Study: Estimating immigrants’ presence in Canada [and emigration using tax filing data]

Useful analysis, with best estimates I have seen to date pending full implementation of the exit-entry program:

By the tenth year after landing, about 15% to 20% of adult immigrants who landed between 2000 and 2004 were estimated to have emigrated from Canada, depending on the definition and data sources used to estimate emigration. Emigration refers to leaving Canada to settle in another country.

A Statistics Canada technical report “Estimating immigrants’ presence in Canada within the context of increasingly fluid international migration patterns” seeks to refine the estimation of emigration among immigrants by assessing methodological choices concerning the scope of the data and definitions of emigration using tax-based administrative data. This study was conducted in collaboration with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The analysis showed that if emigration is defined proximately as absence from the T1 Personal Master File for two consecutive years, the estimated emigration rate by the tenth year after landing would reach 20% among immigrants who landed between 2000 and 2004 and were aged 25 to 64 on arrival.

The estimated emigration rate was reduced to 15% when emigration was defined as absence for four consecutive years from 14 available tax- or benefits-based data sources.

Even with the 14 available data sources, it is still possible for immigrants who are present in tax files in a given year to not actually reside in Canada, or for those who are absent from tax files to still reside in Canada. The federal government has established an entry–exit program to collect exit and entry data at the land border with the United States and exit data from airlines on all travellers leaving Canada by air. Once available for research purposes, these exit data will further improve the estimation of individuals’ Canadian residence status.

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The study “Estimating Immigrants’ Presence in Canada within the Context of Increasingly Fluid International Migration Patterns,” part of the Analytical Studies: Methods and Reference Series (Catalogue number11-633-X), is now available

COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

Data on departures less accurate than arrivals. But a decline in permanent residents of 41,000 in 2020 compared to 2019 using labour force data is much smaller than the drop in new permanent residents, which fell by 156,000, so I think the significance is over-stated:

The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted some recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and family connections.

The number of permanent residents who have been in Canada for less than five years declined by four per cent to 1,019,000 by the end of 2020 from 1,060,000 the year before, according to an analysis of Statistics Canada’s labour force survey that measures the number of workers between 15 and 65 years old by their immigration status.

The number had grown three per cent a year, on average, in the previous 10 years.

The data show that the number of permanent residents who have been in Canada for five to 10 years also dropped from 1,170,000 in 2019 to 1,146,000 in 2020.

“It’s actually not uncommon to have immigrants go back to their home country during the recessionary periods,” said Robert Falconer, a researcher at the University of Calgary School of Public Policy.

“If they’ve lost their job, they can go and live with their family and not pay rent. They can maybe find some social connections and work back home.”

He said the number of new immigrants fell by about three per cent between 2008 and 2009 during the financial crisis and the recession that followed.

He said many of those who have left in the past year might not come back if the economy doesn’t recover quickly.

“The longer they stay at home in their home countries, the less likely they are to come back to Canada.”

A study by Statistics Canada released in August showed that in the early months of the pandemic, recent immigrants to Canada were more likely than Canadian-born workers to lose their jobs, mainly because they had held them for less time and, as a whole, are overrepresented in lower-wage employment. That includes in service-sector jobs.

Julien Bérard-Chagnon, an analyst with Statistics Canada, said the agency doesn’t keep a monthly count of immigrants who leave the country but a group of its analysts are now working on a paper to examine the issue during COVID-19 pandemic.

“The literature signals that immigrants, especially recent immigrants, are more likely to emigrate than the Canadian-born population,” he said.

While the pandemic has also driven down immigration to Canada by about 40 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019, the Liberal government announced in October that Canada is seeking to admit upwards of 1.2 million new permanent residents in the next three years, including 401,000 this year.

But this number seems optimistic as travel restrictions and the sharp economic downtown remain.

“I doubt they will hit their target this year,” Falconer said.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said the government is very confident it will meet it immigration targets in the next three years.

“In January 2021, we welcomed more new permanent residents than in January 2020, when there was no pandemic,” Alexander Cohen said in a statement.

“We’re already ahead of schedule, welcoming new permanent residents at a rate 37 per cent higher than our projections.”

