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Immigrant Women’s Labour Market Activity in Canada – The enduring influence of source-country gender-role attitudes

Previous studies have found a strong association between source-country female labour force participation rates and immigrant women’s labour force participation in the host country. This relationship is interpreted as the enduring influence of source-country gender-role attitudes on immigrant women’s labour market activity. However, the assumption that source-country female labour force participation levels closely capture cultural gender-role attitudes has not been carefully examined. Furthermore, little is known about how source-country characteristics might be correlated with immigrant women’s labour market outcomes after entering the host country’s labour market.

This paper extends the current literature by addressing three questions: What is the relationship between source-country gender-role attitudes and source-country female labour force participation? Does the relationship between the source-country female labour force participation rates and immigrant women’s labour force participation in the host country persist when source-country gender-role attitudes are taken into account? Are source-country female labour force participation rates and source-country gender-role attitudes associated with immigrant women’s wages in Canada?

Data from the Labour Force Survey and the World Values Survey are used. The combined May and November files of Statistics Canada’s 2006-to-2012 Labour Force Survey provide information on the labour market outcomes of women who immigrated to Canada as adults and who, at the time of the survey, were aged 25 to 64 and had been living in Canada for at least one year. The data for the source-country gender-role attitudes are derived from the World Values Survey and source-country labour force participation rates are obtained from the World Bank Data Indicators on social development.

The results indicate that source-country female labour force participation rates and source-country gender-role attitudes are only moderately correlated. Moreover, although both of these source-country variables are correlated with immigrant women’s labour force participation in Canada when entered separately into a regression model, only the source-country female labour force participation rate remains statistically significant when both are included. This suggests that the relationship between source-country gender-role attitudes and immigrant women’s labour force participation in the host country functions through the moderate correlation between source-country gender-role attitudes and source-country female labour force participation rates.

The wage analysis, however, indicates that source-country gender-role attitudes and source-country female labour force participation influence immigrant women’s labour market performance through different pathways. Women from countries with more egalitarian gender-role attitudes have higher wages in Canada than immigrant women from nations with less egalitarian attitudes. Additionally, a positive relationship is observed between the source-country female labour force participation rate and immigrant women’s wages in the host country. This relationship is largely explained by occupational and industrial allocation: women from countries with higher levels of female labour force participation are more concentrated in higher paying occupations and industries. These results suggest that women from nations with high female labour force participation rates may navigate the host country’s labour market differently than other immigrant women, resulting in higher-paying employment. These findings indicate that the relationship between the source-country female labour force participation rate and immigrant women’s labour market outcomes extends beyond cultural gender-role attitudes.


 

Chart 2 plots the average labour force participation rates of immigrant women by female labour force participation rates in their respective source countries. The chart shows that there is a large variation in female labour force participation rates across immigrant groups in Canada. While the female labour force participation rates for most immigrant groups are in the 60% to 80% range, some groups have rates lower than 50% (e.g., those from Pakistan, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan) and some groups have rates higher than 85% (e.g., those from Philippines, Belarus, Romania, Albania and Zimbabwe). The chart also shows that the variation in immigrant women’s labour force participation rates in Canada is positively associated with the source-country female labour force participation rate.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at  Source-country Female Labour Force Participation and the Wages of Immigrant Women in Canada.

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