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1The flow of legal immigrants to Quebec was about 30,000 per year in the middle of the 1990s, relative to a population of seven million. If this were on the scale of the population of France, it would represent close to 250,000 immigrants annually, more than twice the actual number. The issue of integration of immigrants is thus of great importance for Quebec, all the more so in that the Canadian province is subject to a specific “competition”: the attractiveness exercised by the rest of Canada, for economic and linguistic reasons, as much on foreigners who envisage immigrating to Canada as on those who have already come to Quebec. Victor Piché, Jean Renaud and Lucie Gingras present results of a longitudinal survey done with a sample of immigrants from the beginning of the 1990s. They conclude that in addition to the level of education and job qualifications, the country of origin remains an important determinant of success in integration, probably due to labour market discrimination. Especially penalised are migrants who come from North Africa, from the Middle East, Asia and South America.

2The economic integration of immigrants in the receiving society constitutes an essential dimension of the general process of assimilation. In most studies, the characteristics of immigrants are derived from cross-sectional data collected in censuses and sometimes in surveys. Moreover, the usual approach compares immigrants and natives, with the objective of examining to what degree the immigrants succeed in integrating themselves as well as the natives into the labour market. While the results of these studies show that on average immigrants succeed as well as natives, and sometimes even better, they also indicate that the situation varies a great deal according to the group of immigrants. The latter issue is the subject of this article.

3More specifically, we examine here the differential process of integration into the Montreal labour market as a function of the national origin of immigrants who arrived in Montreal during 1989. We consider two aspects of economic integration: (1) access to a first job, and (2) the ability to remain in the labour market during the first 18 months. We use longitudinal data, and this allows us to follow individuals from the time of their arrival in Quebec Province and to identify the factors associated with these two aspects of economic integration.

4The central hypothesis of our research is that national origin constitutes one of the determining factors of economic integration. In the absence of precise information about each country of origin, the variable “national origin” (defined here as the country of birth) captures several dimensions of which the most important is the level of economic and social development (Borjas, 1994). We think that controlling for socioeconomic characteristics, certain groups of immigrants will find it more difficult than others to enter the labour market and to remain employed. A number of studies have shown such intergroup inequalities both in North America and in Europe. In the United States, for example, recent studies have documented the socioeconomic stratification of immigrant groups according to their region of origin, with European immigrant at the top of the hierarchy and non-Europeans at the bottom (Poston, 1994). Particular studies have singled out as the most disadvantaged groups those from Latin America recent immigrants — especially those coming from the Third World — and Mexicans (Portes and Rumbaut, 1990; Lalonde and Topel, 1992; Borjas, 1994). Similar results are observed in Canada, where the study of ethnic stratification has a long tradition. More specifically, immigrants from Asia and from sub-Saharan Africa are found on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic scale, and this is the case even after taking into account their human capital (Richmond, 1992; DeSilva, 1992; Bloom, Grenier and Gunderson, 1994; Pendakur and Pendakur, 1998). For Quebec too, several studies conclude that the national origin of both male and female immigrants plays an important role: essentially the same groups as for the rest of Canada are found at the bottom of the hierarchy (Ledoyen, 1992; Caldwell, 1994; Piché and Bélanger, 1995). In Europe, this type of study is less common. In France, however, certain recent studies based on the Geographic Mobility and Social Integration Survey indicate also that country of origin is a significant factor (Tribalat, 1996). There exists a sharp contrast between the employment histories of three groups: immigrants from Spain and Portugal are the least vulnerable in the labour market; immigrants from Algeria, Morocco or Turkey occupy an intermediate position; and immigrants from Southeast Asia or sub-Saharan Africa are the most vulnerable (Dayan, Échardour and Glaude, 1997).

5Our research differs from previous studies in three important ways. First, it is based on longitudinal data. We follow a cohort of immigrants who arrived in Quebec Province during 1989 and examine the performance of its members in the Montreal labour market. Second, economic integration is operationalised 1) by the access to a job and 2) by the number of weeks spent working. These two indicators involve the temporal dimension, that can only be investigated with longitudinal data. A third difference in our approach is that the explanatory model proposed here includes several control variables that have not always been taken into account simultaneously in other studies. Specifically, the relationship between national origin and economic integration is mediated by several variables that differentiate the labour market, and should be taken into account in any comparison between immigrant groups (Piché, 1997). These variables include demographic characteristics (age and sex) and human capital (duration of schooling, knowledge of languages, previous work experience). Since the cohort of immigrants arrived in Montreal in the same year, we must by definition take into account both the length of stay, a critical variable (Goldlust and Richmond, 1974), and the state of the labour market (all the immigrants confronted the same market, that of Montreal, during the same period). If differences between immigrant groups persist after these intermediate variables are taken into account — our research hypothesis — we will be able to conclude that national origin plays an important role in the process of integration.

I – Circumstances of arrival of the new immigrants in Montreal

6The immigrants studied here all arrived in Montreal in 1989, in a context of strong growth of immigration to Quebec Province (Figure 1). Indeed, similar levels of immigration had not been observed since the late 1960s. The recent increase began in the middle of the 1980s and peaked in 1991 with the arrival of more than 51,000 immigrants. In 1989, 34,334 immigrants were admitted to Quebec, representing a 32% increase over 1988. Since the great majority of the immigrants were admitted to the greater Montreal region [1], their integration takes place in this large city of Quebec Province.

Figure 1

Immigrants admitted to Quebec between 1945 and 1997

Figure 1

Immigrants admitted to Quebec between 1945 and 1997

Source: CIC (Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration of Canada).

