Recent Immigrants in Metropolitan Areas: Vancouver—A Comparative Profile Based on the 2001 Census
Part B: Who Are the Recent Immigrants?
Origin, immigration category and religion
Asian origins are predominant
Vancouver’s immigrants come from all over the world and represent a diversity of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Asia has always been a major source of immigrants for Vancouver. In 2001, for example, there were 189,700 residents of Vancouver who had landed in Canada between 1996 and 2001. The most common country of birth for these immigrants was China, accounting for 20% of very recent immigrants (29% if persons born in Hong Kong are included), followed by Taiwan, which supplied 13% of very recent immigrants. Six of the ten most common countries of birth were in East and Southeast Asia: China, Taiwan, India, Hong Kong, Philippines and South Korea. These countries combined accounted for 65% of very recent immigrants. The large share of recent and very recent immigrants from this part of the world is unique to Vancouver. Other cities, including Toronto, have greater diversity in the countries of birth of recent immigrants.
Among Vancouver’s earlier immigrants—those landing in Canada before 1986—the United Kingdom and China were the most common countries of birth, accounting for 29% of this group.
In general, the birth origins of Vancouver’s immigrant population vary in relation to the period of immigration. Asian birth origins are predominant among those who immigrated in the 1980s and 1990s. As mentioned previously, six of the top ten countries of birth of very recent immigrants are in Asia. For immigrants who landed from 1986 to 1995, eight of the top ten countries of birth are in Asia.
|1||China, People's Republic of||101,770||14%|
|Top ten countries||498,240||67%|
|All other countries||240,310||33%|
|Immigrated before 1986|
|2||China, People's Republic of||30,870||10%|
|Top ten countries||214,420||67%|
|All other countries||107,390||33%|
|2||China, People's Republic of||36,460||15%|
|Top ten countries||183,680||74%|
|All other countries||63,450||26%|
|1||China, People's Republic of||34,440||20%|
|10||South Africa, Republic of||2,610||2%|
|Top ten countries||129,600||76%|
|All other countries||40,020||24%|
A favoured destination
For some immigrant groups, Vancouver is a top destination. For example, of the 60,500 Taiwan-born individuals who immigrated after 1985 and were living in Canada in 2001, 42,000 or 69% were living in Vancouver. Vancouver is also home to a large share of recent immigrants from Hong Kong, China and Fiji. This is in stark contrast to the settlement patterns of recent immigrants born in the United States. Of the 74,000 recent immigrants to Canada born in the United States, a relatively small proportion—11%—were residing in Vancouver in 2001. Even the share of recent immigrants born in the United States and living in Vancouver, however, exceeds the 5% share of Canadian-born persons living in Vancouver.
On average, 17% of recent immigrants chose Vancouver as their place of residence.
|Country of Birth||Total recent immigrants to Canada||Share residing in Vancouver|
|China, People's Republic of||236,930||30%|
|South Africa, Republic of||19,890||25%|
|All recent immigrants||2,491,850||17%|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||23,170||11%|
|Trinidad and Tobago||28,790||2%|
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 Vancouver’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 Vancouver as their destination when they landed in Canada increased by 85,000 between the second half of the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, and by a further 19,000 in the second half of the 1990s. The rise was concentrated in the economic immigration category, while the other immigration categories decreased in the second half of the 1990s. Nearly 70% of very recent immigrants destined for Vancouver entered through the economic category.
Within the family class, the number of sponsored spouses showed little change over the three five-year periods and in the latest 1996-2000 period amounted to more than one-half of this category. The number of other relatives—parents and grandparents, sons and daughters, and fiancés—fell sharply from about 31,000 during the 1991-1995 period to 19,000 during the 1996-2000 period.
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.
As for refugees, both government-assisted and privately-sponsored refugees declined in number. Six thousand government-sponsored refugees went to Vancouver during the 1986-1990 period and only four thousand in each of the two following periods. One thousand privately-sponsored refugees entered in the second half of the 1990s, only one-third of the number that entered in the second half of the 1980s. The other refugee categories, refugees landed in Canada and refugee dependants, increased from negligible levels to the same levels as the other two refugee categories.
Skilled workers and their dependants account for the lion’s share of economic immigrants, and there was a steady flow of new entrants destined for Vancouver throughout the 1986-2000 period.
