August 10, 2018 – Analysis of employment statistics from the 2016 Canadian census shows that Canada owes its vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and respect for innovation and creativity to the work ethic of immigrants. The top of the list include Koreans, Israelis, Taiwanese, Punjabis, with a host of other communities following suit.
The 2016 Statistics Canada study by Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration shows that numbers support the premise that residents with non-Canadian ethnic origins are more likely to start their own business in Canada.
Self Employed Data in the 2016 Census
The 2016 Census confirms:
- Self-employed persons between 45-54 years across Canada was dominated by immigrants from Korea, Israel, Taiwan, Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, along with members of the Jewish community.
- In Quebec, the list was dominated by Punjabi, Australian, Korea, Israeli, Syrian and Lebanese communities.
- 30% of Koreans in the same age group listed themselves as self employed, as opposed to the national average of 14% and 12% among native Canadians.
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Many Factors Beyond a Strong Work Ethic
That immigrants are more likely to become entrepreneurs is a well-researched concept with various studies finding similar trends in not just Canada but the USA as well. Reasons other than just affinity for hard work are contributing to the rising trend of immigrant entrepreneurship in Canada.
- Immigrants struggling to find employment often start a small business to sustain themselves and contribute to the economy.
- Canadian employment agencies encourage unsuccessful applicants to start their own ventures.
- Some communities, like Jewish, Gujarati, or Punjabi community, have strong entrepreneurial spirit and preference towards self employment.
- Some immigrant communities have specific skill sets suitable for self employment. With their expertise in operating local retail ventures, Koreans gravitate to own ventures while many Filipinos enter Canada as caregivers and, consequently, rank low in the list of self employed.
A Balanced and Mature Approach Required
A sweeping generalization suggesting self employment is superior or economically more valuable to taking up a job or vice versa is neither correct nor relevant.
Data covering ownership of companies by those in Canada for more than nine years shows 5.3% immigrants own a company as compared to 4.8% among Canada-born individuals. Yet, private firms owned by Canada-born entrepreneurs tend to be bigger than immigrant-owned firms.
So, any comparison between entrepreneurship and employment or immigrant and native entrepreneurs requires a nuanced and balanced view acknowledging Canada’s successful track record in extracting economic value from Canada-born as well as immigrant residents.
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