Labor Market Experiences of Canadian Immigrants with Focus on Foreign Education and Experience1


  • 1

    We acknowledge most sincerely the generous time and expert comments of Lori Wilkinson, Tracey Peter, and Xiaoyun Wang on an earlier version of this paper. We also acknowledge the financial support provided by the Manitoba Research Data Centre.

  • 2

    The maritime provinces are excluded from the analysis due to the very small number of immigrants in these regions. Between 1999 and 2005, approximately 1 percent of new immigrants immigrated to these provinces (CIC, 2006).


Recent Canadian immigrants have increasing education levels but decreasing earnings, partly due to the devaluation of foreign education and work experience. This study uses 2002 Ethnic Diversity Survey data and examines the value attributed to foreign education for immigrants based on their duration of stay in Canada, which proves to be an important methodological distinction. Immigrants from developing countries experience the most acute devaluation. The findings outline the limitations of human capital theory in explaining the labor market experience of Canadian immigrants and have implications for the current “point system” used to select immigrants to Canada.