7From where did the immigrants to Quebec Province and to Montreal come during the late 1980s? It is well known that for several decades, immigrants from European countries have been much less numerous and have been replaced by immigrants from developing countries. In 1989, only one country from Western Europe, France with a share of 4.2%, ranked among the ten most important countries of origin (Figure 2). The other immigrants came from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean or Eastern Europe, and most notably from Lebanon (12.1%), Haiti (6.7%) and Vietnam (3.6%). For these last three countries and France, the number of cases in the survey data base is sufficiently large for separate analysis.

Figure 2

Ten principal countries of birth, immigrants aged 18 and over, 1989, Montreal Metropolitan Census Region (percentage distribution)

Figure 2

Ten principal countries of birth, immigrants aged 18 and over, 1989, Montreal Metropolitan Census Region (percentage distribution)

Source: CIC (Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration of Canada).

8While immigration was increasing at the end of the 1980s, the economy was not flourishing, as is apparent from the unemployment rates plotted in Figure 3. The years 1989-1992, corresponding to the period of observation of our cohort, were years when unemployment was growing in Montreal. Similarly, the index of job opportunities [2] was going down during the same period. Thus, the new arrivals of that period confronted a difficult labour market [3].

Figure 3

Unemployment rate in the Montreal Metropolitan Census Region, 1980-1992

Figure 3

Unemployment rate in the Montreal Metropolitan Census Region, 1980-1992

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour force statistics, 1992.

9Since the 1978 agreement with the federal government, Quebec Province sets the rules with respect to the volume of migration and the criteria of selection while admission itself remains under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Quebec recognises the general principles of Canadian immigration policy, which are: 1) selection without discrimination; 2) priority to family reunification; and 3) the importance of humanitarian considerations (Manègre, 1993, 5). While subscribing to these principles, Quebec has constructed its own specific point system (“grille”) for the selection of immigrants, so as to meet the objective of “… assuring that immigration is in fact an instrument of development of the distinct Quebec specificity in North America” (MCCI, 1989, B1). Quebec’s immigration policy thus has not only economic and demographic objectives, but also seeks to promote integration of immigrants into the Francophone group, with this last objective being sought through special admission criteria. Concretely, immigrants are admitted to Quebec under three administrative categories, corresponding to the three broad principles cited above: “family”, “refugees” and “independents” [4].

10The “family” category consists of close relatives, including spouses, dependent children, parents and grandparents. The selection criteria do not apply to these immigrants, except for a medical exam and security check.

11The “refugees and persons in distress” category includes refugees in the sense of the Geneva Convention and individuals belonging to a category called persons in distress.

12Immigrants in the category “independents” are specifically targeted along the objectives of Quebec’s immigration policy, since they are fully subject to the selection criteria, based on a point system awarded for the following characteristics: educational attainment, specific vocational training, adaptability (personal qualities, motivation, knowledge of Quebec), the possession of professional skills in high demand in Canada, work experience, age, knowledge of French and English and the presence of relatives or friends in Quebec (MCCI, 1989, pp. 10-16). Bonus points are awarded for the knowledge of French (over and above points awarded for knowledge of official languages), the occupation of the spouse and the presence of young children.

13Thus, it appears that human capital will play a determining role in the admission of a large share of immigrants to Quebec Province, those who are admitted as “independents”.

II – Methodology

14The data used here are from the longitudinal survey on the Settlement of New Immigrants (ENI), for which the first three rounds were completed in 1990, 1991 and 1992. This survey follows a sample of the cohort of adult immigrants who entered Canada in 1989, visa in hand, with Quebec as the province of destination, and were residing in the greater Montreal area towards the end of the first year of their stay. A thousand face-to-face interviews were conducted in 24 languages, after an average duration of residence in Canada of 43 weeks (that is, in 1990) [5]. A second round of interviews was realised at the end of the second year (in 1991), with 729 immigrants being re-interviewed. Finally, at the end of the third year (in 1992), a last round of interviews took place involving 508 immigrants [6].

15It will be noted that the survey experienced attrition at each successive round. The sampling losses were analysed in detail for each round of the survey, in order to detect any distortion in relationship to the population being studied. Among the approximately 1,880 immigrants who had agreed to be interviewed, 1,000 actually did participate in the first round [7]. The results of the analyses [8] of the quality of the sample indicate that this sample is indeed representative of immigrants aged 18 and over who arrived between mid-June and November 1989 with a visa obtained abroad and were admitted in one of the three immigration categories (refugee, independent or family). The following year, that is, two years after their arrival, 271 immigrants did not respond to the questionnaire for the second round. There again, the loss observed between the first and the second round had little effect on the sample quality, according to the analyses that were undertaken [9]: the modest changes observed in the composition of the sample reflect a redefinition of the population being studied, and the sample is not biased to the extent that one is interested in immigrants still remaining in Quebec. For the third wave, an additional 221 immigrants did not participate in the survey. Some small changes in the sample between the second and the third rounds are evident. We are probably facing the onset of bias but at the same time, there appears to be a dynamic redefinition of the population under study, as part of it has left Quebec before the third round. What matters for the present study is that the impact of sample attrition on the analysis of access to a first job is minimal, if we consider that the group at risk is made up of the 1,000 respondents from the first round (one year after their arrival). The work history of all these people is known during their first year in Montreal. If individuals have gained employment during this period, they will figure in the computation of probabilities, even if they subsequently leave Quebec Province. The same is true for those people present for the second round of the survey but absent at the third [10]. We use Cox’ s survival model in this analysis.

16One of the unique aspects of the questionnaire for this survey is the use of a calendar to inventory and date (to the nearest week) all the episodes experienced by the respondent and his or her spouse in the areas of employment, non-employment, education and residence. The questionnaire for the first round also includes a large section on characteristics before migration. Additional information was taken from the administrative visa file and combined with data from the survey in order to obtain, among other things, the detailed category of admission and knowledge of French and English before arriving in Canada. The systematic presence of dated information allows the study of the dynamics of settlement and the unfolding of biographical trajectories. For example, all employment episodes are known with their starting and ending dates, title, occupational status, sector of activity, salary, number of hours worked, etc.

