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Canada – Immigrant wives―especially the younger ones―participate less often in the labour market than Canadian-born wives

Immigrant wives―especially the younger ones―participate less often in the labour market than Canadian-born wives

Of all immigrant wives aged 25 to 54 whose husbands were aged 25 to 54 and were employed as paid workers, 76% participated in the labour market―i.e., they had a job or actively looked for one―from 2010 to 2014 (Table 1). The labour force participation rate of Canadian-born wives was approximately 12 percentage points higher, at about 88%.

About half of the difference in labour market participation between immigrant wives and Canadian-born wives can be accounted for by socioeconomic characteristics

Immigrant wives may have relatively low participation rates for a variety of reasons.

Their families, which average close to four persons, are larger than those of their Canadian-born counterparts (Table 3). Since family size is negatively correlated with labour force participation (Table 1), this may account for at least some the differences documented above.

Immigrant wives also generally come from countries where the involvement of women in the labour market, measured relative to that of men, is lower than it is in Canada. For instance, during the 2000s, female-to-male labour market participation ratios in Latin America, Africa and Asia were about 0.60—much lower than the ratio of 0.84 observed in Canada .

Lower wage offers are potentially a third factor. Simple economic models predict that, all else being equal, lower wages make employment less attractive and, thus, tend to reduce labour force participation. When observationally equivalent women are compared, the hourly wages of immigrant wives are 20% lower than those of Canadian-born wives during the 2006-to-2014 period.Note 6 In other words, standardized real hourly wages of employed immigrant wives are lower than those of their Canadian-born counterparts.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Labour Market Participation of Immigrant and Canadian-born Wives, 2006 to 2014



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