Monday, June 18, 2012

Fareed Zakaria, a big fan of Canada’s immigration policies. Should he be?

In a CNN special on immigration, Fareed Zakaria chose Canada as the model that he thinks is an example of success.

I want to join the conversation about immigration from a different angle, because while the discussion is fierce from both sides, it is highly ideological, and idealism, as well as emotion, seems to trump facts and logic.

            From an economic point of view, the supporters of immigration are clearly in the driving seat when it comes to justifying their position, based on conventional economic theory.  Usually, it is the political right that is blessed with an easy to explain position when it comes to economics.  On this one, it is in fact the left that has a rare opportunity to shine.

            The economic argument for having a robust inflow of immigrants, centers around demand side economics, which is in fact the most relevant side in our economy, despite what people on the right might claim.  Demand is the true driver of economic activity.  An inflow of immigrants can sustain demand for goods, especially where natural population growth is stunted as is the case in most of the western world.  A good example of the benefits to a local economy derived from immigration is Canada, since the 2008 crisis.  Demand for housing remained robust, despite the initial panic of 2008, which I have to admit surprised me, because I expected Canada’s housing market to follow on the path of the US.  This underlying support, together with healthy government finances, kept Canada from experiencing the same fate as most of the rest of the western world.

            Aside from keeping demand going, it helps keep the population younger, since most who immigrate are young.  Immigration also helps harness skills and abilities from other countries, which in today’s economy is crucial.

Alright then, it is settled.  Immigration is good for us in the present and for our future!!!

            Not so fast!!!  There are also some downsides, which are harder to explain, but they are important to identify and deal with.  Opponents of immigration struggle to formulate an effective argument against immigration.  They try to use simple arguments, because they know from experience that arguments need to be kept simple and digestible.  So the arguments they make tend to be weak and easily exposed as false.

The number one argument is that immigrants take jobs from the local population.  This is false on many counts.  Low skilled workers, who come to work certain jobs, really are taking jobs that not many locals would willingly take, especially given the wages.  Take farm workers for instance.  It is often back breaking work.  I really don’t think there would be many Americans for instance who would be willing to pick melons in the summer heat, for minimum wage.  I would pay money to see some fierce opponents of immigrants, such as Lou Dobbs, go and pick melons for a week, and then ask him whether he still thinks that the farm laborers, who worked along side him, took the jobs from Americans.  There is of course an argument to be made that perhaps wages would rise if all the foreign farm laborers in a country like US were to be sent home, and then many Americans would be willing to take those jobs.  We have to ask ourselves however what the resulting food inflation would do to the economy.  As prices would go up drastically, it would cut into the income of the consumer, causing them to cut back on consuming everything else.  The result would be catastrophic.  We should also remember that an increase in population increases demand for goods and services, which will be met by offering people jobs to produce and sell those goods and services

There are of course many skilled immigrants who come on a student visa, or as skilled workers. On balance, it is hard to argue that these people are a net loss to the economy.  Other countries put in the effort to educate them and teach them valuable skills, and then they go ahead and take those abilities somewhere else.

There are other arguments that the political right invokes to oppose immigration, such as:  They are a burden on the social safety net.  They feed the criminal networks, or create them as they come.  The immigration system lets in too many Muslims who want to convert us, impose Sharia law, or behead us.  Even the concept that they bring disease with them is often cited, as it was in the famous book “Alien Nation” written by Peter Brimelow.  All these arguments are weak in my opinion.  They are however in keeping with the desire of the political right to maintain a simple, straight forward argument, which can easily be understood and thus they hope it will catch on.  They do not want to fall in the trap of the left, which is most often stuck with positions that require a great deal of analysis and explanation, except for immigration, as I mentioned.

The harder to explain downsides to Immigration:

            I want to start by explaining that I do not necessarily want to talk about these negative side-effects of the current immigration trends in an effort to oppose immigration.  I was born in Europe, and I am now a Canadian citizen, so it is not as if I am some sort of nativist, who wants to call for everyone else to stay out.  There are nevertheless many negative side-effects that come with the benefits of immigration, and since the pro-immigration left will not discuss this, while the right tends to shy away from anything that is too complex to explain, or contradicts with other aspects of their ideology, these issues have by default been left as orphans in our discourse.  I will here address these negative aspects of immigration, which I believe should be talked about, not necessarily in order to promote an anti-immigration culture, but to recognize, be aware and address these problems.

