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Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between family change and economic well-being among recent immigrant families with children to Canada during the 1977 to 1997 period. Whereas the average income to needs ratio of all Canadian families with children is up modestly over this period, this study documents a substantial decline in the average level of economic well-being of recent immigrants. In this context, this study draws attention to the relevance of not only structural explanations that emphasize the role of labour markets and/or government policy in shaping the economic conditions of immigrants, but also the potential impact of shifts in the living arrangements and family structure of immigrants. More specifically, an increased incidence of lone parenthood has had a net negative impact on the economic well-being of immigrants, albeit not to the same extent as among non-immigrants in Canada. Yet, other changes have had a slight positive impact, including an ongoing decline in the average number of children per family, an upward shift in the age distribution of parents, and a slight increase in the tendency of immigrants to co-reside with family members beyond the immediate nuclear family.