World Values Survey (Canada) Immigrant and native born respondent comparisons

4. Immigration and citizenship

What about respondents' views about immigration, citizenship, and diversity? Some WVS questions ask respondents about how much importance they attach to three different requirements for citizenship: Having relatives in Canada, abiding by Canadian laws, and adopting Canada's customs. Figure 4-1 to Figure 4-3 and Table 4-1 to Table 4-3 show the basic distributions for each of the three groups is similar. Less than half of all respondents in each group think that having relatives in Canada is an important requirement for citizenship. By contrast, over 90 percent of respondents report that abiding by Canadian laws is a "very important" requisite for obtaining citizenship.

When it comes to adopting Canada's customs (Figure 4-3), however, there are truly striking differences between Canadian Born, earlier immigrant and recent immigrant respondents. Over 60 percent of Canadian born respondents, compared to 50 percent of earlier immigrant respondents, and one third of recent immigrant respondents, thought it was "very important" for new citizens to adopt the customs of Canada. Recent immigrants are about half as likely as their counterparts to think that adopting Canadian customs is an important requirement for citizenship.

Question: In your opinion, how important should the following be as requirements for somebody seeking citizenship of your country? Specify for each requirement if you consider it as very important, rather important, or not important having relatives in Canada.

Table 4-1: Having relatives in Canada as requirement for citizenship
  Canadian Born Earlier Immigrants Recent Immigrants
Very important 19.3% 21.6% 22.8%
Rather important 29.2% 28.9% 21.4%
Not important 51.5% 49.5% 55.8%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
  (n=1,733) (n=291) (n=570)

N = 2,594
Source: 2006 World Values Survey

Figure 4-1: Having relatives in Canada as requirement for citizenship

Figure 4-1: Having relatives in Canada as requirement for citizenship
Text version: Having relatives in Canada as requirement for citizenship
  Not important Rather important Very important
Canadian Born 51.5% 29.2% 19.3%
Earlier Immigrants 49.5% 28.9% 21.6%
Recent Immigrants 55.8% 21.4% 22.8%

Source: 2006 World Values Survey
N=2,594

Question: In your opinion, how important should the following be as requirements for somebody seeking citizenship of your country? Specify for each requirement if you consider it as very important, rather important, or not important abiding by Canadian laws.

Table 4-2: Abiding by Canadian laws as requirement for citizenship
  Canadian Born Earlier Immigrants Recent Immigrants
Very important 95.7% 93.2% 90.7%
Rather important 4.2% 6.1% 9.1%
Not important 0.2% 0.7% 0.2%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
  (n=1,758) (n=295) (n=569)

N = 2,622
Source: 2006 World Values Survey

Figure 4-2: Abiding by Canadian laws as requirement for citizenship

Figure 4-2: Abiding by Canadian laws as requirement for citizenship
Text version: Abiding by Canadian laws as requirement for citizenship
  Not important Rather important Very important
Canadian Born 0.2% 4.2% 95.7%
Earlier Immigrants 0.7% 6.1% 93.2%
Recent Immigrants 0.2% 9.1% 90.7%

Source: 2006 World Values Survey
N=2,622

Question: In your opinion, how important should the following be as requirements for somebody seeking citizenship of your country? Specify for each requirement if you consider it as very important, rather important, or not important adopting Canada’s customs.

Table 4-3: Adopting Canada's customs as requirement for citizenship
  Canadian Born Earlier Immigrants Recent Immigrants
Very important 60.3% 50.5% 32.9%
Rather important 29.4% 40.2% 47.3%
Not important 10.4% 9.3% 19.8%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
  (n=1,739) (n=291) (n=566)

N = 2,596
Source: 2006 World Values Survey

Figure 4-3: Adopting Canada's customs as requirement for citizenship

Figure 4-3: Adopting Canada's customs as requirement for citizenship
Text version: Adopting Canada's customs as requirement for citizenship
  Not important Rather important Very important
Canadian Born 10.4% 29.4% 60.3%
Earlier Immigrants 9.3% 40.2% 50.5%
Recent Immigrants 19.8% 47.3% 32.9%

Source: 2006 World Values Survey
N=2,596

That native born Canadians attach importance to citizens adopting Canadian customs, could well reflect broader views about cultural diversity.

