Recent Immigrants in Metropolitan Areas: Vancouver—A Comparative Profile Based on the 2001 Census

Part E: Income

Sources and level of income

Sources of income vary by time in Canada

Income from employment is the most common source of income for the Canadian-born. Seven in ten Canadian-born women and eight in ten Canadian-born men had earnings from employment in the year 2000. A larger share of the Canadian-born than of immigrants had income from employment. In 2000, the share of men and women with employment income for the very recent immigrant cohort was higher than in 1995 by an average of 6%.

Table E-1: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born, 15 years of age and over—sources of income, by gender, Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, 2000 (number and percentage)
  No income Employment income Other private income Government transfers Total
Women
Canadian-born 23,520 320,310 153,940 278,360 456,710
Immigrants 23,350 200,320 116,370 235,530 345,760
 Immigrated before 1986 5,030 95,320 67,900 115,150 166,460
 Immigrated 1986-1995 10,640 73,500 33,520 83,730 122,360
 Immigrated 1996-1999 7,690 31,510 14,950 36,650 56,950
Men
Canadian-born 19,230 350,360 125,960 226,780 447,760
Immigrants 12,450 213,700 101,420 195,690 313,040
 Immigrated before 1986 650 106,650 60,730 94,820 155,340
 Immigrated 1986-1995 7,240 74,110 27,330 69,260 108,510
 Immigrated 1996-1999 4,560 32,950 13,360 31,620 49,190
Total
Canadian-born 42,740 670,670 279,900 505,130 904,460
Immigrants 35,790 414,030 217,790 431,230 658,810
 Immigrated before 1986 5,670 201,970 128,630 209,980 321,800
 Immigrated 1986-1995 17,880 147,610 60,850 152,990 230,870
 Immigrated 1996-1999 12,250 64,460 28,310 68,260 106,140
 
Women
Canadian-born 5% 70% 34% 61% 100%
Immigrants 7% 58% 34% 68% 100%
 Immigrated before 1986 3% 57% 41% 69% 100%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 9% 60% 27% 68% 100%
 Immigrated 1996-1999 13% 55% 26% 64% 100%
Men
Canadian-born 4% 78% 28% 51% 100%
Immigrants 4% 68% 32% 63% 100%
 Immigrated before 1986 0% 69% 39% 61% 100%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 7% 68% 25% 64% 100%
 Immigrated 1996-1999 9% 67% 27% 64% 100%
Total
Canadian-born 5% 74% 31% 56% 100%
Immigrants 5% 63% 33% 65% 100%
 Immigrated before 1986 2% 63% 40% 65% 100%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 8% 64% 26% 66% 100%
 Immigrated 1996-1999 12% 61% 27% 64% 100%

Note: Incomes are for the year 2000. In all tables in Part E, immigrants and very recent immigrants include only those who landed before the year 2000 and could have had income the entire year. A person may have income from one, two or all three sources. The three sources are defined in the Glossary.

Very recent immigrants are twice as likely as the Canadian-born to have no income. More recent cohorts are more likely to have no income than earlier cohorts, and immigrants who landed before 1986 are less likely than the Canadian-born to have no income. Absence of income among women was less common in 2000 than in 1995. The incidence of zero income dropped by six percentage points for the very recent immigrant cohort, and by about three percentage points for other women groups. Among men there was little change in the share with zero income since 1995.

Recent immigrants are much less likely to have other private income—for example, income from investments or pension plans—in comparison to the Canadian-born and earlier immigrants. However, these shares decreased since 1995 for very recent immigrants by about 3%. The share of earlier immigrants with other private income is significantly higher than that of the Canadian-born.

The incidence of income from government transfer payments is higher among immigrants than among the Canadian-born. The high proportion of earlier immigrants receiving transfer payments from government reflects the high share of seniors in this group, who generally receive Old Age Security and Canada or Quebec Pension Plan benefits. The incidence of transfer payment income has shifted markedly from men to women since 1995, as in 2000 child benefit payments were made to the mother of the child.

