Homeownership of Canadian Immigrants

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Research Briefs

Canada’s immigrants do not differ from the Canadian-born in the transition to homeownership 

Since the 1980s, the size of the immigration population has grown and its ethno-racial composition has become increasingly diverse. This has led to concern about the adaptation of immigrants to Canada.

In a recent study in Canadian Studies in Population, Barry Edmonston and Sharon Lee, professors in the University of Victoria, used data from the 1991, 1996, 2001, and 2006 censuses to examine patterns of homeownership among immigrants. Their study asked if immigrants are less likely than the Canadian-born to be homeowners and whether recent immigrants are less likely to own a home than earlier immigrants.

“Homeownership is a key dimension of immigrant integration,” according to Edmonston and Lee. The authors explain that “homeownership indicates economic progress” as well as “a commitment to life in Canada.”

Edmonston and Lee found that length of residence in Canada is a key factor in the transition to homeownership among immigrants. Though recent arrivals begin at lower levels of homeownership than the Canadian-born, they rapidly become homeowners.

Immigrants who have lived in Canada for 20 years or longer have similar homeownership rates as the Canadian-born. Immigrants who arrived in Canada before 1970 have higher rates of homeownership than the Canadian-born. For immigrants arriving between 1991 and 2006, homeownership rates were lower.

There is no evidence, however, that more recent immigrants are less able to become homeowners than earlier immigrants. These immigrants are also able to close the gap in homeownership with the Canadian-born. 

Edmonston and Lee observe that household income has a substantial effect on homeownership. The length of time it takes immigrants to become homeowners likely reflects the time needed to accrue adequate financial resources.

The authors also point out that there has been considerable debate about the integration of recent immigrants from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. “Some immigrant ethnic groups have lower rates and some have higher rates of homeownership,” explain Edmonston and Lee, reflecting the diversity of Canada’s immigrant population. Despite this, “for the most part, Canadian results for homeownership trajectories suggest that recent immigrant experiences are more broadly similar than different compared with that of earlier immigrants and the Canadian-born”.


A summary of the study can be found at: Population Change and Lifecourse Strategic Knowledge Research Brief #19, Homeownership Trends Among Immigrants .

For more information, contact Barry Edmonston, University of Victoria

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