The WVS asks two questions which allow us to investigate this issue in greater detail. First, respondents were presented with two statements and asked to rate (1-10) which came closest to their own views. Statement #1 reads: "Cultural diversity undermines Canadian unity" (1). And statement #2 reads: "Cultural diversity enriches life in Canada" (10). A score of 8 or higher on the ten-point scale signifies strong support for the idea that cultural diversity enriches society.

Clearly, recent immigrants are the most likely to feel strongly that cultural diversity enriches life in Canada. As Figure 4-4 shows, over 73 percent strongly agree with the statement compared to 65 percent of earlier immigrants, and about half (49 percent) of Canadian born respondents.

Figure 4-4: Cultural diversity enriches life in Canada

Question: Turning to the question of cultural diversity, with which of the following views do you agree? 10-point scale; 1 = cultural diversity erodes a country's unity; 10 = cultural diversity enriches life. Results reported for strong agreement of “cultural diversity enriches life” (8-10)

Figure 4-4: Cultural diversity enriches life in Canada
Text version: Cultural diversity enriches life in Canada
Canadian Born 49.2%
Recent Immigrants 65.1%
Earlier Immigrants 73.2%

Source: 2006 World Values Survey
N=2,519

This finding provides context for interpreting responses to the second question: "Do you feel that in your dealings with the government, you have been treated better than other Canadians, about the same as other Canadians, worse than other Canadians, or much worse than other Canadians?"Footnote 5

Only a small minority of respondents believe that immigrants are treated poorly (Figure 4-5). The striking finding here is that Canadian born respondents are almost 10 times more likely than recent immigrants (and twice as likely as earlier immigrants) to say that the government treats immigrants better than other Canadians (Table 4-4). And significantly, recent immigrants (11.6 percent) are somewhat less likely than their earlier counterparts (22.7 percent) and Canadian born respondents (19.8 percent) to believe that they are treated worse than "other Canadians".

Question: (Asked to recent immigrants) Do you feel that in your dealings with the government, you have been treated better than other Canadians, about the same as other Canadians, worse than other Canadians, or much worse than other Canadians? / (Asked to Canadian born and earlier immigrant respondents) How do you feel immigrants are treated in Canada?

Table 4-4: How are immigrants treated
  Canadian Born Earlier Immigrants Recent Immigrants
Better than other Canadians 23.5% 10.3% 2.9%
About the same as other Canadians 56.8% 67.0% 85.5%
Worse than other Canadians 18.2% 20.2% 10.9%
Much worse than other Canadians 1.6% 2.5% 0.7%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
  (n=1,667) (n=282) (n=560)

N = 2,509
Source: 2006 World Values Survey

Figure 4-5: How are immigrants treated

Question: (Asked of recent immigrants only) Do you feel that in your dealings with the government, you have been treated better than other Canadians, about the same as other Canadians, worse than other Canadians, or much worse than other Canadians? / (Asked of Canadian born and early immigrant respondents only) How do you feel immigrants are treated in Canada?

Figure 4-5: How are immigrants treated
Text version: How are immigrants treated
  Worse Same Better
Canadian Born 19.8% 56.8% 23.5%
Earlier Immigrants 22.7% 67.0% 10.3%
Recent Immigrants 11.6% 85.5% 2.9%

Source: 2006 World Values Survey
N=2,509

These opinions about cultural diversity and immigrant treatment may be related to views on immigration policy. Immigrants are much more favourable to liberal immigration policies than their counterparts. The WVS asks respondents: "When it comes to people from other countries coming to work, which do you think the government should do?" Of the four choices available, Table 4-5 shows that Canadian born respondents are about evenly divided. Some 46.6 percent think that the government ought to "place strict limits on the number of foreigners who can come," and 45.6 percent say that the government should "let people come as long as there are jobs available." There is virtually no difference between recent and early immigrants: About 64 percent of respondents think that the government should "let people come as long as there are jobs available." And both earlier and recent immigrants are less inclined than Canadian born respondents to want the government to "place strict limits" on foreign workers.