17Initially, we are interested in the process that leads to the labour market, because it is an important stage in becoming economically integrated. What is involved here is measuring the time required to find a first job, time being an indicator of the speed of integration of the immigrant. Any gainful employment, salaried or autonomous, full time or part time, and of whatever duration, is included. This broad definition of employment allows us to identify those individuals capable of being integrated into the Quebec labour market; it is, after a fashion, an indicator of employability. We should emphasize, however, that these first jobs last fairly long as a rule (see Table 3).

18For the first job, two statistical tools are used to measure the time to a first job on one hand and the effect of different explanatory variables on this access to employment on the other. The first tool consists of tables of survival in a given state, the state of non-employment in this case. These tables allow one to estimate the number of individuals exposed to the risk of an event (for example, the first job) for each time period (here, a week). In the case at hand, the individuals exposed to the “risk” of securing a first job are all of the respondents to the survey. Observation begins with the arrival in Quebec (point 0 on the time scale) and continues as long as the event (employment) is not experienced and the individual has not left the observation period of three years (which is an instance of truncation on the right). The estimator of the survival function (known as the Kaplan-Meier index) can be likened to the probability of experiencing the event in each time interval, while taking account of the censoring on the right. The graphic representation of this survival table plots the proportion of “survivors” in the state of non-employment at the end of each week on the horizontal axis.

19The second statistical method used is the semi-parametric method of Cox, which combines two types of analyses, survival tables and regression [11]. Survival tables alone do not allow measurement of the combined influence of several explanatory factors. The Cox model, however, allows the computation of the net effect of the explanatory variables on the risk of experiencing an event. The coefficient calculated for each variable measures the average influence of this variable on the weekly chances of obtaining a first job. The coefficients presented in the regression tables are odds ratios; a ratio above 1 indicates that the variable increases the chances of finding a first job and a ratio less than one, that it diminishes those chances. One of the characteristics of the semi-parametric model is that it allows the introduction, in addition to the fixed independent variables (characteristics that do not change, for example the level of schooling at arrival), of time-varying variables such as those relating to training in progress, which indicate, for each time period considered, whether or not the respondent is taking a course of some kind.

20We present six regression models on access to a first job (see Table 1). The first model indicates the gross effect of the principal variable, “national origin”, and the others allow us to see whether the effect of this variable persists after the successive introduction of fixed control variables (sex, age group, duration of schooling, knowledge of the official languages at arrival, work experience prior to migration, the fact of having an affidavit of employment at arrival and the immigration category) and time-varying explanatory variables (training subsequent to migration). Finally, a last model adds in interaction terms between educational attainment and national origin. If one of these terms is significant, that will indicate that there exists a differential recognition of schooling, depending on the national origin of the immigrants.

Table 1

Variables used in the analyses of access to first job and number of weeks worked

Table 1
Variable Type Categories or units of measurement Reference category Access to first job Weeks worked National origin (region or country of birth) Fixed Sub-Saharan Africa Remainder of Europe and North America × × Lebanon × × Middle East and North Africa × × Vietnam × × South Asia, East Asia and Pacific × × Haiti × × South America and the Caribbean × × Eastern Europe × × France × × Sex Fixed Male Female × × Age at arrival Fixed 18-25 years 41 years and older × × 26-40 years × × Immigration category Fixed Family Refugee × × Independent × × Pre-migration schooling Fixed; continuous Years – × × Knowledge of official languages at arrival Fixed Knowledge of French No knowledge of official languages × × Knowledge of English × × Pre-migration work experience Fixed Yes No × × Affidavit of employment at arrival Fixed Yes No × Training in progress (attending courses each week: 0=no, 1=yes) Time-varying IOTC(1), full time No training courses in progress × Other, full time × Other, part time ×
Table 1
Quebec diploma (respondent has successfully completed a course: 0=no; 1=yes) Time-varying Regular program, full-time No courses completed × Occupational program and other, full time × IOTC, full time × French course/English course/IOTC, part time × Occupational program and other, part time × Weeks of full-time training, regular program Fixed; continuous Weeks – × Weeks of full-time training, IOTC Fixed; continuous Weeks – × Weeks of full-time training, other program Fixed; continuous Weeks – × (1) IOTC: Immigrant Orientation and Training Center.

Variables used in the analyses of access to first job and number of weeks worked

21The second indicator analysed captures the capacity to maintain oneself in the labour market, by taking account of the duration dimension of employment. The measure here is the number of weeks worked during the first 78 weeks after immigrating (that is, during the first year and a half). The choice of this reference period is dictated by the fact that attrition from the sample becomes rather important after the 78th week. Nonetheless, it is a sufficiently long period for the immigrant to have had the time to become stable in the job market. All of the weeks employed with one (or more) job(s) with 30 hours or more of work have been counted. In this type of analysis, the immigrants who did not work are not excluded; rather, they are given a value of 0 for the week.

22Since our dependent variable is quantitative but truncated at the 78th week, we use the Tobit multiple linear regression approach [12]. Three models are presented: the first shows the gross effect of the “national origin” variable, the second adds demographic and human capital variables (sex, age, duration of schooling, knowledge of the official languages at arrival, pre-migration work experience, immigration category), and the last adds variables relative to full-time training undertaken in Quebec (number of weeks spent in a regular program, in a program proposed by an Immigrant Orientation and Training Centre (IOTC), or in another program). The regression coefficients can be interpreted directly as the number of weeks worked short or in excess of the reference category.