Average income increases with length of stay

The average income of immigrants in the year 2000 was about four-fifth of that of the Canadian-born, considering only persons who reported income. Those who immigrated before 1986 had almost the same average income as the Canadian-born. For very recent immigrants, average income was a little more than one-half of that of the Canadian-born, and for those who immigrated during the 1986-1995 period it was close to two-thirds of that of the Canadian-born.

Table E-2: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born— 15 years of age and over, with income —average income and sources of average income, by gender, Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, 2000
  Sources of average income
  Average income
of persons with income
Employment income Other private income Government transfers Total
Women
Canadian-born $27,650 76% 13% 11% 100%
Immigrants $21,990 70% 14% 16% 100%
 Immigrated before 1986 $26,560 67% 16% 17% 100%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 $18,670 74% 11% 15% 100%
 Immigrated 1996-1999 $14,530 73% 11% 16% 100%
Men
Canadian-born $42,090 84% 10% 6% 100%
Immigrants $33,490 79% 12% 9% 100%
 Immigrated before 1986 $41,380 76% 14% 10% 100%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 $25,980 83% 9% 8% 100%
 Immigrated 1996-1999 $23,200 83% 9% 8% 100%
Total
Canadian-born $34,840 81% 11% 8% 100%
Immigrants $27,540 75% 13% 12% 100%
 Immigrated before 1986 $33,820 72% 15% 13% 100%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 $22,140 79% 10% 11% 100%
 Immigrated 1996-1999 $18,650 79% 10% 11% 100%

Note: Incomes are for the year 2000. In all tables in Part E, immigrants and very recent immigrants include only those who landed before the year 2000 and could have had income the entire year.

Compared to 1995, the average income of very recent immigrant men increased more than that of other cohorts—by almost one-third. The average income of those who had been in the country between five and fifteen years increased by 10%.

The average income of Canadian-born women and the average income of immigrant women are both about two-thirds that of their respective male counterparts.

Earnings from employment account for the bulk of income of all groups and make up a slightly higher proportion of income of the Canadian-born than of immigrant income. The share of income derived from employment has increased markedly since 1995 for very recent immigrants, by 5% for women and 10% for men, while other cohorts did not report a significant change.

The share of other private income is slightly lower for recent immigrants than for the Canadian-born, while transfer payments from government make up a larger share of their income. The share of transfer payments is higher because the income of recent immigrants is relatively low, as the average amounts paid to Canadian-born and immigrant households are similar. Compared to 1995, the share of other private income decreased for very recent immigrants by seven percentage points, while other cohorts experienced only a small change.

Earnings of recent immigrants who worked mostly full-time lower

The wages and salaries earned by recent immigrants who worked mostly full-time in 2000 are below the Vancouver average. As was shown in the previous section, recent immigrants generally have jobs that require lower skills than the jobs of the Canadian-born and would therefore generally receive lower rates of pay. Recent immigrants also generally have less work experience in Canada than earlier immigrants and the Canadian-born.

Table E-3: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born—15 years of age and over, employed mostly full-time—average earnings from wages and salaries, and earnings as percentage of overall average, Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, 2000
  Amount Percentage of overall average
Canadian-born $43,760 107%
Immigrants $36,790 90%
 Immigrated before 1986 $43,660 106%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 $30,810 75%
 Immigrated 1996-1999 $26,690 65%
All who worked mostly full-time $41,090 100%

Note: Incomes are for the year 2000. In all tables in Part E, immigrants and very recent immigrants include only those who landed before the year 2000 and could have had income the entire year.

The level of wages and salaries of very recent immigrants relative to the overall Vancouver average (65% of the average) was higher in 2000 than in 1995 by eight percentage points. Those who had been in the country from 5 to 15 years, however, had the same relative earnings level as their counterparts of five years earlier.

Transfers a larger share of household income of non-seniors

In the year 2000, a large majority of households received government transfer payments. Recent immigrant households were more likely to receive transfer payments than other households. On average, the payments received were somewhat higher in dollar terms than for other households but even higher relative to income.