Question: When it comes to people form other countries coming to work, which do you think the government should do?

Table 4-5: Government policy for foreign workers
  Canadian Born Earlier Immigrants Recent Immigrants
Let anyone come who wants to 5.5% 10.7% 8.7%
Let people come as long as there are jobs available 45.6% 64.3% 63.6%
Place strict limits on the number of foreigners who can come 46.6% 24.3% 27.1%
Prohibit people coming here from other countries 2.3% 0.7% 0.5%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
  (n=1,714) (n=280) (n=561)

N = 2,555
Source: 2006 World Values Survey

Are positive views towards cultural diversity related to positive views about the immigration process? The short answer is yes: Across the entire sample, those who think that cultural diversity enriches Canada are significantly less likely to believe that adopting the country's customs is very important for citizenship (r=-.188; p<.01). They are also less likely to think that immigrants are treated better than other Canadians (r=-.250; p<.01). And they are less likely to agree that strict limits should be placed on immigration numbers (r=-.170; p<.01).Footnote 6

Feelings about cultural diversity may also be related to levels of general tolerance. The general principle of tolerance has wide support in Canada, but people do not necessarily apply the principle to "all spheres in equal measure" (Nevitte, 1996).

The WVS asks respondents questions that allow us to examine specific types of tolerance. It invites respondents to identify from a list any groups that "you would not like to have as neighbours." (Table 4-6) Factor analysis shows that responses consistently cluster along two dimensions: The first dimension might be labeled social intolerance; it includes not wanting to have as neighbours drug addicts, people with AIDS, heavy drinkers, homosexuals, and unmarried couples living together. The second dimension, perhaps, captures cultural intolerance: not wanting to have as neighbours people of a different religion, immigrants, people who speak a different language, and Muslims.

Question: On this card are various groups of people. Could you please read out any that you would not like to have as neighbours?

Table 4-6: Undesirable neighbours
  Percent Mentioned  
Group Canadian Born Earlier Immigrants Recent Immigrants N
Drug addicts 80.8% 83.6% 91.4% 2,603
People who have AIDS 11.7% 13.1% 27.6% 2,543
Heavy drinkers 61.3% 69.2% 80.6% 2,597
Homosexuals 13.3% 21.2% 33.9% 2,548
Unmarried couples living together 2.8% 5.3% 8.8% 2,544
People of a different race 3.0% 2.5% 3.0% 2,541
People of a different religion 2.5% 2.8% 2.7% 2,539
Immigrants 4.8% 2.5% 1.8% 2,535
People who speak a different language 3.7% 2.8% 3.0% 2,545
Muslims 12.9% 8.0% 10.3% 2,529

Source: 2006 World Values Survey

The data show that very few Canadians, immigrants or non-immigrants, are particularly intolerant along the cultural dimension. Of the groups in the cultural dimension, only Muslims exceed 10 percent as an unwanted outgroup (12.9 percent for Canadian born, 8.0 percent for earlier immigrants and 10.3 percent for recent immigrants).

There are much larger differences along the social dimension. Over 90 percent of recent immigrants do not want drug addicts as neighbours, compared to just over 80 percent for Canadian born and earlier immigrants. The difference is even more pronounced for heavy drinkers. While only 31.3 percent of Canadian born respondents did not want heavy drinkers as neighbours, 69.2 percent of earlier immigrants and 80.6 percent of recent immigrants see heavy drinkers as undesirable. The same goes for homosexuals: while only 13.3 percent of Canadian born and 21.2 percent of earlier immigrants picked homosexuals as an unwanted group, 33.9 percent of recent immigrants identified homosexuals as a group they would not like to have as a neighbour.

It appears, then, that although immigrants, are more likely to support cultural diversity, those feelings do not necessarily translate into tolerance at all levels. Indeed, recent immigrants appear to be less socially tolerant than others.