23Ten regions or countries of origin are examined in our analyses. Indeed, the numbers in the survey do not allow us to study the countries separately (there are 80 of them in all), except for four of them: Lebanon, Haiti, France and Vietnam. We have regrouped the others in broad geographic regions [13].

24Table 2 shows the sample sizes and several characteristics of rspondents from each of these ten countries or regions of origin. The differences in knowledge of official languages and average length of schooling by sex and immigration category are sometimes substantial. Thus, for example, the Lebanese in our sample arrive primarily as independents (nearly 90%), have a good proportion who know French (66%) and English (50%), and the majority are men (62%). Their average duration of schooling is 14.1 years, which marks them as among the best educated. They are not very different from migrants originating from the broader Middle East/North Africa region. The profile of the Vietnamese immigrants, however, is quite different: while most are also men, the majority are refugees (63%), relatively few know French (13%) or English (28%) and their educational attainment is only 10.3 years on average. They are different from the nationals from South Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific who are primarily admitted as independents (64%) and whose knowledge of the English language is more widespread (44%).

Table 2

Sample size and characteristics of respondents to the ENI survey according to country/region of birth

Table 2
Country/region of birth Sample size Sex (%) Immigration category (%) Percentage who know Average years of schooling N % Female Male Independent Family Refugee French English Sub-Saharan Africa 45 4.5 35.6 64.4 48.9 17.8 31.1 57.8 42.2 13.5 Lebanon 259 25.9 38.2 61.8 89.6 9.3 – 65.6 49.8 14.1 Middle East and North Africa 160 16.0 41.2 58.8 82.5 15.6 1.3 70.6 40.6 13.7 Vietnam 67 6.7 41.8 58.2 17.9 19.4 62.7 13.4 28.4 10.3 South Asia, East Asia and Pacific 143 14.3 53.1 46.9 64.3 16.8 16.5 5.6 44.1 12.6 Haiti 60 6.0 40.0 60.0 10.0 90.0 – 46.7 8.3 10.9 South America and the Caribbean 64 6.4 40.6 59.4 59.4 28.1 12.5 17.2 21.9 13.6 Eastern Europe 54 5.4 50.0 50.0 37.0 14.8 44.4 29.6 31.5 14.3 France 73 7.3 52.1 47.9 87.7 11.0 – 91.8 39.7 15.0 Remainder of Europe and North America 72 7.2 54.2 45.8 79.2 18.1 – 36.1 58.3 12.6 Total 997 100.0 44.0 56.0 67.6 19.7 11.3 47.5 40.2 13.3 Note: Some of the totals are under 100% due to missing values. Source: Survey on the Settlement of New Immigrants (ENI) 1990-1992.

Sample size and characteristics of respondents to the ENI survey according to country/region of birth

25The Haitians, of whom 60% are men, are to a very great extent admitted in the “family” category (90%), know French (47%) but very little English (8%), and have relatively low educational attainment (10.9 years). They are clearly distinguished from migrants from South America/the Caribbean, who are for the most part independents (59%), with rather weak knowledge of French or English and longer schooling (13.6 years). A large share of Eastern Europeans are admitted as refugees (44%). Their knowledge of either official language is relatively weak but they are among the immigrants with the highest educational levels (14.3 years).

26Immigrants born in France arrive predominantly as independents (88%), nearly all speak French (92%) but many also English (40%), and they have the highest schooling of all ten groups of immigrants (15 years). Those from the broad region of the remainder of Europe/North America speak English primarily (58%), are more likely to be women (54%), are more frequently admitted as independents (79%) and have below-average schooling (12.6 years).

III – Results

1 – The first job in Quebec

27Among the 1,000 immigrants in the survey, irrespective of whether they actually looked for work, 765 found a first job during the first three years of observation (Table 3). Overall, the median duration until finding a first job was 15.5 weeks, and we estimate that 71% of the immigrants gained employment during the first year. These overall figures indicate that integration of new immigrants into the Quebec labour market is rather rapid. Moreover, the duration of these first jobs is, overall, rather long (43 weeks), and we estimate that 31% of these first jobs lasted at least two years.

Table 3

Median time of entry to, and duration of, first employment (in weeks) and proportion of those surveyed not having had a first job as of the time of survey, according to the country or region of birth

Table 3
Country/region of birth(1) Median time to first job(2) Median duration of first job(3) Percentage not having had a first job Sub-Saharan Africa 23.0 34.0 37.8 Lebanon 13.0 30.0 22.8 Middle East and North Africa 19.5 39.0 23.1 Vietnam 43.0 49.0 29.9 South Asia, East Asia and Pacific 22.0 73.0 30.1 Haiti 8.0 46.0 21.7 South America and the Caribbean 25.5 47.0 29.7 Eastern Europe 18.0 45.0 13.0 France 9.0 57.0 13.7 Remainder of Europe and North America 4.5 132.0 12.5 Total 15.5 43.0 23.5 (1) National origin is missing for three cases. (2) N = 997. (3) N = 757. Source: Survey on the Settlement of New Immigrants (ENI) 1990-1992.

Median time of entry to, and duration of, first employment (in weeks) and proportion of those surveyed not having had a first job as of the time of survey, according to the country or region of birth

28However, experience is rather different according to the various national origins. The immigrants from Western Europe and North America (other than France) are not only able to obtain a job much more rapidly than the other immigrants (median time of 4.5 weeks), but their periods of employment are among the longest (median duration of 132 weeks) and only a very small proportion didn’t find a job during the observation period (12.5%). The French rank second with a time to employment a little bit longer, and they have a shorter duration of employment. The Haitians, half of whom find employment within eight weeks, appear to be somewhat of an exception among those from developing countries, who all take more time to obtain a first job. The percentage of Haitians who did not find employment during the observation period (22%) is in fact the lowest among the immigrants from developing countries (Table 3 and Figure 4). The Lebanese also rank well among these countries in terms of the median time to employment (13 weeks), but their employment is the least stable, with the lowest median duration of all (30 weeks). The Vietnamese take much more time to begin employment (median time of 43 weeks) and the percentage of those who had not found employment after three years is among the highest (30%). The immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa are least well integrated into the labour market: nearly 38% were without employment after three years and the entry time for the others is rather long (23 weeks).