Immigrants are changing the religious landscape
Immigrants have brought to Vancouver several religions that are virtually absent among the Canadian-born. One-quarter of immigrants as a whole and an even larger share of recent immigrants are Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or Sikhs. Among the Canadian-born, none of these four religions claims the affiliation of more than 3% of the population.
|Canadian-born||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.
Fifteen percent of very recent immigrants report an affiliation with the Roman Catholic faith, a share only slightly smaller than that of the Canadian-born. The share of recent immigrants who are Protestants is half the share of Protestants among those who immigrated before 1986. The proportion of recent immigrants reporting no religion is greater than one-third, the same share as for the Canadian-born.
Age and gender
Large share 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, with a larger proportion of persons aged 25 to 44 and proportionally fewer children under 15 years of age. In 2001, over two-fifths of recent immigrants living in Vancouver were between the ages of 25 and 44, compared to less than one-third of the Canadian-born. Children less than 15 years of age accounted for one-fifth of the very recent immigrant population compared with one-quarter of the Canadian-born.
|Under 15 years||15 to 24 years||25 to 44 years||45 to 64 years||65 years and over||Total|
|Immigrated before 1986||0||3,310||41,760||75,240||46,150||166,460|
|Immigrated before 1986||0||3,770||40,020||71,950||39,600||155,340|
|Immigrated before 1986||0||7,090||81,770||147,190||85,750||321,810|
|Immigrated before 1986||0%||2%||25%||46%||27%||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, given that 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—age, Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, 2001 (percentage distribution)
More women than men
The proportion of women in the recent immigrant population in Vancouver is similar to but, at 53%, slightly higher than that of the Canadian-born population. More than 60% of recent immigrants from Japan, Slovakia and the Philippines are women.
|Under 15 years||15 to 24 years||25 to 44 years||45 to 64 years||65 years and over||Total|
|Immigrated before 1986||-||47%||51%||51%||54%||52%|
There are 25,000 more women than men among the 416,700 recent immigrants in Vancouver. The number of women is particularly high among recent immigrants from the Philippines (6,700 more women than men out of 32,500 recent immigrants) and China (4,700 more women than men out of 70,900 recent immigrants).
As women on average live longer than men, they make up a large share of persons aged 65 years and over. But the higher proportion of women among recent immigrants is not related to age. For instance, nearly two-thirds of recent immigrants aged 25 to 44 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 Iran and Pakistan. Over 52% of recent immigrants from these countries are men. Men outnumber women by 600 among recent immigrants from Iran and by 400 in the case of Pakistan.
The gender balance, by country of origin, has not changed greatly since 1996.
Language and education
Six in seven very recent immigrants speak English or French
A large majority of Vancouver’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. Among very recent immigrants, who landed in Canada between 1996 and 2001, six in seven (87% of men and 82% of women) reported being able to speak an official language in May 2001. One in seven of these very recent immigrants could not speak either official language. Knowledge of official languages was greater among those who immigrated before 1986—92% of women and 96% of men indicated that they were able to speak an official language.
The proportion of Vancouver’s immigrants who report being 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 (both men and women) are able to speak an official language. Among those aged 45 to 64, however, the proportion who can speak English or French decreases, and more so for women than men. Men and women aged 65 and over are least likely to have conversational ability in English or French.
Ability to converse in either or both official languages has improved with the very recent immigrant cohort: 3% more men and 4% 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 of the need to speak Canada’s languages before and after arrival.
Three in four very recent immigrants speak a foreign language at home
For the majority of Vancouver’s recent immigrants the language spoken most often at home is one other than English or French. Three-quarters of immigrants who landed between 1996 and 2001 most often speak a foreign language in their homes.
The use of foreign languages is also high among other immigrant cohorts. Seven in ten of those who immigrated between 1986 and 1995 and one in three 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, Vancouver 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 78% of very recent immigrants reported use of a foreign language in the home. Among those who had lived in Canada from 5 to 15 years, 69% commonly used a foreign language in 2001, compared to 63% in 1996.