But if Canadians are generally tolerant people, why are Canadian born respondents less likely to have favourable views about cultural diversity? A somewhat more nuanced explanation might be that attitudes towards outgroups, and cultural diversity more generally, are affected by perceptions of economic vulnerability (Cochrane and Nevitte, 2007). This "ethnic competition hypothesis" argues that the competition for scarce resources increases intergroup conflict; prejudice towards outgroups increases when majority groups perceive competition in the labour market as coming from immigrant minorities (Burns and Gimpel, 2000). And as Citrin et. al. (1997) observe, even the perception of a general economic downturn, rather than any personal economic hardship, can affect views about immigration and diversity.

The economic competition hypothesis can be tested using both subjective and objective variables. The perception of economic hardship can be regressed using indicators of overall financial satisfaction and life satisfactionFootnote 7. Life satisfaction, in particular, can be included to measure perceptions of a general threat which, according to the ethnic competition hypothesis, could be blamed on immigrant minorities (McLaren, 2003). Objective measures of economic security include: total household income and current employment status.

Another possibility is that views about cultural diversity may also be related to structural factors. Previous research clearly shows that levels of tolerance are strongly related both to education attainment and age (Nevitte, 1996). The young and better educated tend to be more tolerant than those who are older and less educated.

The OLS regression results reported in Table 4.7 tests the economic security and education hypotheses; attitudes towards cultural diversity are the dependent variable.

Table 4-7: Determinants of support for cultural diversity
  Canadian Born Earlier Immigrants Recent Immigrants
B S.E. B S.E. B S.E.
Education .137 at p < .01 .035 .025 .085 .323 at p < .01 .108
Age .001 .049 -.086 .123 .399 at p < .01 .117
Low Income .027 .032 .044 .078 .044 .043
Employed Part Time -.053 .044 -.085 .106 .060 .060
Unemployed -.060 .047 -.103 .124 -.038 .055
Life Satisfaction .161 at p < .05 .075 .369 .202 .201 .125
Financial Satisfaction .041 .062 .211 .171 .096 .103
Constant .260 at p < .01 .072 .253 .190 .072 .140
Adjusted R2 .015   .018   .044  
N 1,410   233   477  

Source: 2006 World Values Survey

The results of the analysis show that support for cultural diversity among Canadian born respondents is predicted primarily by educational attainment and levels of life satisfaction: Those with higher education and higher levels of life satisfaction than other Canadian born respondents are more likely to support cultural diversity in Canada. Objective measures of economic hardship, such as low income and employment status, are not significant. At least for Canadian born respondents, support for cultural diversity is explained by subjective evaluations of life in general.

For earlier immigrants, no single variable in the regression was found to be significant. Neither the economic competition hypothesis nor structural explanations predict how earlier immigrants feel about cultural diversity.

Among recent immigrants, the significant predictors of support for cultural diversity are educational attainment and age. Recent immigrants with higher levels of education than other newcomers are more likely to support cultural diversity. But intriguingly it is older, not younger, recent immigrants who are more likely to support cultural diversity.

4.1. Identity

Results presented earlier compare levels of national pride between the three groups. 71.1 percent of those born in Canada, 69.6 percent of earlier immigrants, and 52.2 percent of recent immigrants said they felt "very proud" to be Canadian (Table 2-13). Are those variations related to the levels of peoples' attachments? Some people identify primarily with their province, others identify primarily with their local community. Yet other respondents see themselves as world citizens.

There is no particular reason to suppose that those who identify primarily with their local community, or province, will necessarily exhibit lower levels of national pride. Though it might be argued that immigrants, socialized in other national settings, might adopt more cosmopolitan outlooks.

All respondents were asked whether they strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree with the statement: "I see myself as…a citizen of the world/a citizen of North America/a citizen of Canada as a whole/a citizen of my province or region/a member of my local community".

The results, summarized in Table 4-8 to Table 4-12, indicate that recent immigrants are less likely than earlier immigrants and Canadian born respondents to "strongly agree" with any particular communal identity, with the exception of identifying as a world citizen. For all three groups, respondents are most inclined to strongly identify as a citizen of Canada and least likely to identify as a citizen of North America (Figure 4-6), again with the exception of the "world citizen" identity.