Figure 4

Probability of not landing a first job (Kaplan-Meier survival curves), by national origin

Figure 4

Probability of not landing a first job (Kaplan-Meier survival curves), by national origin

Source: Survey on the Settlement of New Immigrants (ENI) 1990-1992, rounds 1 to 3.

29These differences in the timing of access to employment are difficult to interpret, given the heterogeneity that exists in the population of respondents. The Cox models are useful to determine if these differences still persist after controlling for the different explanatory variables. The results of the model that identifies the gross effect of national origin on the speed of access to employment (model 1 of Table 4) confirm that there is differential access to employment according to national origin (see also Figure 4). Except for the immigrants from France, Eastern Europe and Haiti, the chances of securing a first job are between 35% and 50% lower than for those from the reference region (remainder of Europe/North America). But the effect of national origin remains marginal: in fact, this factor by itself accounts for only a chi-square of 27 out of a global 6,279 in model 1.

Table 4

Semi-parametric Cox models on access to first job (odds ratios)

Table 4
Variable Models 1 2 3 4 5 6 Country/region of birth Sub-Saharan Africa 0.51*** 0.34*** 0.35*** 0.37*** 0.42*** 0.02*** Lebanon 0.65*** 0.53*** 0.50*** 0.53*** 0.55*** 0.55*** Middle East and North Africa 0.59*** 0.53*** 0.50*** 0.50*** 0.55*** 0.55*** Vietnam 0.50*** 0.39*** 0.48*** 0.63** 0.70 0.67 South Asia, East Asia and Pacific 0.56*** 0.52*** 0.56*** 0.61*** 0.68** 0.68** Haiti 0.73 0.61*** 0.62** 0.67* 0.74 0.73 South America and the Caribbean 0.51*** 0.43*** 0.45*** 0.52*** 0.59*** 0.59*** Eastern Europe 0.74 0.66** 0.64** 0.77 0.84 0.83 France 0.86 0.76 0.67** 0.70* 0.76 0.76 Remainder of Europe and North America (Ref.) 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 Sex Male – 1.94*** 1.74*** 1.72*** 1.76*** 1.74*** Female (Ref.) 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 Age at arrival 18-25 years – 2.19*** 2.96*** 3.18*** 3.64*** 3.69*** 26-40 years – 2.09*** 2.02*** 2.09*** 2.17*** 2.17*** 41 years and over (Ref.) 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 Schooling (number of years) – – 1.00 1.00 0.99 0.99 Interaction schooling and region: Schooling and sub-Saharan Africa – – – – – 1.24*** Knowledge of official languages at arrival Knowledge of French at arrival – – 1.12 1.08 1.05 1.06 Knowledge of English at arrival – – 1.06 1.07 1.13 1.12 No knowledge of official languages (Ref.) 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00
Table 4
Variable Models 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pre-migration work experience Yes – – 1.87*** 1.91*** 1.80*** 1.80*** No (Ref.) 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 Affidavit of employment at arrival Yes – – 1.83*** 1.89*** 1.92*** No (Ref.) 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 Immigration category Family – – – 1.36* 1.33 1.26 Independent – – – 1.41** 1.44** 1.38** Refugee (Ref.) 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 Training in progress IOTC, full time – – – – 0.32*** 0.32*** Other, full time – – – – 0.40*** 0.39*** Other, part time – – – – 1.04 1.05 No training in progress (Ref.) 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 Diploma (Quebec) Regular program, full time – – – – 1.18 1.16 Occupational and other programs, full time – – – – 1.93** 1.91** IOTC, full time – – – – 2.90*** 2.97*** French course, English course, IOTC part time – – – – 1.42 1.46 Occupational and other programs, part time – – – – 1.03 1.01 No courses completed (Ref.) 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 Model Chi-square 27.16 174.49 195.33 223.13 303.25 316.28 – 2 Log Likelihood 6,252.04 6,104.71 5,622.38 5,546.34 5,466.22 5,453.19 Degrees of freedom 9 12 16 19 27 28 Number at risk (sample size) 997 997 925 918 918 918 Notes: The reference categories are in italics. Significance level: * = 0.10; ** = 0.05; *** = 0.01. Source: Survey on the Settlement of New Immigrants (ENI) 1990-1992.

Semi-parametric Cox models on access to first job (odds ratios)

30The introduction of control variables modifies the effect of national origin only a little: five of the six countries/regions of origin that were significantly disadvantaged in the gross model remain so (model 5). The Vietnamese are no longer disadvantaged in the search for employment while the immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, Lebanon, the Middle East/North Africa, Asia and South America/the Caribbean remain so.

31The addition of an interaction term between schooling and region modifies the impact of national origin only for sub-Saharan Africa: the coefficient diminishes substantially, indicating that access to employment is slowed down considerably for those with little schooling. The handicap linked to their national origin only disappears for those who have about 18 years of schooling [14]. Moreover, it is important to emphasize that only the Africans benefit from what could be termed the ability to offset the effect of their national origin; it is not the case for migrants from Lebanon, the Middle East, North Africa, Haiti, South America and the Caribbean. However, each additional year of schooling completed gives these immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa a somewhat greater chance of finding employment. For those from the other four countries/regions that remain significantly disadvantaged, the coefficients change little: they are between 32% and 45% less likely to find employment than immigrants from the region of reference, the remainder of Europe/North America.

