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About that EKOS poll

Summary:
A recent EKOS poll found "the incidence of [Canadians] thinking there are too many visible minorities is up significantly and no longer trails opposition to general immigration (as it has historically)." Here is a picture that shows the question EKOS asked, and the long-term trend in Canadians' responses to this question (click on the picture to make it bigger): The poll generated a certain amount of discussion (e.g. here and here). Andray Domise, writing in Macleans, observed: And given that Canada‘s immigrant population is fairly broadly distributed between a range of countries (unlike the U.S., for example, where the plurality of immigrants come from Mexico), there is no real basis in fact for this “too many visible minorities” sentiment. Only the deeply wonkish would have a

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A recent EKOS poll found "the incidence of [Canadians] thinking there are too many visible minorities is up significantly and no longer trails opposition to general immigration (as it has historically)."

Here is a picture that shows the question EKOS asked, and the long-term trend in Canadians' responses to this question (click on the picture to make it bigger):

20190415_slide1

The poll generated a certain amount of discussion (e.g. here and here). Andray Domise, writing in Macleans, observed:

And given that Canada‘s immigrant population is fairly broadly distributed between a range of countries (unlike the U.S., for example, where the plurality of immigrants come from Mexico), there is no real basis in fact for this “too many visible minorities” sentiment. Only the deeply wonkish would have a working knowledge of the ethnic makeup of Canada’s immigrant population, which effectively made EKOS’ poll a litmus test on Canadian racism.

Deeply wonkish? We're here, and we hear your call!

The 2016 long-form Census asked millions of Canadians about their ethnic origins, and their immigration history. Using the 2016 Census Public Use Microfile, I estimated the portion of immigrants living in Canada who are members of visible minorities by year of immigration (click on the picture for a bigger image).

Visible minorties in Canada

From 1885, when the head tax on Chinese immigrants was introduced, until the immigration reforms of the late 1960s/early 1970s, Canada did not welcome visible minority immigrants. However that changed in the 1970s and 1980s. The portion of immigrants who are members of visible minority groups has been hovering around 80 percent for 25 years.

For those who are interested in a detailed breakdown of immigrant cohorts into various visible minority groups, here is a .pdf with a detailed breakdown: Download Composition of immigrant cohorts by visible minority status. As these are survey numbers, they are subject to some margin of error. Small year-to-year fluctations in the composition of immigrants mostly reflect sampling variation. However large fluctuations are meaningful, such as the increase in Chinese immigration in the late 1990s prior to the handover of Hong Kong, as are the long-term trends.

 

Frances Woolley
I am a Professor of Economics at Carleton University, where I have taught since 1990. My research centres on families and public policy. My most-cited work is on modelling family-decision making, measuring inequality within the household, feminist economics, and tax-benefit policy towards families. I hold a BA from Simon Fraser University, an MA from Queen’s, and completed my doctorate at the London School of Economics, under the supervision of Tony Atkinson.

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