Sweden and Canada Immigration Comparison

This paper describes the context of Canadian immigration and immigrants` labour market outcomes, and explores trends in both over time. Fortunately, there is a wealth of research regarding the question of why earnings have declined among immigrants to Canada. Employment outcomes of immigrants to Canada have been much less studied. In this latter case we are restricted to providing basic facts, and hypotheses regarding the causes of the SwedishCanadian differences mentioned above.

This paper outlines potential causes of the observed gap in outcomes, to the extent that they are known, and asks what the implications might be for the Swedish experience. Of course, Canadian outcomes are in part a function of the institutional setting. As will be seen, it is likely that much of the difference in economic outcomes between the two countries is related to differences in immigration programs and policies. The paper ends with a discussion and summary of the range of possible drivers of Sweden`s current immigration outcomes.

Institutional Background Canada’s immigration system is quite complex, and is becoming increasingly so. With a federal governance structure – a federal government and provinces – there is substantial heterogeneity in the opinions and goals of the various actors involved in national discussions. This implies that the nation’s aggregate set of policies and programs are not always internally consistent. Indeed, there are many stresses between the sometimes complementary, but frequently competing, humanitarian, social, cultural, and economic goals of immigration policy.

And there is frequently a lack of coordination, and sometimes disagreement, across levels of government and various actors within civil society regarding such issues as settlement services. With respect to highly skilled immigrants, for example, the federal government is responsible for the admission of health professionals, but provincial governments operate the healthcare systems and are responsible for the certification of those same professionals. Potentially useful for Sweden is a comparison of the alternative routes taken by Canada and the United States.

Of particular interest are the differences in immigration levels, and the associated need to manage the immigration system, along with the active measures that may be beneficial for a smaller nation seeking economic benefit from immigration. Modern immigration policies 1 and practices in North America date from the 1960s. Both Canada and the U. S. moved away from selection based mainly on source region, with most immigrants coming from Europe, to a more modern approach that resulted in large scale immigration from the developing world.

But Canada took a very different path than the United States. As seen in figure 1, it consciously chose a significantly higher immigration rate, and it also developed a much more highly managed system. The U. S. receives a greater number of immigrants because it is a much larger nation, but on a per-capita basis, immigration is much higher in Canada. We believe these two features almost always go together in developed economies: the higher the rate of immigration, the greater is the need for structured government management.