Falconer said the government is focusing on transitioning temporary residents in Canada to permanent status.

“It’s the best thing to do for people who are living here,” he said. “But in terms of this population growth, it’s a wash, meaning that we’re not actually increasing our population.”

He said this policy is necessary but not sufficient to help the government meet its high immigration target this year.

“Not every temporary resident wants to become a Canadian permanent resident or Canadian citizen. Some of them are here to work, to study and they are perfectly happy to go back home.”

He said the incentive for the government is still to try to increase immigration numbers, especially in jobs related to health care and technology because having fewer immigrants will harm these two sectors more than others.

Andrew Griffith, a former director of citizenship and multiculturalism at the Immigration Department, says immigrants who arrive during an economic downturns tend to suffer economically, at least in the short term, more than those who arrive when the economy is growing.

He said maintaining high levels of immigration at a time when the economy is weak and sectors such as hospitality, retail and tourism are devastated has an element of irresponsibility.

Griffith said immigrants leaving Canada can reflect a failure of Canadian integration policies.

He said the government needs to put more focus on immigrants who are already here as we face structural change in sectors including hospitality, travel and service industries that will affect mostly women, visible minorities and recent immigrants.

“We may be in a fairly structural shift that will eliminate some jobs or dramatically reduce some jobs, and then what kind of retraining programs or other programs we need to support people as they transition.”

Cohen said the government has invested in settlement services during the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing funding to help boost wages by 15 per cent. It has helped buy personal protective equipment to keep staff safe, as well as cellphones and laptops to ensure services, including language training and job-search help, can be offered remotely.

Falconer said the government should address problems with licensing and professional development that many newcomers face in Canada.

“We make it very, very difficult for somebody who worked in a profession in their home country to come here and work in the same profession.”

“Immigrants come here with aspirations or hopes of being able to work and earn a much better living here in Canada than they did in their home country and they discover that they’re actually going to be working in an unpaid, underemployed job.”

Source: COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

Ahead of November election, growing numbers of Jews consider leaving US

Of note even if anecdotal. Interest and intention are of course different from action:

By 11:42 a.m. on the morning after US President Donald Trump refused to condemn white supremacists during the presidential debate, Heather Segal had received four inquiries from Americans interested in moving to Canada. Two of them were Jewish.

Segal, an immigration lawyer in Toronto, knows there’s always a spike in inquiries during US election years. But in her 25 years of experience, it’s never been as big as it is now.

Source: Ahead of November election, growing numbers of Jews consider leaving US

Brexit fuels brain drain as skilled Britons head to the EU

Not surprising:

Brexit has sparked an exodus of economically productive people from the UK to European Union nations on a scale that would normally be expected only as a result of a major economic or political crisis, according to a detailed new study.

Using a combination of official statistics across the EU and in-depth interviews with people living in Germany, the study found huge changes in migration patterns of UK citizens since the 2016 referendum, which contrast with largely stable ones among nationals from the 27 EU states remaining in the bloc.

The report, a collaboration between the Oxford in BerlinResearch Partnership – a project made up of Oxford university and four Berlin institutions – and the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, also found a “seismic shift” in the number of UK citizens already living abroad who had decided to go a step further by obtaining EU member state passports since 2016, showing how Britain’s vote to leave the EU pushed many individuals into long-term decisions.

Source: Brexit fuels brain drain as skilled Britons head to the EU

Europe’s south and east worry more about emigration than immigration – poll

Interesting results but understandable given the demographics:

Southern and eastern European countries are more concerned about emigration than immigration, according to a wide-ranging survey of attitudes in 14 EU countries.

In Spain, Italy, Greece, Poland, Hungary and Romania, six countries where population levels are either flatlining or falling sharply, more citizens said emigration was a worry than immigration, according to the poll by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

The steepest falls are in Romania, where the population has decreased by almost 10% over the past decade as an exodus of mostly young people move to work in western Europe.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2019/03/popuation-change-zip/giv-3902leY08K5RYnIs/

However, in northern and western nations, concerns over immigration far outstripped those over emigration.

