Recent Immigrants in Metropolitan Areas: Calgary—A Comparative Profile Based on the 2001 Census
Part B: Who Are the Recent Immigrants?
Origin, immigration category and religion
Asian countries of birth are predominant
Calgary’s immigrants come from all over the world and represent a diversity of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Over the past several decades there has been a considerable change in the source countries of immigrants. In 2001, for example, there were 36,400 residents of Calgary who landed in Canada between 1996 and 2001. The most common country of birth for these immigrants was China, accounting for 11% of these new permanent residents to Canada (15% if persons born in Hong Kong are included), followed by India, which supplied 10%. The ten most common countries of birth—China, India, the Philippines, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, South Korea, the United States, Hong Kong, Afghanistan and the Russian Federation—accounted for 57% of very recent immigrants to Calgary.
|2||China, People’s Republic of||14,760||7%|
|Top ten countries||117,240||59%|
|All other countries||80,170||41%|
|Immigrated before 1986|
|5||China, People’s Republic of||5,840||6%|
|Top ten countries||67,130||64%|
|All other countries||38,350||36%|
|4||China, People’s Republic of||4,850||9%|
|Top ten countries||35,760||64%|
|All other countries||19,790||36%|
|1||China, People’s Republic of||4,070||11%|
|Top ten countries||20,600||57%|
|All other countries||15,790||43%|
Among Calgary’s earlier immigrants—those arriving in Canada before 1986—the United Kingdom and the United States were the most common countries of birth, accounting for 26% of this group.
In general, the birth origins of Calgary’s immigrant population vary in relation to the period of immigration. European birth origins are predominant among those who immigrated in the 1950s, the 1960s and, to a lesser extent, the 1970s, and Asian birth origins are predominant among those who immigrated in the 1980s and 1990s. Seven of the top ten countries of birth of very recent immigrants are in Asia, and for immigrants who landed before 1986, five of the top ten countries of birth are in Asia.
Calgary’s share of Canada’s recent immigrants varies by country of birth
For some immigrant groups, Calgary is a preferred destination. For example, of the 11,100 Fiji-born individuals who immigrated since 1986 and were living in Canada in 2001, 900 or 8.1% were living in Calgary. Calgary is also home to a large share of recent immigrants from Vietnam, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United Kingdom. On average, 3.7% of recent immigrants chose Calgary as their place of residence. Calgary is home to approximately the same share of all immigrants and a somewhat smaller share of the Canadian-born population of Canada.
|Country of Birth||Total recent
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||23,200||6.5%|
|South Africa, Republic of||19,900||6.0%|
|China, People’s Republic of||236,900||3.8%|
|All recent immigrants||2,491,900||3.7%|
|Trinidad and Tobago||28,800||1.3%|
Note: Table B-2 lists all countries that are the place of birth of at least 10,000 recent immigrants living in Canada in 2001, with Calgary’s share being 1% or more.
High share of economic immigrants among very recent landings
Statistics published by Citizenship and Immigration Canada show that the number of immigrants who reported Calgary as their destination when they landed in Canada increased by 8,600 between the second half of the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s and decreased by 3,300 in the second half of the 1990s. The decline was concentrated in the family and refugee classes, whereas the number of economic immigrants increased. Three-fifths of very recent immigrants destined for Calgary entered through the economic category.
Within the family class, the number of spouses increased slightly over the three five-year periods and now amounts to more than one-half of this category. The number of other relatives—parents and grandparents, sons and daughters, fiancés—fell sharply from about 10,900 during the 1991-1995 period to 4,700 during the 1996-2000 period.
As for refugees, both government-assisted and privately-sponsored refugees declined in number. More than three thousand government-sponsored refugees went to Calgary during the 1986-1990 period, and only one-half of that number in each of the following two periods. Five hundred privately-sponsored refugees entered in the second half of the 1990s, a small fraction of the 2,800 who entered in the second half of the 1980s. The other refugee categories, refugees landed in Canada and refugee dependants, increased from negligible amounts to about the same level as privately-sponsored refugees.
Skilled workers and their dependants account for the lion’s share of economic immigrants, and the flow of these new entrants destined for Calgary increased steadily throughout the 15-year period 1986-2000.
Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Facts and Figures 2002 (data set).