Transfer payments vary considerably with the age of the oldest person in the household and so do differences between recent immigrant, earlier immigrant and Canadian-born households. Recent immigrant households of the very young receive lower amounts than their Canadian-born and earlier immigrant counterparts. As for households of persons aged 25 to 44 and 45 to 64, recent immigrant households were both more likely to receive transfer payments and to receive larger amounts than earlier immigrants and the Canadian-born.

Table E-4: Immigrant households (by period of immigration) and Canadian-born households—percentage of households receiving transfers, average amount of government transfer payments, and transfers as a share of income, by age of older parent in family or oldest person in non-family household, Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, 2000
  15 to 24 years 25 to 44 years 45 to 65 years 65 years and over Total
Share of households receiving government transfer payments
Canadian-born households 87% 72% 69% 100% 77%
Earlier immigrant households 92% 73% 76% 100% 83%
Recent immigrant households 82% 86% 91% 99% 89%
 1986-1995 immigrants 84% 84% 90% 99% 89%
 1996-1999 immigrants with others 89% 83% 92% 100% 89%
 1996-1999 immigrants only 75% 90% 95% 100% 92%
Average amount of transfer per receiving household
Canadian-born households $2,310 $2,680 $3,080 $16,030 $5,370
Earlier immigrant households $2,740 $3,450 $3,750 $16,720 $7,870
Recent immigrant households $1,830 $4,410 $4,350 $14,800 $5,650
 1986-1995 immigrants $2,010 $4,460 $3,940 $14,790 $5,740
 1996-1999 immigrants with others $2,520 $4,860 $6,210 $16,830 $7,090
 1996-1999 immigrants only $760 $4,020 $4,500 $9,930 $4,380
Transfers as a share of income, all households
Canadian-born households 8% 3% 3% 35% 7%
Earlier immigrant households 9% 4% 3% 33% 9%
Recent immigrant households 8% 7% 7% 26% 9%
 1986-1995 immigrants 9% 7% 6% 27% 9%
 1996-1999 immigrants with others 8% 7% 8% 22% 9%
 1996-1999 immigrants only 7% 9% 11% 30% 10%

Note: Incomes are for the year 2000. In all tables in Part E, immigrants and very recent immigrants include only those who landed before the year 2000 and could have had income the entire year.

Transfer payments to households without seniors generally reflect benefits of Employment Insurance, Workers Compensation, social assistance, student assistance, or other programs. Included in these transfer payments are tax credits such as the Canada Child Benefit and GST tax credits and provincial tax credits. The somewhat higher incidence and higher amounts of transfer payments for recent immigrant households of persons 25 to 64 years old in relation to earlier immigrants and the Canadian-born may have to do with the larger average number of children in families and with differences in labour market participation and unemployment reviewed in Part D. That transfer payments from government make up a larger part of income than for their Canadian-born and earlier immigrant counterparts also reflects their lower incomes.

Almost all households with persons 65 years of age and over received transfer payments from government: Old Age Security, the Guaranteed Income Supplement, or Canada or Quebec Pension Plan benefits. Recent immigrant households of seniors received a smaller amount, and this amount also made up a smaller share of their income than is the case for Canadian-born and earlier immigrant households. Households consisting only of very recent immigrants 65 years of age and over received much less than other households. Seniors who immigrated very recently are not entitled to Old Age Security, and they may not have built up credits under the Canada or Quebec Pension Plan.

The distribution of income

Personal income reaches parity with longer stay

Of very recent immigrants, more than one-half of women and two-fifth of men reported no income or income of less than $10,000 in 2000. The share reporting no income is lower for persons who immigrated during the 1986-1995 period. And the share of persons without income is even lower for earlier immigrants, who also report income below $10,000 in much smaller proportions than recent immigrants.

At the high end of the income scale, recent immigrants and especially very recent immigrants are underrepresented. The proportion with incomes $50,000 and over is on average three times as large among the Canadian-born as among recent immigrants. By contrast, the proportion of earlier immigrants with income of $50,000 and over is almost equal to that of the Canadian-born.

