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Canadian immigrants thriving in rural areas

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A new study by Statistics Canada found that immigrants living in small urban centers and rural areas of Canada tend to integrate better economically than immigrants living in large urban areas.

The main countries of origin of immigrants to Canada has changed dramatically over the years. Most new immigrants come from countries such as China, India, and the Philippines, rather than historical source countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, and the United States.

The report, which studied the years 1992-2005, showed that income differences between native-born Canadians and new immigrants in smaller centers and rural areas closed faster over time than in large cities.

In very large urban areas, the initial income gap was 37 percent, dropping to 22 percent after four years and 10 percent after 12 years.

In contrast, in small urban areas the initial gap was only 14 percent...and after four years, immigrants were earning 2 percent more than native-born Canadians. After eleven years, immigrants in small urban areas were earning 18 percent more than their native-born counterparts.

The difference in income between immigrants and native-born Canadians was much more pronounced in small towns and rural areas, where the average income of immigrants was 4 percent higher than that of Canadians after only one year of permanent residence.

However, immigrants are less likely to settle in small urban centers and rural areas, according to the statistics. 75 percent of immigrants chose to live in Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver (compared with 34 percent of the general population) and less than 3 percent settled in small towns or rural areas (compared to 22 percent of the general population).

The income gap for immigrants was at its widest upon arriving in Canada. Over time, the gap was reduced as migrants overcame challenges related to immigration such as language, recognition of foreign credentials, and employment opportunity information and labor market requirements.

Surprisingly, more vulnerable immigrant groups such as refugees had an average 10 percent better income than Canadians in small towns and rural areas. However, this same group did poorly in large urban areas, earning an average 43 percent less than native-born Canadians upon arrival and 20 percent less after 13 years of residence.

Only immigrants from the United States, New Zealand, and Australia integrated more quickly in large urban areas than smaller ones.