32Let us look again at the case of the Vietnamese. We saw in Table 3 and Figure 4 that these are the immigrants who take by far the longest time to become integrated into the labour market. But the final results indicate nonetheless that their behaviour is not significantly different from that of migrants from the reference region, who were integrated almost ten times more rapidly (4.5 weeks as compared to 43 weeks for the Vietnamese). This appears to be the result of training in Quebec, since after addition of these variables (in model 5) the effect of Vietnamese origin is no longer significant.

33This hypothesis seems to apply as well to the Haitians. Addition of the variables relative to category of immigration and affidavit of employment at arrival diminishes the degree of significance of the coefficient, but the coefficient remains very close to the generally-accepted level (0.06). However, once the variables relative to training in Quebec are added, the effect of Haitian origin is no longer significant.

34As for the control variables, their effects are generally in the expected direction. Men are able to obtain a first job more rapidly than women. Access is also more rapid for those aged 18-40 (as compared to those over age 40), for those who have pre-migration work experience (compared to those who do not), for those in the independent category (compared to refugees), and for those having an employment affidavit at arrival (compared to those who do not). Access to employment is slower for those who take a full-time course, whether it is given by IOTC or as part of regular education. Among those with diplomas from these courses, only those who took a full-time IOTC course or an occupational program see an increase in their chances of gaining employment. Apparently the effect of the French courses offered by IOTC combines with more time for integration in Quebec society [15]. As for other courses (regular and occupational, either part- or full time), apparently they had not lasted long enough to leave a mark.

35We may note the lack of an effect of certain human capital characteristics such as the amount of schooling before migration (except for Africans) and knowledge of the official languages (French or English). It must be recalled that our definition of employment included any work, whatever its duration. Given the urgency and necessity of finding work, having these desirable attributes does not seem to come into play. Moreover, there are a number of jobs that do not require any linguistic or technical competence. On the other hand, it is possible that these characteristics play a role in obtaining longer-lasting, “quality” employment.

2 – Presence in the labour market during the first year and a half in Montreal

36In the preceding section we examined if the “employability” of immigrants varied according to their origin. But the degree of integration of immigrants into the labour market is only partially captured by this indicator, access to a first job. It is useful to take also into account the ability to remain in the labour market once it has been entered, that is, to keep the same job or to find another and this, early in the settlement of the immigrant. The indicator selected to measure this aspect of integration is the number of weeks spent in full-time employment [16] during the first 78 weeks of the immigrant’s stay in Montreal.

37We enumerated 519 immigrants who worked at least one week during this period (among the 729 observed [17]), or 71% of the sample. Table 5 shows there are differences by national origin with respect to the average number of weeks worked. Model 1 of Table 6 confirms these intergroup differences. Thus, migrants from Western Europe and North America are distinguished from all of others by a higher number of weeks worked (45-46 weeks). Among the immigrants from developing countries, the Haitians stand out as those with the highest average (38.6 weeks); the proportion of Haitians who did not work full time is also among the lowest (25%). At the other end of the scale are the migrants from South America/the Caribbean and Vietnam with only 28.5 and 30.8 weeks worked, respectively. What is the source of these differences? Analysis of Table 6 permits us to suggest some answers.

Table 5

Average number of weeks of full-time work(1) during the first 78 weeks in Montreal, and percentage of respondents who did not work at least one week full time during this period, by country or region of birth

Table 5
Country/region of birth(2) Average (weeks) Percentage who did not work full time N Sub-Saharan Africa 32.3 28.6 21 Lebanon 35.4 29.5 200 Middle East and North Africa 32.6 31.7 123 Vietnam 30.8 28.3 46 South Asia, East Asia and Pacific 33.5 35.6 87 Haiti 38.6 25.0 36 South America and the Caribbean 28.5 38.2 55 Eastern Europe 40.3 11.6 43 France 45.1 19.6 56 Remainder of Europe and North America 46.1 26.3 57 Total 35.8 28.9 724 (1) 30 hours or more. (2) National origin is missing for three cases. Source: Survey on the Settlement of New Immigrants (ENI) 1990-1992.

Average number of weeks of full-time work(1) during the first 78 weeks in Montreal, and percentage of respondents who did not work at least one week full time during this period, by country or region of birth

38The introduction of explanatory variables other than national origin allows one to observe that immigrants from Lebanon, the Middle East/North Africa, Asia and South America/the Caribbean worked fewer weeks than those in the reference category, with the differences being of the order of 10-14 weeks once demographic characteristics, human capital and post-migration training are taken into account (model 3, Table 6). The Vietnamese are no longer disadvantaged once human capital variables are included (model 2) [18], whereas in the case of Africans, it is the addition of variables relative to training (attending a regular training program) that eliminates the effect of origin on the duration of employment. As for the Haitians, it is interesting to note that the introduction of age and sex activates the effect of origin and that the effect is maintained with the successive addition of schooling and of the knowledge of languages [19]. It is only when the immigration category is added to the model (model 2) that the effect is no longer highly significant (note that 90% of the Haitians in this cohort were admitted under the “family” category). Finally, migrants from Eastern Europe and France are not significantly different from those from the rest of Europe and North America.