            The first aspect I want to discuss is the environmental aspect.  Those who read my other works, might have noticed by now that most of what I write is dedicated to sustainability.  One of the obvious facts is that as an immigrant comes to a developed country, from an underdeveloped country, that individual’s environmental footprint grows.

            To get a sense of this, based on EIA data, someone who moves from Romania, where I was born, to Canada, on average increases his/her greenhouse gas emissions by almost four fold.  Someone coming to the US from India, which is the case with Mr. Fareed Zakaria, will increase his/her emissions by about 15 times, and someone moving to Canada from Kenya will increase his/her emissions by over 50 times.  Generally, the same people who support environmental issues also tend to be supportive of immigration.  The main economic argument to support immigration is the benefit of gaining more consumers, and keeping the momentum going.  Economics is a lot about momentum.  Environmentalists however argue that we should consume less.  So, as we can see, there is a real conflict of interests, which in typical left wing fashion, people choose to ignore, and pretend it does not exist.  This fact can be recognized and used in many ways.  We can choose to address it by encouraging more efficiency.  We can choose to address it by deciding to lessen the interest of people to move to a country like Canada by addressing the problems that caused people to want to move in the first place, as well as addressing Canada’s economic addiction to immigration and population growth.  One thing that should not be done, is to pretend that this issue does not exist.

            The next issue I want to address is a social one, which ends up affecting negatively the economy as well as individuals, through the promotion of values that we used to pretend that were unacceptable, yet little by little we came to accept.  We think of ourselves as a society based on the principle of meritocracy.  In other words, people are taken to their value, based on skill, not on who they are.  Nepotism however is increasingly becoming the new acceptable norm, which we re-named as “networking”, and it is very harmful.  The reason that immigration is not a positive in this respect, is because in a society where nepotism is king, ethnic based nepotism, which is increasingly prominent as many ethnic communities grow to more significant, and in some cases dominant levels, can serve to institutionalize it, and cause it to create in time, a social system, not unlike the caste system in India.

            I have very little to offer in terms of hard data on this issue, because there are few studies done on it.  I noticed however in Canada for instance that ethnic based nepotism in increasingly a prominent aspect of society.  Chinese professors for example have a tendency to favor bringing into their research laboratories exclusively Chinese students and staff, to the detriment of the rest.  Large communities tend to thrive in these circumstances, while smaller ethnic communities will find it harder to progress, leading to marginalizing of some.  The native born Canadian society, with no strong ethnic ties, while prone to nepotism to some extent, based on friendships, does not play at the same level from my observation as some of the large ethnic communities do, leaving them at a net disadvantage.  In other words, there will be a place for Chinese students or staff in a lab, or business run by a Canadian born individual with no strong ethnic ties, or someone born in Europe, but we cannot always say that the reverse is true as well.

            The harm done to the economy is great indeed, and in the absence of addressing this particular issue, it will get much worse.  The net effect from an economic point of view is that we end up under-utilizing the workforce.  In Canada’s case, where immigration flows are currently dominated by a number of Asian countries such as India, China and the Philippines, this can eventually lead to a loss of social cohesion, and even conflict.

            The last aspect I want to touch on is connected to the above issue somewhat, in that it is in part a result of Canada’s nepotism, which is increasingly becoming dominated by ethnicity based nepotism.  There are also legal and cultural institutions that play a role.  There is a segment of society that ends up taking it from all aspects on this issue, yet it is unpopular to talk about it and come to their defense.  Like I said, ethnic based nepotism fills an increasingly large chunk of available positions.  Then there is the friendship and kin based nepotism.  A large chunk of jobs, especially in government and companies looking to gain contracts with the federal government, are filled based on gender or visible minority status. This all leaves a particular segment of Canada’s population out in the cold. I am talking about lower to middle class white male Canadians, or recent white males coming from Eastern Europe.  They are discriminated against by law.  They have little chance to rub elbows with established people who would help them, because they were born in the wrong family, and there is now the increasing trend of ethnic based nepotism, which keeps them out of an increasing number of avenues for a career, given that more and more people of different ethnic backgrounds control those avenues, and they will favor their own.  Culturally speaking, there is little sympathy for this group of people.  I still remember a conversation I heard between two girls more than a decade ago.  They were basically saying that they do not feel all that much sympathy if they hear that a white man has been or is being discriminated against.  This may not represent the actual opinion of the majority, but given the fact that they were discussing this in public, without anyone reproaching them for it, tells us just how acceptable it has become.