Many university graduates among recent immigrants
The share of immigrants with a minimal education is more than three times larger than the share of the Canadian-born with a minimal education. The Canadian-born are more likely than immigrants to have some high school or to have completed high school. University degrees, however, are more common among immigrants than among the Canadian-born. In particular, very recent immigrants boast a large number of university graduates. The high proportion of university graduates is most likely a result of immigrant selection policy. A large share of very recent immigrants entered as economic immigrants, and level of education is an important admission criterion in this category.
When education levels are compared by age group, 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 under 45 years of age have a post-secondary diploma or degree compared to four in ten men over age 65 and three in ten women over age 65. A similar difference in educational qualifications is observed among immigrants.
|Less than grade 9||Some high school||High school diploma||College or trade diploma||University degree||Total|
|Immigrated before 1986||25,830||30,580||34,100||48,970||27,000||166,460|
|Immigrated before 1986||15,930||25,930||25,490||53,510||34,500||155,350|
|Immigrated before 1986||41,760||56,500||59,590||102,470||61,500||321,810|
|Immigrated before 1986||16%||18%||20%||29%||16%||100%|
|Immigrated before 1986||10%||17%||16%||34%||22%||100%|
|Immigrated before 1986||13%||18%||19%||32%||19%||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||7,400||20,800||27,670||25,260||38,550||10,930|
|Immigrated before 1986||7,890||15,700||17,500||23,950||45,360||17,310|
|Immigrated before 1986||15,270||36,490||45,180||49,190||83,900||28,250|
|Immigrated before 1986||18%||28%||60%||60%||51%||24%|
|Immigrated before 1986||20%||22%||44%||60%||63%||44%|
|Immigrated before 1986||19%||25%||53%||60%||57%||33%|
Three-quarters of men aged 25 to 44 who immigrated from 1996 to 2001 have a post-secondary diploma or degree, compared to three-fifths of Canadian-born men. For very recent immigrant women in the same age group, 70% have a post-secondary diploma, exceeding the 64% share of Canadian-born women of the same age.
As for persons 45 years and over, the education level of very recent immigrant men is about the same as that of Canadian-born men, while women in the very recent immigrant cohort have less schooling than their Canadian-born counterparts.
Recent immigrants add to Vancouver’s pool of scientists and engineers
Approximately three out of every five men who immigrated after 1986 and have a post-secondary diploma or degree majored in physical sciences, engineering or trades. This compares to half of Canadian-born men. Among women with a post-secondary diploma or degree, one-quarter of recent immigrants have studied some physical science or technology, compared to one in ten Canadian-born women with similar education levels.
|Physical sciences, engineering and trades||Social sciences, education and arts||Commerce, management and business administration||Health professions and related technologies||Total|
|Immigrated before 1986||9,060||19,710||17,120||7,600||53,480|
|Immigrated before 1986||25,700||10,700||10,160||2,900||49,460|
|Immigrated before 1986||34,750||30,400||27,280||10,490||102,910|
|Immigrated before 1986||17%||37%||32%||14%||100%|
|Immigrated before 1986||52%||22%||21%||6%||100%|
|Immigrated before 1986||34%||30%||27%||10%||100%|
By contrast, recent immigrants are represented in smaller proportions than the Canadian-born in the social sciences, education and the arts (taken as a group). Somewhat less than one-half of Canadian-born women have diplomas or degrees in these fields, compared to over one-third of recent immigrant women. For men, the share of diplomas and degrees in the social fields of studies is three-tenths for the Canadian-born and one-fifth for recent immigrants. The several immigrant cohorts and the Canadian-born are more alike with respect to the proportions that specialize 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 at least six percentage points higher for this group than for the Canadian-born, in both the 25-44 and 45-64 age groups.
|15 to 24 years||25 to 44 years||45 to 64 years||15 to 24 years||25 to 44 years||45 to 64 years|
|Immigrated before 1986||2,150||5,690||3,490||65%||14%||5%|
|Immigrated before 1986||2,200||4,890||2,440||58%||12%||3%|
|Immigrated before 1986||4,370||10,590||5,930||62%||13%||4%|
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 and women who immigrated very recently than among their Canadian-born counterparts. The relatively high rate for women is quite noteworthy, as educational participation of young Canadian-born women is very high by international standards. School attendance is also high among young earlier immigrants. School attendance rates for all cohorts are similar to those in 1996.
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