Question: People have different views about themselves and how they relate to the world. Would you tell me how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about how you see yourself
I see myself as a member of my local community.

Table 4-8: I see myself as a…member of my local community
  Canadian Born Earlier Immigrants Recent Immigrants
Strongly agree 33.6% 31.6% 19.9%
Agree 57.9% 56.1% 67.0%
Disagree 7.9% 11.9% 12.1%
Strongly disagree 0.7% 0.3% 1.1%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
  (n=1,756) (n=294) (n=564)

N = 2,614
Source: 2006 World Values Survey

Question: People have different views about themselves and how they relate to the world. Would you tell me how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about how you see yourself
I see myself as a citizen of my province or region.

Table 4-9: I see myself as a…citizen of my province
  Canadian Born Earlier Immigrants Recent Immigrants
Strongly agree 41.9% 36.0% 26.1%
Agree 56.2% 56.9% 64.3%
Disagree 1.8% 6.7% 8.5%
Strongly disagree 0.1% 0.3% 1.1%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
  (n=1,754) (n=297) (n=566)

N = 2,617
Source: 2006 World Values Survey

Question: People have different views about themselves and how they relate to the world. Would you tell me how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about how you see yourself
I see myself as a citizen of Canada as a whole.

Table 4-10: I see myself as a…citizen of Canada as a whole
  Canadian Born Earlier Immigrants Recent Immigrants
Strongly agree 44.8% 48.1% 38.2%
Agree 51.8% 48.1% 57.2%
Disagree 3.0% 3.4% 3.9%
Strongly disagree 0.4% 0.3% 0.7%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
  (n=1,758) (n=295) (n=565)

N = 2,618
Source: 2006 World Values Survey

Question: People have different views about themselves and how they relate to the world. Would you tell me how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about how you see yourself
I see myself as a citizen of North America.

Table 4-11: I see myself as a citizen of…North America
  Canadian Born Earlier Immigrants Recent Immigrants
Strongly agree 26.5% 26.8% 16.0%
Agree 57.9% 53.6% 59.4%
Disagree 13.5% 16.5% 21.7%
Strongly disagree 2.0% 3.1% 2.9%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
  (n=1,744) (n=291) (n=557)

N = 2,592
Source: 2006 World Values Survey

Question: People have different views about themselves and how they relate to the world. Would you tell me how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about how you see yourself I see myself as a world citizen.

Table 4-12: I See Myself as a…World Citizen
  Canadian Born Earlier Immigrants Recent Immigrants
Strongly agree 30.6% 31.8% 34.5%
Agree 55.5% 56.4% 51.9%
Disagree 12.1% 9.3% 13.3%
Strongly disagree 1.8% 2.4% 0.4%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
  (n=1,729) (n=289) (n=565)

N = 2,583
Source: 2006 World Values Survey

Figure 4-6: Strongly agree with communal identities.

Question: Would you tell me how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? I see myself as…a member of my local community / as a citizen of my province or region / as a citizen of Canada as a whole / as a citizen of North America / as a world citizen. Strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree. Results reported are for responses of "strongly agree".

Figure 4-6: Strongly agree with communal identities
Text version: Strongly agree with communal identities
  Canadian Born Earlier Immigrants Recent Immigrants
Local Community 33.6% 31.6% 19.9%
Province 41.9% 36.0% 26.1%
Canada 44.8% 48.1% 38.2%
North America 26.5% 26.8% 16.0%
World 30.6% 31.8% 34.5%

Source: 2006 World Values Survey

It comes as little surprise to discover that recent immigrants do not have the same level of strong attachments to communal identities as those who have been in the country longer. The relationship between national pride and identification with "Canada as a whole" is positive and statistically significant (r = .243; p < .01). It is also understandable that recent immigrants are more likely than their counterparts to strongly identify as a citizen of the world.

However, there is evidence that the longer an individual lives in the new host country, the stronger the communal identities will become. Earlier immigrants are more similar to Canadian born respondents than recent immigrants.

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