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The Immigrant Society

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A Teaching Topic in Socioeconomic and Political Context 

The Immigrant Society

This topic deals with the impact of large-scale immigration on society. Subtopics include multiculturalism, diversity, social cohesion, assimilation, immigration patterns, and successes and challenges. Discrimination in employment and housing comprise an important set of challenges. This discrimination affects all aspects of immigrants' lives, including health outcomes (Toronto PPG 1005H).

This topic examines the important economic role immigration can play in filling labour market gaps. Immigration can help ease fiscal pressures caused by an aging domestic population with a low natural birth rate.

Topic Learning Outcome: Students will be familiar with the contours of ongoing debates surrounding immigration policy, and will be able to understand and critically analyze arguments about the different types of impact large-scale immigration can have on a society.

Core Concepts associated with this Topic: Demographics; Labour Migration.

Recommended Readings

Toronto PPG 1005H The Social Context of Policy-Making

Sweetman, Arthur and Garnett Picot (2012) “Making It in Canada: Immigration Outcomes and Policies” IRPP Study No. 29, pp. 1-42.

Oreopoulos, Philip. “Why Do Skilled Immigrants Struggle in the Labour Market? A Field Experiment with Sixty Thousand Resumes.”

Reitz, Jeffrey G. (2011) "Pro-immigration Canada: Social and Economic Roots of Popular Views." IRPP Study, no. 20. Montreal: Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Saunders, Doug (2012) What would a Canada of 100 million feel like? More comfortable, better served, better defended, The Globe and Mail, May 17 2012.

Zuberi, Dan (2006) Chapter 1: Introduction. Differences that Matter: Social Policy in the Working Poor in the United States and Canada. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Block, S. & Galabuzi, G. (2011) Canada’s colour coded labour market: The gap for racialized workers. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives.

Saunders, Doug. (2011) Arrival City: The Final Migration and Our Next World. Toronto: Vintage Canada

Wilson, R., Landolt, P, Shakya, Y., Galabuzi, G., Zahoorunissa, Z, Pham, D., Cabrera, F. & Joly, M. (2011) Working rough, living poor: Employment and income insecurities faced by racialized groups and their impact on health. Toronto, ON: Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services:

Exposed Photovoice Book:

Arthur Sweetman and Abdurrahman (2007) “First and Second Generation Immigrant Educational Attainment and Labor Market Outcomes: A Comparison of the United States and Canada” Research in Labor Economics, 27, 215-70.

Boyd, Monica and Michael Vickers. (2000) “100 years of immigration in Canada.” Canadian Social Trends Autumn: 2-10.

Picot, Garnett. (2008) “Immigrant Economic and Social Outcomes in Canada: Research and Data Development”. Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series #319, Statistics Canada, Ottawa.

Frenette, Marc and Rene Morissette. (2003) “Will they ever converge: Earnings of immigrant and Canadian-born workers over two decades.” Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series, Statistics Canada, Ottawa.

 Sample Assessment Questions:

1.) What are the appropriate objectives of Canadian immigration policy? Discuss in a 1 page answer.

2.) Skilled immigrants continue to struggle in the labour market compared to comparably educated native-born Canadians. Discuss at least one possible explanation for this phenomenon in a one-page paper.

3.) Professor Irvin Studin has argued for increased immigration to Canada, with the objective of reaching a population of 100 million Canadians. In a 2-3 page paper, discuss this suggestion. You may take a "pro" or "con" position to the proposal, or you may choose to discuss the two sets of arguments without taking a side.

Page updated by Sean Goertzen and Ben Eisen on 17 March 2015.


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School of Public Policy and Governance