How Labor Migrants Fare

Part of the series Population Economics pp 351-375

Aboriginals as unwilling immigrants: Contact, assimilation and labour market outcomes

  • Peter KuhnAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, University of California
  • , Arthur SweetmanAffiliated withSchool of Policy Studies, Queen’s University

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Like immigrants, aboriginal populations’ economic success may be enhanced by the acquisition of skills and traits appropriate to the “majority” culture in which they reside. Using 1991 Canadian Census data, we show that Aboriginal labour market success is greater for Aboriginals whose ancestors intermarried with non-Aboriginals, for those who live off Indian reserves, and for those who live outside the Yukon and Northwest Territories. While these three “facts” could also be explained by a combination of other processes, such as discrimination, physical remoteness, and selection, only the skill/trait acquisition, or “assimilation” hypothesis is consistent with all three.

Key words

Aboriginal wages employment

JEL classification

J15 J7