Note: The 2001 Census did not ask immigrants about the immigration categories through which they were admitted to Canada. The information in Table B-3 was obtained from records at Citizenship and Immigration Canada and pertains to the time of landing. Immigration categories are described in the Glossary.
Religions changing with countries of origin
While nearly one in two very recent immigrants is a Christian, Muslims and Sikhs account for larger shares among recent immigrants than among earlier immigrants. Buddhists and Hindus combined make up 7% of very recent immigrants, the same share as among earlier immigrants. Among the Canadian-born, none of these four religions claims the affiliation of more than 1% of the population.
One in four Canadian-born are Roman Catholic, whereas over 20% of recent immigrants are of the Roman Catholic faith. The share of very recent immigrants who are Roman Catholics has decreased by 7% compared to those who immigrated before 1986, and that of Protestants fell by more than one-half to 12%.
|Immigrants||Immigrated before 1986||Immigrated 1986-1995||Immigrated 1996-2001|
Note: Religions are listed in order of their share of the population of Canada, from highest to lowest, with Christian religions grouped together.
Age and gender
Nearly one-half of very recent immigrants are working-age adults 25 to 44
The age distribution of the very recent immigrant population (those landing between 1996 and 2001) is markedly different from that of the Canadian-born population in Calgary, with a larger proportion of persons aged 25 to 44 and proportionally fewer adults 45 years of age and over. In 2001, nearly one-half of Calgary’s very recent immigrant population were between the ages of 25 and 44, compared to one-third of the Canadian-born. Adults aged 45 and over accounted for 17% of the very recent immigrant population compared with 27% for the Canadian-born. One-fifth of Calgary’s very recent immigrants were children under 15 years of age.
|15 to 24
|25 to 44
|45 to 64
|Immigrated before 1986||0||1,480||14,550||23,870||13,070||52,960|
|Immigrated before 1986||0||1,520||15,030||24,670||11,290||52,510|
|Immigrated before 1986||0||3,000||29,580||48,530||24,360||105,480|
|Immigrated before 1986||0%||3%||28%||46%||23%||100%|
These differences in age structure are to some degree a result of how we define immigrants and the Canadian-born. The immigrant population grows older like the Canadian population but does not renew itself in the same way, as children born in Canada to immigrants are not considered immigrants. Thus, there are no persons under 15 years of age among immigrants who landed before 1986, and the older age groups are over-represented among these earlier immigrants. By the same token, the share of children among the Canadian-born is large as it includes children born in Canada to immigrant parents.
The age structure of very recent immigrants closely resembles age at landing. Immigrants tend to arrive in Canada during their prime working-age years. This was the case among immigrants who landed more than 30 years ago, and it is still the case today. It is therefore not surprising that a large share of very recent immigrants were in the 25 to 44 age group.
Many of the characteristics and circumstances described in this profile vary with age. Differences between immigrants or groups of immigrants and the Canadian-born often are at least in part a reflection of differences in the age structure.
Figure B-1: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born, by age, Calgary Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (percentage distribution)
More women than men
The proportion of women in the recent immigrant population in Calgary is similar to but, at 52% to 53%, slightly higher than that of the Canadian-born population.
|15 to 24
|25 to 44 years||45 to 64 years||65 years and over||Total|
|Immigrated before 1986||–||49%||49%||49%||54%||50%|
There are 4,800 more women than men among the 92,000 recent immigrants in Calgary. The number of women is particularly high among recent immigrants from the Philippines (2,200 more women than men out of 8,800 recent immigrants) and Japan (130 more women than men out of 260 recent immigrants).
As women on average live longer than men, they make up a large share of persons 65 years of age and over. But the higher proportion of women among recent immigrants is not related to age. For instance, two-thirds of recent immigrants aged 25 to 64 from the Philippines are women. Many of them have obtained permanent resident status after a period of employment as live-in caregivers.
At the opposite end of the spectrum of the gender mix are Ghana, Italy and Afghanistan. Fifty-seven percent or more of recent immigrants from these countries are men. Men outnumber women by 130 among the 340 recent immigrants from Ghana, and by 160 among the 1,170 recent immigrants from Afghanistan.
The gender balance, by country of origin, has not changed greatly since 1996.
