males. However, the relative earnings across family types are very similar for the two populations. Married males report the highest average employment earnings ($43 681 for non-immigrants and $28 314) and contribute to the largest share of family employment earnings. In contrast, married females report the lowest employment earnings ($21 831 for non-immigrants and $17 905 for immigrants) and contribute to a smaller share of family employment earnings. Unattached individuals report higher average employment earnings than married females but since they are sole-contributors the family employment earnings fall short of the average for married females. Lone-parents also report higher employment earnings than married females and a smaller share of sole-contributors. As a result, lone-parents have higher average family employment earnings than married females.

Table 11: Average Employment Earnings and Share of Family Employment Earnings, Individuals Aged 60 or Older by Immigrant Category, Selected Tax Years [ note 43]
  1985 1990 1995 2000 2003
Average Employment Earnings (2003 $)
Non-immigrants 29,744 31,682 29,136 32,883 33,641
Immigrants 14,719 17,538 19,242 23,371 24,310
Economic PA 34,140 33,394 45,035 43,597 40,548
Economic SD 10,250 15,354 23,769 23,884 25,112
Family Class 13,252 14,749 13,247 14,839 15,682
Refugees 14,091 20,081 26,692 34,138 28,687
Share of Family Employment Earnings (%)
Non-immigrants 80 77 78 77 76
Immigrants 74 71 73 72 72
Economic PA 87 76 74 70 70
Economic SD - 63 62 59 58
Family Class 72 70 73 74 74
Refugee 68 74 74 73 71

Source: LAD, Statistics Canada

Table 12 displays the average provincial supplements and the share of family provincial supplements of immigrants and non-immigrants. On average, immigrants report $500 more in provincial supplements than non-immigrants. Additionally, for immigrants, average provincial supplements account for a smaller share of family provincial supplements (88 percent compared to 93 percent for non-immigrants). This is expected since, as seen in the previous section, immigrants are more likely to have additional contributors to provincial supplements in the family relative to non-immigrants. This means that immigrants not only report more provincial supplements as individuals they also have a higher average reported by family members. As a result, family provincial supplements are roughly $750 higher for immigrants than non-immigrants as well.

Table 12: Average Provincial Supplements and Share of Family Provincial Supplements, Individuals Aged 60 or Older by Immigrant Category, Selected Tax Years [ note 44]
  1985 1990 1995 2000 2003
Average Provincial Supplements (2003 $)
Non-immigrants - - 3,052 2,803 2,998
Immigrants - - 6,082 4,449 3,529
Economic PA - - 6,762 4,978 4,060
Economic SD - - 6,392 4,509 3,116
Family Class - - 5,408 3,634 2,804
Refugees - - 8,897 7,935 6,479
Share of Family Provincial Supplements (%)
Non-immigrants - - 94 93 93
Immigrants - - 93 88 88
Economic PA - - 97 96 95
Economic SD - - - 92 91
Family Class - - 92 86 87
Refugee - - 91 91 90

Source: LAD, Statistics Canada

In 2003, refugees report average provincial supplements of nearly $6 500, the highest of all categories, and this accounts for 90 percent of family provincial supplements for this category. Family class immigrants, in contrast, report average provincial supplements slightly lower than the non-immigrant average. However, because this accounts for a lower share of family provincial supplements, average family provincial supplements are higher for family class immigrants than for non-immigrants. It is also important to recall that while 45 percent of family class immigrants report provincial supplements only 5 percent of non-immigrants do so.

For non-immigrants, average family provincial supplements are very similar for all family types. Married males, lone-parents, and unattached individuals report average provincial supplements equal to roughly $3 050. For unattached individuals this equals the average family provincial supplements since there are no additional contributors in the family. For married males and lone-parents this represents 85 percent of family provincial supplements; making the average family provincial supplements for these two groups the highest of all family types at approximately $3 600. Married females are a close second, reporting a lower average of $2 386 but accounting for a smaller share (72 percent) of the family average. As a result, married females report average family provincial supplements equal to $3 300.