Table 6

Tobit regression coefficients associated with the number of weeks worked full time during the first 78 weeks in Montreal

Table 6
Variable 1 2 3 Country/region of birth Sub-Saharan Africa – 16.36** – 19.53*** – 9.18 Lebanon – 14.05*** – 18.01*** – 14.53*** Middle East and North Africa – 16.73*** – 18.84*** – 12.84*** Vietnam – 18.85*** – 12.08* – 6.36 South Asia, East Asia and Pacific – 14.81*** – 15.41*** – 10.03** Haiti – 11.63* – 11.16* – 4.16 South America and the Caribbean – 20.54*** – 21.53*** – 13.08** Eastern Europe – 9.29 – 6.83 – 1.25 France – 2.51 – 6.22 – 3.93 Remainder of Europe and North America Ref. Ref. Ref. Sex Male – 13.44*** 13.57*** Female – Ref. Ref. Age at arrival 18-25 years – 14.49*** 22.30*** 26-40 years – 13.44*** 14.90*** 41 years and over – Ref. Ref. Schooling (number of years) – 0.17 0.36 Knowledge of official languages at arrival Knowledge of French at arrival – – 1.03 – 3.17 Knowledge of English at arrival – 4.07 3.65 No knowledge of official languages – Ref. Ref. Pre-migration work experience Yes – 13.96*** 9.40*** No – Ref. Ref. Immigration category Family – 7.62 – 0.35 Independent – 11.49** 4.27 Refugee – Ref. Ref. Number of weeks of full-time training in Quebec Regular program – – – 0.55*** IOTC – – – 0.65*** Other – – – 0.72*** Model Chi-square 23.34 132.91 217.85 Log Likelihood – 3,324.21 – 3,029.38 – 2,958.03 Degrees of freedom 9 18 21 N 724 673 667 Notes: The reference categories are in italics. The coefficients indicate the difference in number of weeks worked for the category in question as compared to the reference category. Significance level: * = 0.10; ** = 0.05; *** = 0.01. Source: Survey on the Settlement of New Immigrants (ENI) 1990-1992.

Tobit regression coefficients associated with the number of weeks worked full time during the first 78 weeks in Montreal

39The control variables that have a positive effect on the duration in the labour market are: being male, being young (rather than being over age 40) and having already worked abroad. Full-time courses taken in Quebec reduce, as expected, the number of weeks of work immediately after arrival. Technical, professional or other programs (“other” courses) keep immigrants out of the labour market for a little longer than regular courses at the secondary, post-secondary, or university level, and IOTC training. Finally, schooling, knowledge of French or English at arrival, and immigration category are not significant variables here.


40In brief, these results show that national origin is relevant to the economic integration of new immigrants. For the two indicators examined here, access to employment and the number of weeks worked, the results are significant after controlling for others factors such as age, sex, human capital, etc. It is true that the effect of national origin is not apparent for all of the groups of immigrants. We may consider immigrants from Western and Eastern Europe and from North America as having been “successfully” integrated into the labour market. This was expected. Somewhat more surprising is the performance of the Vietnamese and the Haitians. For these two groups, it is the training taken in Quebec that slows their access to employment. As for maintaining themselves in the labour market, the latter factor is still relevant in the case of the Vietnamese, while for the Haitians the human capital factors come more into play (notably the immigration category).

41We note that there is a link between access to a first job and continued employment. Migrants from the regions that are disadvantaged in the access to a first job are also disadvantaged with respect to the duration of employment. This link is not systematic, since in the case of Africans, later access to a job does not seem to handicap them in remaining employed.

42Who are the big losers in this race for employment? Migrants from Africa, as we just emphasized, are only disadvantaged with respect to access to employment, and this disadvantage can be compensated by high levels of schooling. Immigrants from Lebanon, the Middle East/North Africa, Asia and South America/the Caribbean find it difficult to enter and to remain in the Montreal labour market.

43Of course, one or more important factors may well be missing from our models. One such factor might involve the social networks upon which an individual may call upon arrival in Quebec. This explanation might apply to the Haitians in our cohort, who are heavily admitted in the family category: for them, the networks have been in place for several decades and function well, at least as far as integration into the labour market is concerned. Migration from the Maghreb and the Middle East as well as from Asia (other than Vietnam) is more recent and the networks are less well organised. Few studies, however, have documented this dimension of economic integration in Montreal. An additional element is perhaps that substantial immigration, both in absolute and relative numbers, originated in these two broad regions and stimulated feelings of insecurity and racism in the “native” population. A number of studies in the United States, Canada and Quebec have in fact concluded that there is discrimination against certain groups, based in part on the difficulty of exporting acquired human capital from economically less advanced societies [20] (Borjas, 1994; DeSilva, 1992; Richmond, 1992; Pendakur and Pendakur, 1998; Ledoyen, 1992; Renaud, Piché and Gingras, 1997).

44With regard to the control variables, we should note the absence of effects of such factors as the duration of schooling and the knowledge of languages. Out of necessity, new arrivals end up accepting almost any employment or at any rate taking jobs that are below their qualifications; having desirable characteristics will have little influence on the process of securing employment and remaining employed. However, certain characteristics like being young or male accelerate access to employment and increase the duration of employment. In the case of age, this probably reflects a greater capacity for adaptation. Where women are concerned, a particular process is involved. It is generally recognized that the work trajectory of women is different from that of men because women are heavily involved in family responsibilities and because they confront mechanisms of exclusion and discrimination (Boyd, 1996). Finally, access to and duration of employment are greater if the immigrant has had some work experience prior to migrating. This is probably due to the fact that, all other things being equal, the immigrant who is experienced in a particular area and ready to accept remuneration that is low relative to his human capital will find employment more easily than someone with little or no experience.

45The analyses presented here indicate clearly that there is differential access to, and staying power in, the labour market by national origin. In conjunction with our earlier analyses (Renaud, Piché and Gingras, 1997; Piché, Renaud and Gingras, 1999) that showed the importance of national origin in the labour market in explaining both income and type of employment, they suggest that the economic integration of certain groups of immigrants can only be explained by certain forms of discrimination.