The survey was conducted to establish the principal issues of concern ahead of the European parliamentary elections in May. The 14 nations polled will occupy 80% of the seats in the new parliament.

The poll discovered that Europeans are concerned about far more than migration, even though it has dominated EU politics and discourse over the five year term of the outgoing parliament. Corruption, nationalism, terrorism and climate change are also uppermost in minds.

In the survey as a whole, 20% were worried about emigration and 32% about immigration. The poll was conducted by YouGov and questioned almost 50,000 people.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/charts/embed/mar/2019-03-25T13:41:59/embed.html

In some countries, the fear of emigration was so great that large numbers of people believed compatriots should not be allowed to leave their country for long periods of time.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/charts/embed/mar/2019-03-25T15:48:16/embed.html

“The EU elections have been sold as a battleground over the heart of Europe,” said Mark Leonard, the director of the ECFR, adding that nationalists were trying to turn the vote into a referendum on migration.

“The findings from this poll should give heart to pro-Europeans, and show that there are still votes to be won on major issues such as climate change, healthcare, housing, and living standards,” Leonard said. “They will be making a strategic blunder if they accept the framing of the anti-European parties that this election will be won or lost on migration alone.”

Populist leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and Italy’s Matteo Salvini are seeking to put migration front and centre of the 23-26 May polls, in which 374 million people are eligible to vote in a new parliament for a five-year term. The Orbán government recently deployed a scare poster warning about migration policy in Brussels.

Hungary has refused to take refugees under an EU quota system and continues to block an EU law that proposes a permanent redistribution system for asylum seekers. The poster referred to this theme, stating: “They want to introduce compulsory relocation quotas.”

Orbán, who is under pressure to quit the main centre-right European parliament group, has called for migration policy to be “withdrawn from the commission and returned to the member states”. EU member states already play the decisive role in migration policy.

While Orbán has scaled back his media attacks, following pressure from allies in the European People’s party, he has indicated that he could resume his anti-EU campaign. “Our job now is to continually inform the people about what Brussels is up to.”

But immigration numbers have fallen sharply over the past two years: in 2018, the number who crossed the Mediterranean was put at just over 116,000 by UNHCR, down almost 90% from those who made the journey in 2015.

The survey found that Islamic radicalism was the top area of concern, worrying about one in five Europeans, though fears were much higher in countries like Belgium, France and the Netherlands than in eastern Europe.

In almost all countries, a majority of people agreed that the environment should be made a priority even if it damaged economic growth.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/charts/embed/mar/2019-03-25T15:47:08/embed.html

But the data also showed a wide range of concerns cropping up in different countries, meaning that the election will be fought on different issues across the continent.

The economy was the single biggest concern in Italy, Romania and Greece. In seven countries – Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, Greece and Slovakia – more than 50% of people surveyed said corruption was a major issue.

Some experts have warned centrist and traditional parties against accepting a pro-EU versus anti-EU narrative, fearing it will only bolster populists by setting up straw-man arguments.

The European elections are the second-largest electoral contest in the world, behind the Indian elections. Voters in 27 countries are due to elect 705 MEPs, who will take office on 2 July. The UK is not scheduled to take part in the vote and will have to inform the EU by 12 April if it wishes to elect MEPs, meaning a long Brexit delay.

Source: Europe’s south and east worry more about emigration than immigration – poll

No surprise here: Canada a turnoff for some refugees – Saunders

Doug Saunders on Canadian smugness:

It was only in the early 20th century, under Wilfrid Laurier’s leadership, that Canada learned to attract and keep people – by spending serious money on agencies and campaigns abroad, and giving people land and cash to come. No period has come close to the Laurier decade for keeping immigrants.

We soon fell back to our exclusionary patterns. With the exception of the 1910s and the 1950s, immigration in the 20th century contributed little to Canada’s population growth: In many decades people didn’t want to come; in others, people arriving barely outnumbered those departing. We spent much of that century turning away refugees and warning each other about the civilizational threats posed by southern and eastern Europeans and Asians. Only after 1999 did immigration, for the first time, overtake childbirth as the main source of population growth.