For immigrants, it is married males who report the highest average provincial supplements ($4 849 in 2003) followed by lone-parents ($3 759) and unattached individuals ($3 090). Similar to that seen for non-immigrants, married female immigrants report the lowest average provincial supplements ($2 242) but contribute the lowest share to family provincial supplements. Consequently, average family provincial supplements for married females ($3 600) are similar to that of lone-parents and unattached individuals.

The top half of table 13 illustrates the average C/QPP and the share contributed to the family for immigrants and non-immigrants aged 60 or over. Non-immigrants clearly report higher average C/QPP benefits than immigrants in any category. As noted earlier this is expected since non-immigrants have a longer period to potentially contribute to the plan. Of the immigrant categories, economic principal applicants have the highest average C/QPP and are tied with economic spouses and dependents for the highest average family C/QPP. In contrast, family class immigrants report the lowest average benefits and average family benefits.

Non-immigrants report significantly higher average C/QPP than immigrants in all family types. Married males report the highest average C/QPP for immigrants ($1 673) and non-immigrants ($6 547) and contribute more than three-quarters of family C/QPP benefits. Non-immigrant lone-parents and unattached non-immigrants report average C/QPP of approximately $5 600 and their respective immigrant counterparts report C/QPP equal to roughly $1 500. Married females report the lowest average C/QPP benefits ($ 4267 for non-immigrants and $1 134 for immigrants). However, they contribute a significantly smaller share of family benefits and, as a result, have higher average family C/QPP benefits than immigrants in any other family type.

The bottom half of table 13 shows the average private pension income and share of family private pension for immigrants and non-immigrants. Non-immigrants report higher average private pension than all immigrant categories except economic principal applicants. In 2003, economic principal applicants report private pension income of nearly $16 000; this accounts for 89 percent of family private pension income, a higher share than non-immigrants. As a result, the average family private pension income of non-immigrants is equal to that of economic principal applicants. Economic spouses and dependents have lower average private pensions but since they contribute to a lower share of family private pension income, they have the second highest family pension income of all immigrant categories. They are; however, followed closely by family class immigrants. Refugees report the lowest average private pensions ($4 650 in 2003) and this accounts for 90 percent of family private pension, making refugees the category with the lowest average family private pensions.

Table 13: Average C/QPP and Private Pension and Share of Family C/QPP and Private Pension, Individuals Aged 60 or Older by Immigrant Category, Selected Tax Years [ note 45]
  1985 1990 1995 2000 2003
Average C/QPP (2003 $)
Non-immigrants 5,013 5,391 5,723 5,664 5,642
Immigrants 1,101 1,352 1,542 1,455 1,474
Economic PA - 1,847 2,291 2,178 2,303
Economic SD - 933 1,704 1,805 1,748
Family Class 1,027 1,296 1,404 1,230 1,166
Refugees - 1,018 1,820 1,909 1,937
Share of Family C/QPP (%)
Non-immigrants 90 86 81 78 77
Immigrants 98 91 85 82 80
Economic PA - - 93 89 87
Economic SD - - 75 70 67
Family Class 98 91 84 80 79
Refugee - - 93 87 85
Average Private Pensions (2003 $)
Non-immigrants 12,091 11,692 12,815 14,216 14,665
Immigrants 12,548 12,817 13,709 13,680 12,596
Economic PA - 11,774 15,012 16,952 15,907
Economic SD - 23,020 7,209 9,010 9,331
Family Class 10,017 10,181 10,941 11,064 10,572
Refugees - - 3,846 4,753 4,649
Share of Family Private Pensions (%)
Non-immigrants 92 90 86 83 82
Immigrants 90 89 86 84 83
Economic PA - - 95 89 89
Economic SD - - 99 69 68
Family Class 86 89 86 84 82
Refugee - - - - 90

Source: LAD, Statistics Canada

The results for private pension income by family type are very similar to that seen for C/QPP benefits. Immigrant and non-immigrant married males have the highest average private pensions ($18 686 and $15 408, respectively) and contribute the largest share (85 percent) of family private pension. Immigrant and non-immigrant married females have lower than average private pension income; equal to roughly half of the amount reported by married males. This, however, accounts for only 50 percent or less of family private pension and, thus, the average family private pension for married females is a close second to that of males. For immigrants and non immigrants, unattached individuals report higher private pension than married females but since they are sole-contributors in the family their average private pension equals the family average private pension. As a result, unattached individuals report the second lowest average family private pension and lone-parents report the lowest.