            This discrimination will not show up in statistics, and there is a reason for that.  Given Canada’s economic structure, there are plenty of well paying jobs that are being shunned by large segments of the population.  I worked in construction for almost three years in Winnipeg.  During all that time, going to dozens of construction sites, I did not see a single Chinese worker.  I met only one East Indian worker, who worked for a drywall company.  These two ethnic groups combined make up over 10% of Winnipeg’s population.

            From my experience in Winnipeg, I can say that perhaps about 80% of construction workers in that particular town are white males, while they make up only about a quarter of the general population.  Native Americans made up the second largest segment in the field.  Like I said, these are jobs that pay better than average, thanks to the “dirty job” premium.  From a statistical perspective, this actually shows on paper that there may be some wage inequalities and there may be some discrimination in Canada, in favor of white males.  Statistics do not always tell the real story however.

The reality is that many of the people working in this field are content to do so.  I do not believe however that it is either fair, or good for Canada’s economy to limit career avenues for a large segment of the population to jobs that are available to them, only because most other people find it demeaning to get their hands dirty.  My three year experience of working in construction also taught me the “surprising” fact that not all white males have a natural aptitude for construction.  Same goes for other jobs that pay very well in Canada, but are dirty, and often requires people to forego the opportunity to have a normal family life, such as mining in remote areas.  Maybe some of them may have an aptitude for working in diplomacy, but they will never get their foot through the door.  Some may have an aptitude for research, but an increasing number of laboratories are run by people who prefer their own ethnic kin.

There are many other things that can go on the list of things that people should know about the negative aspects of Canada’s immigration system.  Fareed Zakaria correctly pointed out that Canada attracts a large number of skilled and educated people through the points system.  Most immigrants will tell you however that their skills end up being under-utilized for many years, or even permanently, because while the points system recognizes their skills, the law and the labor market does not.  It is true that thanks to demand from a high influx of immigrants, Canada’s housing market never suffered a downturn.  Canadians however earn no more than their neighbors to the south, yet they pay twice as much for housing (average price of houses sold is $375,000, as of May).  This leaves many young people unable to start a family, leaving Canada even more dependent on immigration in order to increase its population, or even to keep it from declining.  Canadian families are also now more indebted than Americans were in 2007, right before all hell broke loose.

Immigration also has a negative side-effect for many of the countries that provide the immigrants.  In the region of Eastern Europe there is a real danger of many countries such as Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Moldova, suffering a complete demographic collapse.  The population of Romania for instance declined from 23.5 million in 1990, to 19 million in 2011.  Immigration is responsible for the most part, because Romania had one of the youngest populations in Europe in 1990, so the ratio of births to deaths only started having a major negative impact in the last five years or so.  This is something we have never seen in modern history, so we are not sure what to expect.  My guess is that we are looking at a serious danger of major defaults in the region in the next few decades.  If the current situation in Greece taught us anything, it would have to be that the global financial system can easily be shaken to its core by even small countries or regions that may face difficulties.  The more interconnected we become, the more complex the global economic system becomes, and the danger of systemic risks increases correspondingly.

Countries that do have a positive population growth rate also tend to be countries that have very few people of superior knowledge and skills.  Countries like Pakistan lose their engineers and other skilled people to countries like Canada.  Many of them end up driving cabs or delivering pizza for many years, before they manage to get certified to work in their field, if it ever happens for them at all.  This means that from a global perspective, we end up under-utilizing the workforce of the “global village”.

A comment Fareed Zakaria tried to make that Canada is under-populated, and in need of emigrants for that reason, I have to strongly disagree with.  It is the world overall which is overpopulated, and study after study has been warning us that this is not sustainable.  In the case of Canada, at this point as the population grows, it is in fact leading to urban sprawl, at the expense of farmland and natural habitat.

We could continue digging further, and we would find many other downsides to Canada’s immigration policy, as I’m also sure that I overlooked many of the positive aspects.  The important thing is to remember that we should not shy away from discussing every aspect of it, whether good or bad.  When there are negative side-effects, it is important to identify and deal with them, before they deal with us.  We have to forget the left/right narrow box that such topics get confined in, because it is harmful, as is the case with every other problem they hijack and use for their political battles.  It is our fault that we let ourselves get caught up in it.


