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Why Do So Many Children of Immigrants Attend University? Evidence for Canada

  • Stephen Childs
  • Ross Finnie
  • Richard E. MuellerEmail author
Article

Abstract

The children of Canadian immigrants from some source regions, Asia, Africa and China in particular, attend university at extraordinarily high rates. Most others participate at lower rates, but still compare favourably with non-immigrant Canadians. In this paper, the Youth in Transition Survey is used to analyse the role of various background factors on these outcomes, including parental education, family income, parental expectations, high school grades and PISA test scores. To some degree, the children of immigrants go to a university because they have higher levels of the background attributes associated with university attendance, parental education in particular. But by allowing these effects to vary by immigrant group, this research finds that the high immigrant university participation rates are largely driven by those possessing “unfavourable” characteristics (low levels of parental education in particular) attending university in spite of these apparent disadvantages.

Keywords

First-generation Second-generation Post-secondary education participation Canada 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Finnie and Mueller are grateful for support from Statistics Canada, where both were Visiting Fellows. Thanks also to Ling Ling Ang, Winnie Chan, Feng Hou and Theresa Qiu for useful discussions on this topic. Li Xue, Chris Worswick and other participants at the 2010 Statistics Canada Socio-Economic Conference and the 2010 meetings of the Canadian Economics Association provided useful feedback. We also thank participants at the 2010 International Symposium on Contemporary Labor Economics at Xiamen University, China, for stimulating and insightful discussion. Two anonymous referees provided very useful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. This is a much abbreviated version of Childs et al. (2012).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Childs
    • 1
  • Ross Finnie
    • 2
  • Richard E. Mueller
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Office of Institutional AnalysisUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.EPRIUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.EPRIUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada

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