Immigrants in Self-Employment

About the study

This study examined immigrants’ self-employment trends in Canada. Using Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (1981-2010) and Survey of Self-Employment (2000), the study compared immigrant self-employment rates to that of the Canadian-born. The study further explored characteristics of self-employed workers, reasons for entering self-employment as well as self-employed workers’ preference for paid employment.


What can be learned from this study?

• The self-employment rates for immigrants and the non-immigrant population in Canada increased steadily until the late 2000s. By then, more immigrants (19 percent) were self-employed than the Canadian-born (15 percent).

•  The self-employment rate for immigrants increased (1.3 percentage points) during the period of economic downturn, while the difference was minimal (0.5 percentage points) for the Canadian-born.

• Self-employment was more prevalent among immigrants who had been living in Canada for a longer period (more than ten years) than recent immigrants. Age was the main factor.

• Self-employed immigrants and the Canadian-born were more likely to be university-educated compared to those in paid employment.

• Self-employed immigrants were more concentrated in trade and transportation industries, whereas, their Canadian-born counterparts were in agriculture and other industries. Also, more self-employed immigrants worked in management, sales and services.

• Immigrants were more likely than the Canadian-born to become self-employed because of ‘enterpreneurial values’ than ‘flexible work arrangements.’

• Immigrants, especially recent immigrants, were more likely to prefer paid employment.

• More immigrants were self-employed involuntarily than the Canadian-born.


What method(s) did the study use?

Analyses of Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (1981-2010) and Survey of Self-Employment (2000)