Still, we spend more money keeping newcomers out, and throwing obstacles in the way of their settlement and citizenship, than we do welcoming them. The mean-spirited politics of the past decade, the policies denying health care to asylum seekers and the cruel temporary-worker rules and family-reunification restrictions are well known overseas, and the best-qualified people would rather go elsewhere. We think we’re a hot date, but we really need to upgrade our Tinder profile.

Even in Britain, Canada has become a turnoff: We are currently the fourth-most-popular country for British emigration, far behind Australia (which receives twice as many people), the United States and Spain. In fact, it’s a net loss: During the past decade, an average of 5,200 British emigrants came here each year, while 8,500 moved the other way. Worse, the British Post Office surveyed British emigrants, and the happiest were those in France, Spain, the United States, Australia and Thailand – Canada didn’t make the list.

We should heed the lesson we learned a few years ago in Ireland: After the country’s economy collapsed in 2008, Ottawa hoped for a migration boom of skilled workers. But only about 1,000 a year came, and they complainedabout unfriendly conditions and unaffordable cities. Only after paying for a big advertising and outreach campaign did that rise to 5,000 – for a year, until things got better in Ireland.

Next time we have a months-long national debate about migrants, maybe it shouldn’t be about them, but about us – why we still seem so cold and unwelcoming, even to those we want.

Source: No surprise here: Canada a turnoff for some refugees – The Globe and Mail

America, the Not So Promised Land – The New York Times

Tara Zahra provides an US historical perspective on return migration (immigrants who return to their country of origin).

In Canada. an estimated one-third of working-age male immigrants leave within 20 years (2006 Statistics Canada study, have not seen anything more recent):

Within Europe, state officials also questioned the myth of the “Golden Country.” This was partly a matter of their perceived self-interest: They were anxious about the number of conscripts and workers lost to “American fever.” But they were also legitimately concerned about the lack of social solidarity in the American “jungle.” The Austrian War Ministry, for example, claimed that “hard labor and an unfamiliar climate, along with the absence of any kind of social protection” resulted in the “complete physical and moral breakdown” of Austrian workers in America.

As European migrants were recruited to replace the plantation labor of freed slaves, some feared that they would be no better treated. Emigration, they insisted, was more likely to deliver migrants to a new form of slavery than greater freedom.

Today’s migrants are not so different from their predecessors. Most make frequent round-trips. They stay in close touch with relatives, aided by low-cost airlines, cellphones and Skype. Many migrants and refugees would like to return home someday, if only they could do so securely. But in a world in which visas are lottery prizes, and refugees die in trucks or find themselves trapped in stateless purgatory, it is not so easy to come and go freely.

In spite of the rhetoric of globalization, we still live with the passports and border controls introduced after the First World War. This system, a response to xenophobic agitation, created the current distinction between legal immigrants and “illegal” aliens. In 1965, the quota system was eliminated, enabling more migrants to come to the United States from Asia, Latin America and Africa. But it remains difficult for migrants to respond nimbly to changing economic or political conditions.

What has not changed is the degree of polarization around migration. Many countries with high levels of migration remain ambivalent about the effects of emigration on their societies. The value of remittances does not clearly outweigh the strain on separated families and the loss of human talent. Migrants continue to have mixed feelings about life in the United States. “We were afraid of poverty,” recalled one family of Bosnian refugees in the 1990s. “We thought we wouldn’t be able to step out on the street because of drugs, murders and similar things. We were afraid that there was no health insurance similar to what we had.”

They came anyway, since “everything looked better than going back to Bosnia with no future at all.”

Americans, meanwhile, are almost perfectly divided about whether immigration makes the United States better or worse, according to the Pew study. Given the overwhelming percentage of Americans descended from immigrants, these attitudes betray deep historical amnesia. We too easily forget the suffering of previous generations of migrants, or imagine that it was redeemed by the relative comfort of their children or grandchildren.

And when these attitudes are combined with xenophobia, punitive migration laws, harsh working conditions and a lack of social support, they raise the same question posed by migrants a century ago. Will my dreams be realized or shattered in America? For most people, the answer will lie somewhere in between.

Source: America, the Not So Promised Land – The New York Times