Language and education
Nine in ten very recent immigrants speak English or French
A large majority of Calgary’s immigrants 15 years of age and over reported being able to carry on a conversation in at least one of Canada’s two official languages. Even among very recent immigrants, who landed in Canada between 1996 and 2001, nine in ten (93% of men and 87% of women) reported being able to speak an official language in May 2001. Only one in ten of these very recent immigrants could not speak either official language. Knowledge of official languages was somewhat greater among earlier immigrants—96% of those who immigrated before 1986 indicated they were able to speak an official language.
|English only||French only||English
|15 to 24 years||2,540||30||90||170||2,820|
|25 to 44 years||8,020||30||510||690||9,240|
|45 to 64 years||1,640||–||80||710||2,430|
|65 years and over||320||–||10||350||670|
|15 years and over||12,510||50||680||1,910||15,150|
|15 to 24 years||2,430||10||130||110||2,670|
|25 to 44 years||7,000||20||570||230||7,810|
|45 to 64 years||2,100||–||130||370||2,600|
|65 years and over||190||–||10||250||440|
|15 years and over||11,720||30||840||950||13,530|
|15 to 24 years||4,970||30||220||270||5,480|
|25 to 44 years||15,020||50||1,080||920||17,050|
|45 to 64 years||3,750||10||200||1,090||5,040|
|65 years and over||510||–||20||590||1,120|
|15 years and over||24,220||90||1,520||2,860||28,680|
|15 to 24 years||90%||1%||3%||6%||100%|
|25 to 44 years||87%||0%||5%||7%||100%|
|45 to 64 years||68%||0%||3%||29%||100%|
|65 years and over||47%||0%||1%||52%||100%|
|15 years and over||83%||0%||4%||13%||100%|
|15 to 24 years||91%||0%||5%||4%||100%|
|25 to 44 years||90%||0%||7%||3%||100%|
|45 to 64 years||81%||0%||5%||14%||100%|
|65 years and over||42%||0%||2%||57%||100%|
|15 years and over||87%||0%||6%||7%||100%|
|15 to 24 years||91%||1%||4%||5%||100%|
|25 to 44 years||88%||0%||6%||5%||100%|
|45 to 64 years||74%||0%||4%||22%||100%|
|65 years and over||46%||0%||2%||53%||100%|
|15 years and over||84%||0%||5%||10%||100%|
The proportion of Calgary’s immigrants able to carry on a conversation in English or French decreases with age. Among immigrants under age 45 who landed in Canada between 1996 and 2001, almost all are able to speak an official language, and there is little difference between men and women in this regard. Among those aged 45 to 64, however, the percentage that can speak English or French is lower, and more so for women than men. For seniors aged 65 and over, having conversational ability in English or French is least likely, with the percentage being lower for men than for women.
Ability to converse in either or both official languages has improved with the very recent immigrant cohort: 5% more men and 5% more women had this ability in 2001 compared to a similar cohort (those who landed within the five years prior to the census) in 1996. This may reflect changes in countries of origin, the increase in the number of economic immigrants and perhaps also greater awareness among immigrants before and after arrival of the need to speak Canada’s languages.
Nearly two in three very recent immigrants speak a foreign language at home
For the majority of Calgary’s recent immigrants, the language spoken most often at home is one other than English or French. Nearly two in three immigrants who landed between 1996 and 2001 most often speak a foreign language in their homes.
The use of a foreign language is also high among other immigrant cohorts. About six in ten of those who immigrated between 1986 and 1995 and one-quarter of those who immigrated prior to 1986 most often speak a foreign language at home.
Figure B-2: Immigrants by period of immigration 15 years of age and over—use of a foreign language at home, Calgary Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (percentage)
The use of foreign languages in the home among very recent immigrants was not as high in 2001 as in 1996, when 67% of immigrants who landed in the previous five-year period reported use of a foreign language in the home. Among those who had lived in Canada from 5 to 15 years, 57% commonly used a foreign language in 2001, compared to 52% of the comparable cohort in 1996.
High level of education among very recent immigrants
The share of immigrants with a minimal education is at least twice as large as the share of the Canadian-born with a minimal education. The latter are more likely than immigrants to have some high school and more likely than recent immigrants to have a college or trade diploma. Very recent immigrants, however, boast a significant number of university graduates. This high proportion of university graduates is most likely a result of immigrant selection policy. A large proportion of very recent immigrants have entered as economic immigrants, and for them, education is an important admission criterion.