  • [*]
    Centre interuniversitaire d’études démographiques and Centre d’études ethniques, University of Montreal.
  • [**]
    Sociology Department and Centre d’études ethniques, University of Montreal.
  • [***]
    Researcher at the Direction de Santé Québec at the Institut de la statistique du Québec.
    Translated by David Shapiro.
  • [1]
    The Montreal Metropolitan Census Region (MCR) received 30,507 immigrants that year, representing 89% of the total number of immigrants admitted to Quebec Province.
  • [2]
    This is an indicator of the intention of employers to hire new workers, and it is calculated based on the number of help-wanted advertisements published in 22 newspapers from 20 metropolitan regions.
  • [3]
    See the study by McDonald and Worswick (1997), the results of which indicate that immigrants are more affected by unemployment than non-immigrants during periods of recession.
  • [4]
    We should note that spouses and dependents are always included in the same category as the selected immigrant, called the principal petitioner.
  • [5]
    Details of the sampling procedures and overall results from the first round of the survey may be found in Renaud et al. (1992).
  • [6]
    Appendices 1 and 2 of Renaud et al. (1993) present the evolution of the sample for the second and third rounds of interviews.
  • [7]
    Of the 880 people who did not participate in the first round, 232 left the reference population (for example, by moving outside of Quebec); the others were not interviewed because of either a wrong telephone number, prolonged absence or physical incapacity, our inability to contact them again despite numerous tries, or their refusal to respond.
  • [8]
    Logistic analyses were carried out on those who could not be located again, the refusals and those who left Quebec, taking into account a set of characteristics available on the immigration form (age, sex, immigration category, marital status, etc.).
  • [9]
    The logistic analyses focused on the refusals, prolonged absence, failure to locate again, departures from Quebec, and drop-outs during the course of the interview. Here as well, a large number of variables were used, including variables describing the social ties in Quebec, the state of knowledge of French and English, the number of jobs, etc.
  • [10]
    For more details concerning the analysis of the quality of the sample, see the appendices of the documents available at the web site of the Centre d’études ethniques of the University of Montreal (CEETUM) at the following addresses: http:// www. ceetum. umontreal. ca/ eni/ Portrait_T1. pdf and http:// www. ceetum. umontreal. ca/ eni/ Portrait_T3. pdf.
  • [11]
    For a more detailed presentation of the method, see Allison (1984) and Blossfeld and Rohwer (1995).
  • [12]
    The Tobit model is used in cases where the values of the dependent variable are limited to either or both of the extremes of the distribution, and this in an exogenous way, as is the case here where we only observe the first 78 weeks of the stay of the immigrants. Use of ordinary least squares in this situation is not appropriate. For further details, see Kmenta (1986, pp. 560-566).
  • [13]
    Adapted from the classification scheme of the World Bank (1993, pp. 336-337).
  • [14]
    Value “x” obtained from the following formula: (ln 1.24) x – ln 0.02 = 0.
  • [15]
    Full-time courses at IOTC last for 30 weeks.
  • [16]
    Defined as 30 hours or more per week; respondents who had more than one job simultaneously were counted only once as working that week.
  • [17]
    There was attrition between the first and second rounds of the survey and the number of respondents having completed both questionnaires is 729.
  • [18]
    It is in fact the addition of pre-migration work experience that eliminates the effect of national origin; this intermediate model, not presented here, includes the following variables: region, sex, age, schooling, knowledge of official languages, immigration category, and pre-migration work experience.
  • [19]
    These intermediate models are not presented here.
  • [20]
    This is confirmed by our earlier analyses where national origin, defined as a function of the level of economic development of the country of origin, was much more important than when it was defined in terms of groupings by continent (Renaud, Piché and Gingras, 1997).


The economic integration of immigrants is most frequently studied with cross-sectional data (censuses and surveys). Here we analyse the process of integration of immigrants into the labour market, using a longitudinal survey carried out in Montreal with a cohort of immigrants who arrived in Quebec in 1989. The central hypothesis of our research is that the national origin plays an important role in the immigrant’s economic integration, defined here by access to a first job and the capacity to remain employed in the labour market (i.e., number of weeks worked) during the first 18 months after arrival. The results indicate that once socio-demographic and human capital variables are taken into account, immigrants from developing countries and from Eastern Europe have greater difficulties than those from the United States, France and the rest of Europe in becoming integrated into the labour market.



La inserción económica de los inmigrantes se analiza frecuentemente desde el punto de vista transversal, a través de censos y encuestas. En este artículo analizamos el proceso de inserción de los inmigrantes en el mercado de trabajo a partir de una encuesta longitudinal llevada a cabo en Montreal a partir de una cohorte de inmigrantes llegados a Québec en 1989. La hipótesis central de nuestra investigación es que el origen nacional de los inmigrantes juega un papel discriminante en la inserción económica, que definimos a partir del acceso al primer empleo y el número de semanas de actividad durante los primeros 18 meses de residencia. Una vez tomamos en cuenta el efecto de variables socio – demográficas y de capital humano, los resultados indican que los inmigrantes procedentes de países en desarrollo y de Europa del Este tienen más dificultades en el mercado de trabajo que los procedentes de Estados Unidos, Francia y el resto de Europa.


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Victor Piché [*]
Victor Piché, Université de Montréal, Département de démographie, C.P. 6128, Succ. Centre-ville, Montréal (Québec) H3C 3J7, Canada, tel.: 514 343 6610, fax: 514 343 2309
  • [*]
    Centre interuniversitaire d’études démographiques and Centre d’études ethniques, University of Montreal.
Jean Renaud [**]
  • [**]
    Sociology Department and Centre d’études ethniques, University of Montreal.
Lucie Gingras [***]
  • [***]
    Researcher at the Direction de Santé Québec at the Institut de la statistique du Québec.
    Translated by David Shapiro.
Translated by
David Shapiro
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