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
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
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