Table E-5: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born, 15 years of age and over—income levels, by gender (number and percentage distribution) and average income, by gender, Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, 2000
  Without
income
$1 to
$9,999
$10,000 to $29,999 $30,000 to $49,999 $50,000 and over Total
Women
Canadian-born 23,510 102,860 161,650 110,450 58,230 456,710
Immigrants 23,350 98,030 138,590 59,310 26,480 345,760
 Immigrated before 1986 5,020 32,590 72,450 37,790 18,610 166,460
 Immigrated 1986-1995 10,640 41,700 46,880 16,930 6,210 122,350
 Immigrated 1996-1999 7,690 23,750 19,260 4,600 1,670 56,950
Men
Canadian-born 19,230 78,210 114,840 108,310 127,200 447,750
Immigrants 12,450 64,060 110,940 65,250 60,350 313,040
 Immigrated before 1986 660 18,470 54,000 39,440 42,790 155,340
 Immigrated 1986-1995 7,240 29,930 39,360 19,160 12,840 108,510
 Immigrated 1996-1999 4,560 15,670 17,590 6,660 4,720 49,190
Total
Canadian-born 42,740 181,060 276,480 218,760 185,430 904,460
Immigrants 35,790 162,090 249,530 124,560 86,830 658,820
 Immigrated before 1986 5,670 51,070 126,450 77,220 61,400 321,820
 Immigrated 1986-1995 17,880 71,610 86,240 36,100 19,050 230,870
 Immigrated 1996-1999 12,250 39,420 36,840 11,250 6,390 106,140
  Without income $1 to $9,999 $10,000 to $29,999 $30,000 to $49,999 $50,000 and over Total Average income
Women
Canadian-born 5% 23% 35% 24% 13% 100% $26,230
Immigrants 7% 28% 40% 17% 8% 100% $20,500
 Immigrated before 1986 3% 20% 44% 23% 11% 100% $25,760
 Immigrated 1986-1995 9% 34% 38% 14% 5% 100% $17,040
 Immigrated 1996-1999 13% 42% 34% 8% 3% 100% $12,570
Men
Canadian-born 4% 17% 26% 24% 28% 100% $40,290
Immigrants 4% 20% 35% 21% 19% 100% $32,160
 Immigrated before 1986 0% 12% 35% 25% 28% 100% $41,210
 Immigrated 1986-1995 7% 28% 36% 18% 12% 100% $24,240
 Immigrated 1996-1999 9% 32% 36% 14% 10% 100% $21,050
Total
Canadian-born 5% 20% 31% 24% 21% 100% $33,190
Immigrants 5% 25% 38% 19% 13% 100% $26,040
 Immigrated before 1986 2% 16% 39% 24% 19% 100% $33,220
 Immigrated 1986-1995 8% 31% 37% 16% 8% 100% $20,430
 Immigrated 1996-1999 12% 37% 35% 11% 6% 100% $16,500

Note: Incomes are for the year 2000. In all tables in Part E, immigrants and very recent immigrants include only those who landed before the year 2000 and could have had income the entire year.

Recent immigrant household income nine-tenths of overall average

In the year 2000, recent immigrant households had average income of $56,300 or 89% of the income of Canadian-born households. The income of households consisting only of very recent immigrants was particularly low, just 61% of the income of households of the Canadian-born.

One in three households consisting of only very recent immigrants has income of less than $20,000, in spite of their large size. In households that combine very recent immigrants with other persons, their relatively high income may be a result of their large size and the fact that the other members of the household have lived in Canada for more than five years and are more likely to be earners.