The top half of table 14 shows the average OAS benefits and the share of family OAS that immigrants and non-immigrants are reporting. Non-immigrants report higher average OAS benefits than all immigrant categories as expected given that they have more years of Canadian residency. Of the immigrant population, the economic categories report the highest average OAS benefits and average family benefits. With respect to family types, immigrants and non-immigrants once again show very similar reporting patterns. Average OAS benefits are almost equal across all family types for non-immigrants ($5 200) and for immigrants ($1 600). The shares contributed to family OAS benefits are the same for immigrants and non-immigrants as well, with married males contributing 65 percent and married females approximately 53 percent.

The bottom half of table 14 shows the average GIS/Allowance for immigrants and non-immigrants and the share of family GIS/Allowance that it accounts for. Opposite of what was observed for OAS benefits, immigrants report higher GIS/Allowance than non-immigrants. Even economic principal applicants, who have the lowest average GIS/Allowance of all immigrants, report an average amount that is near double that of non-immigrants. Family class and refugees report the highest average GIS/Allowance ($8 327) and have the lowest share contributed to family GIS/Allowance. Consequently, it is family class immigrants and refugees who have the highest average family GIS/Allowance.

Table 14: Average OAS and GIS/Allowance and Share of Family OAS and GIS/Allowance, Individuals Aged 60 or Older by Immigrant Category, Selected Tax Years [ note 46]
  1985 1990 1995 2000 2003
Average OAS (2003 $) 
Non-immigrants 5,161 5,141 5,218 5,189 5,202
Immigrants 3,342 1,711 1,651 1,708 1,661
Economic PA - 2,169 2,028 2,008 2,068
Economic SD - 629 1,984 2,072 2,012
Family Class 3,398 1,545 1,565 1,642 1,560
Refugees - 929 1,567 1,718 1,817
Share of Family OAS (%)
Non-immigrants 86 85 77 77 76
Immigrants 91 92 81 80 78
Economic PA - 99 89 87 84
Economic SD - - 86 74 73
Family Class 86 91 79 78 77
Refugee - - 89 88 83
Average GIS/Allowance (2003 $)
Non-immigrants - - 3,646 3,480 3,301
Immigrants - - 8,127 8,040 8,053
Economic PA - - 7,313 7,029 6,998
Economic SD - - 6,009 5,981 6,128
Family Class - - 8,291 8,267 8,327
Refugees - - 8,859 8,257 8,327
Share of Family GIS (%)
Non-immigrants - - 88 83 82
Immigrants - - 83 78 77
Economic PA - - 91 84 81
Economic SD - - 70 64 63
Family Class - - 82 78 77
Refugee - - 85 81 79

Source: LAD, Statistics Canada

For all family types, immigrants report an average GIS/Allowance that is more than double that of the non-immigrants. For immigrants and non-immigrants lone-parents and unattached individuals report the highest average GIS/Allowance; over $9 000 for immigrants and approximately $4 000 for non-immigrants. Married males and females in both populations report lower averages; roughly $7 000 for immigrants and $2 500 for non-immigrants. For non-immigrants, average family GIS/Allowance is relatively the same for all family types. For immigrants, however, some variation occurs across family types. Married immigrants contribute a smaller share of family GIS/Allowance (61 percent for males and 53 percent for females) and, therefore, have higher family GIS/Allowance than immigrant lone-parents and unattached immigrants.

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42  Table A11 in the appendix displays similar information for individuals reporting employment earnings by family type.

43  Table A12 in the appendix displays similar information for individuals reporting employment earnings by family type.

44  Table A13 in the appendix displays similar information for individuals reporting provincial supplements by family type.

45  Table A14 in the appendix displays similar information for individuals reporting C/QPP and private pension by family type.

46  Table A15 in the appendix displays similar information for individuals reporting OAS and GIS/Allowance by family type.

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