When education levels are compared among age groups, the younger generation has a much higher level of education than older groups, whether born inside or outside Canada. Over six in ten Canadian-born persons under 45 years of age have a post-secondary diploma or degree (62% of men and 63% of women), compared to less than one-half of men age 65 and over and one-third of women age 65 and over. A similar difference in educational qualifications is observed among immigrants.
Fully three-quarters of men aged 25 to 44 who immigrated during the 1996-2001 period have a post-secondary diploma or degree, compared to three in five Canadian-born men. The shares of women with a post-secondary diploma or degree are similar.
As for persons of 45 to 64 years of age, the education level of very recently immigrated men is the same as that of Canadian-born men, while women in the very recent immigrant cohort have less schooling than their Canadian-born counterparts.
|Less than grade 9||Some high school||High school diploma||College or trade diploma||University degree||Total|
|Immigrated before 1986||7,330||10,260||10,210||15,690||9,490||52,970|
|Immigrated before 1986||4,480||8,540||7,960||18,110||13,410||52,510|
|Immigrated before 1986||11,810||18,790||18,170||33,810||22,900||105,460|
|Immigrated before 1986||14%||19%||19%||30%||18%||100%|
|Immigrated before 1986||9%||16%||15%||34%||26%||100%|
|Immigrated before 1986||11%||18%||17%||32%||22%||100%|
|No high school diploma||With post-secondary diploma or degree|
|25 to 44 years||45 to 65 years||65 years and over||25 to 44 years||45 to 65 years||65 years and over|
|Immigrated before 1986||2,780||6,570||8,010||8,600||12,720||3,210|
|Immigrated before 1986||3,220||4,740||4,800||8,950||16,790||5,350|
|Immigrated before 1986||5,990||11,300||12,810||17,550||29,490||8,570|
|Immigrated before 1986||19%||28%||61%||59%||53%||25%|
|Immigrated before 1986||21%||19%||42%||60%||68%||47%|
|Immigrated before 1986||20%||23%||53%||59%||61%||35%|
Recent immigrants add to Calgary’s pool of scientists and engineers
Seven out of every ten men who immigrated after 1986 and have a post-secondary diploma or degree majored in physical sciences, engineering or trades. This compares to between five and six in ten Canadian-born men. Among women with a post-secondary diploma or degree, more than one in four very recent immigrants has studied some physical science, engineering and trades, twice as large a share as of Canadian-born women with similar education levels.
|Physical sciences, engineering and trades||Social sciences, education and arts||Commerce, manage-
|Health professions and related technologies||Total|
|Immigrated before 1986||2,480||4,170||3,450||1,760||11,850|
|Immigrated before 1986||6,890||1,860||1,720||480||10,940|
|Immigrated before 1986||9,360||6,020||5,160||2,240||22,780|
|Immigrated before 1986||21%||35%||29%||15%||100%|
|Immigrated before 1986||63%||17%||16%||4%||100%|
|Immigrated before 1986||41%||26%||23%||10%||100%|
By contrast, recent immigrants are represented in smaller proportions than the Canadian-born in the social sciences, education and arts (measured as a group) and commerce, management and business administration (measured as a group). The several immigrant cohorts and the Canadian-born are more alike with respect to the proportions that specialized in health professions and technologies. The educational choices of very recent immigrants are much the same as in 1996.
Recent immigrants more likely to attend school
Very recent immigrants are relatively likely to be in school. School attendance is about twice as high for this group as for the Canadian-born in both the 25-44 and 45-64 age groups.
School attendance, of course, is much higher in the youngest age group, persons of 15 to 24 years of age, than in older age groups. Here we find a higher rate for men who immigrated very recently than for the Canadian-born and about the same rate for very recent immigrant women and Canadian-born women. The latter is just as noteworthy as the former, as educational participation of young Canadian-born women is very high by international standards. School attendance is also high among young earlier immigrants.
By and large, school attendance rates were similar to those in 1996.
|15 to 24
|25 to 44
|45 to 64
|15 to 24
|25 to 44
|45 to 64
|Immigrated before 1986||880||1,850||1,130||59%||13%||5%|
|Immigrated before 1986||880||1,930||800||58%||13%||3%|
|Immigrated before 1986||1,760||3,770||1,930||59%||13%||4%|
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