Table E-6: Immigrant households (by period of immigration) and Canadian-born households—household income levels (number and percentage distribution) and average household income, Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, 2000
Households $0 to $19,999 $20,000 to $39,999 $40,000 to $59,999 $60,000 to $79,999 $80,000 and over Total Average income
Canadian-born 70,880 83,160 78,890 58,580 105,420 396,920 $63,620
18% 21% 20% 15% 27% 100%
Earlier immigrants 28,580 37,500 33,430 28,670 61,570 189,750 $70,210
15% 20% 18% 15% 32% 100%
Recent immigrants 28,750 35,060 29,310 21,120 30,930 145,190 $56,330
20% 24% 20% 15% 21% 100%
 1986-1995 immigrants 17,030 21,140 18,790 14,370 21,960 93,320 $59,330
18% 23% 20% 15% 24% 100%
 1996-1999 immigrants
 with others
2,170 4,170 5,110 3,890 6,340 21,670 $67,740
10% 19% 24% 18% 29% 100%
 1996-1999 immigrants
  only
9,560 9,750 5,410 2,870 2,630 30,210 $38,870
32% 32% 18% 9% 9% 100%
All households 140,680 161,120 145,000 110,370 201,550 758,710 $63,000
19% 21% 19% 15% 27% 100%

Note: Incomes are for the year 2000. In all tables in Part E, immigrants and very recent immigrants include only those who landed before the year 2000 and could have had income the entire year. The total “All households” includes households of non-permanent residents. For definitions of household and related concepts, see the Glossary.

Four in ten very recent immigrants have low income

Recent immigrants are more likely than earlier immigrants and the Canadian-born to live in families with incomes that fall below the median family income or, if they do not live in families, to have income below the median for unattached individuals. They are also more likely to have or live in families with incomes that fall below one-half of the median income—that is, to have low income. The proportion of immigrants with income in the bottom half or quarter of the income distribution declines in relation to the cohort’s length of stay in Canada.

The share of very recent immigrants whose family or individual income is below one-half of the median income is nearly three times as large as that of the Canadian-born. The proportion of very recent immigrants with income below the median is also much higher, with three out of four finding themselves in this situation. Although earlier immigrant households have higher average income than Canadian-born households, a slightly larger proportion of earlier immigrants find themselves below the median or one-half of the median income.

Figure E-1: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born—percentage with family or individual income below the median and below one-half of the median, Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, 2000
Figure E-1

Note: Incomes are for the year 2000. In all figures in Part E, immigrants and very recent immigrants include only those who landed before the year 2000 and could have had income the entire year. For a definition of median income and details about the calculations, see the Glossary.

The proportion of individuals with income below the median varies with age and to a lesser extent gender. For the Canadian-born and earlier immigrants, the highest incidence of incomes that are below the median is found among seniors. But this is not so for very recent immigrants, among whom incomes below the median are more common for younger age groups. Persons who immigrated during the 1986-1995 period occupy a middle ground.

In all age and gender groups except women and men 65 years old and over, the proportion of persons with income below the overall median is higher among recent immigrants than among the Canadian-born. This difference is most pronounced for people of working age, from 25 to 64 years old.

Nearly four out of ten immigrants who landed between 1996 and 1999 have low incomes or live in families with low income—that is, income below one-half of the median. This share is nearly three times as large as for the Canadian-born. The difference in the incidence of low income between very recent immigrants and the Canadian-born is smallest for seniors. Recently immigrated female seniors are less likely than their male counterparts to have low income.

Table E-7: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born — family or individual income below the median, by age and gender, Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, 2000 (number and percentage)
  Under 15 years 15 to 24 years 25 to 64 years 65 years and over Total
Women
Canadian-born 66,970 37,120 110,470 40,960 255,510
Immigrants 13,600 22,890 128,270 37,890 202,600
 Immigrated before 1986 - 1,580 44,960 29,440 75,940
 Immigrated 1986-1995 5,090 12,790 52,170 6,780 76,820
 Immigrated 1996-1999 8,510 8,530 31,140 1,670 49,840
Men
Canadian-born 70,840 34,230 103,270 28,700 237,030
Immigrants 14,530 24,110 106,910 31,540 177,080
 Immigrated before 1986 - 1,620 39,230 24,040 64,870
 Immigrated 1986-1995 5,430 14,150 42,170 6,190 67,940
 Immigrated 1996-1999 9,100 8,340 25,520 1,310 44,270
Total
Canadian-born 137,800 71,350 213,740 69,660 492,540
Immigrants 28,120 47,000 235,180 69,420 379,670
 Immigrated before 1986 - 3,200 84,190 53,470 140,810
 Immigrated 1986-1995 10,520 26,940 94,340 12,970 144,760
 Immigrated 1996-1999 17,610 16,870 56,650 2,980 94,110
 
Women
Canadian-born 47% 42% 36% 63% 43%
Immigrants 72% 67% 51% 62% 56%
 Immigrated before 1986 - 48% 38% 64% 46%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 65% 64% 58% 57% 59%
 Immigrated 1996-1999 77% 76% 73% 59% 73%
Men
Canadian-born 47% 38% 34% 60% 40%
Immigrants 73% 65% 48% 60% 53%
 Immigrated before 1986 - 43% 35% 61% 42%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 65% 64% 56% 58% 58%
 Immigrated 1996-1999 79% 76% 71% 59% 73%
Total
Canadian-born 47% 40% 35% 62% 41%
Immigrants 72% 66% 50% 61% 54%
 Immigrated before 1986 - 45% 37% 62% 44%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 65% 64% 57% 57% 59%
 Immigrated 1996-1999 78% 76% 72% 59% 73%

Note: Incomes are for the year 2000. In all tables in Part E, immigrants and very recent immigrants include only those who landed before the year 2000 and could have had income the entire year. For a definition of median income and details about the calculations, see the Glossary.

Table E-8: Immigrants by period of immigration and Canadian-born — family or individual income below one-half of the median, by age and gender, Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area, 2000 (number and percentage)
  Under 15 years 15 to 24 years 25 to 64 years 65 years and over Total
Women
Canadian-born 22,690 15,140 39,720 11,900 89,420
Immigrants 6,930 11,940 54,160 14,580 87,590
 Immigrated before 1986 - 770 15,640 11,030 27,430
 Immigrated 1986-1995 2,260 6,390 22,230 2,820 33,690
 Immigrated 1996-1999 4,670 4,790 16,300 730 26,480
Men
Canadian-born 24,100 13,100 36,660 8,930 82,780
Immigrants 7,260 12,570 43,150 12,860 75,800
 Immigrated before 1986 - 650 12,750 9,320 22,700
 Immigrated 1986-1995 2,410 7,040 17,290 2,820 29,540
 Immigrated 1996-1999 4,860 4,880 13,110 720 23,560
Total
Canadian-born 46,790 28,240 76,380 20,830 172,200
Immigrants 14,190 24,510 97,310 27,430 163,380
 Immigrated before 1986 - 1,420 28,390 20,350 50,130
 Immigrated 1986-1995 4,660 13,430 39,510 5,640 63,220
 Immigrated 1996-1999 9,530 9,670 29,410 1,450 50,040
 
Women
Canadian-born 16% 17% 13% 18% 15%
Immigrants 37% 35% 22% 24% 24%
 Immigrated before 1986 - 23% 13% 24% 16%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 29% 32% 25% 24% 26%
 Immigrated 1996-1999 42% 43% 38% 26% 39%
Men
Canadian-born 16% 14% 12% 19% 14%
Immigrants 36% 34% 19% 24% 23%
 Immigrated before 1986 - 17% 11% 24% 15%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 29% 32% 23% 26% 25%
 Immigrated 1996-1999 42% 44% 37% 32% 39%
Total
Canadian-born 16% 16% 12% 19% 14%
Immigrants 37% 34% 21% 24% 23%
 Immigrated before 1986 - 20% 12% 24% 16%
 Immigrated 1986-1995 29% 32% 24% 25% 26%
 Immigrated 1996-1999 42% 44% 37% 29% 39%

Note: Incomes are for the year 2000. In all tables in Part E, immigrants and very recent immigrants include only those who landed before the year 2000 and could have had income the entire year. For a definition of median income and details about the calculations, see the Glossary.

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