  1. There are several reason for Irish immigration to America. Moving overseas to work has become a very popular option for many people. They chose to do it for many different reasons. Some enjoy the travel opportunities, others want the professional development, others go because of the limited job opportunities in their home country, and others want new cultural experiences.For more info click here

    1. Thanks for your response. However, I should point out that the article is about some of the downsides to immigration, which we have a hard time having a conversation about as a society. I never called into question people's desires and needs to immigrate, just some of the claims made by chearleaders of immigration in terms of benefits, which never take into acount any downsides. I also pointed out the flawed arguments comming from the right, which actually serves to strengten the argument of the pro-immigration left, by exposing themselves to charges of intolerance. A charge that usually sticks even when the rare occurence of someone pointing out the real problems of immigration may occur, by automatically branding such a person as belonging to the same gang of intolerant biggots.

  2. I have noticed some of this nepotism you describe, mostly with Chinese and Indians. I don't think it continues among the children of first generation immigrants (including those born in another country but raised in Canada). When I was working in IT in Toronto, for my first summer job, my boss was Canadian born of Indian background. I would definitely say he associated more with Canada than India, and his employees included people of various ethnic backgrounds, and Canadian born, Canadianized and less integrated immigrants. My mother moved to Canada from Hungary as a young adult and definitely considers herself Canadian, she feels like an outsider in Hungary now.

    I think part of the nepotism you describe is related to difficulties immigrants have integrating with problems transfering skills, especially if they struggle communicating in English. A Chinese employer can hire another Chinese person and not have to worry about the language issues. They'd likely have a better understanding of how a Chinese education differs from a Canadian one, what Chinese university have a good reputation, how to address gaps, etc.

    Also, I would say that in many fields, less integrated immigrants are under represented among managers/employers, so the advantage native Canadians have by knowing English and having a Canadian education can likely outweight the negative networking effects.

    I also am not sure if certain immigrant groups will ever become that dominant. Since I think immigrants do eventually become integrated, at least if they move as children or young adults (they will certainly be integrated if they are Canadian born), if immigration from a country shifts, they will become less dominant. And immigration patterns do shift, immigration from China seems to be declining, as well as immigration from Pakistan, Korea and Eastern Europe while immigration from the Philippines, Latin America, Western Europe, the Middle East and North African seems to be increasing.

    Philippino immigrants seem to be by far the fastest growing group, and from my impression, they mix more than some of the immigrant groups. You notice this with settlement patterns for instance. If you look at the Toronto language quilt by the Toronto Star for instance, you see that Philippino immigrants are scattered across a large area of the GTA. Any favouritism of certain areas could be explained by the cost of housing, or access to transit. This is unlike Chinese immigrants which seemed to be focussing very disproportionately on settling in the Birchmount/Steeles area. In a way, this makes sense since the Philippines were much more exposed to Western culture.

    1. Thanks for your comment Nick. I do agree that in the past, second generation ethnic based nepotism diminished. Some evidence to the contrary in recent times comes from the Vancouver area, where there is a more pronounced trend of clustering. A recent study found that basically, the majority of Vancouver's population prefers to interact within their own ehtnic community ( I refered to this study in my article called "Human Capital"). Evidence of clustering is becoming more prominent elsewhere as well. In Winnipeg for instance, it is seen in both the East Indian and the Phillipino communities.
      The important thing to understand is that we can expect this trend to amplyfy due to two main factors. There is a large influx of immigrants with a strong sense of ethnic identity, while the traditionally European population is shrinking due to natality issues. A shrinking population can never absorb a growing population. This is a new factor that was not in play just a few decades ago. People's perception is based on past experience, which is no longer as valid.
      The second important factor, if you may have noticed is that the economy is not what it used to be, as of 2008. While the "experts" tell us that the good times are just around the corner, my personal opinion is that this is the new reality for the next few decades. In a crummy economy, competition for jobs and in business amplifies. With that so will nepotism, and ethnic based nepotism will gradually become more prominent. Second generation Chinese and East Indians as well as others will re-discover their roots and value them more deeply when they realize the benefit of it.

    2. What exactly is the benefit? From what I can tell, there is not much of a benefit to the Chinese and East Indians who hire from their own ethnicity, other than the fact that there might be some good talent that was left behind due to language barriers. Mostly though, I think it's basically charity and trying to help people who are going through the same difficulties they went through when they immigrated. Wouldn't harder economic times make this sort of semi-charitable activity less likely?

      By the way, I looked at the number of people with only English as a mother tongue in the Toronto CMA. According to Statscan, it went up by 8.5%, while people with only French as a mother tongue went up by 7.8% and people with a non-official language as a mother tongue went up by only 4.1%, mostly due to the decline of several European languages (but also Vietnamese). Overall population increased by 9.3% and multiple mother tongues increased by 72.5%.

      I would like to see less clustering of immigrant groups though. As I said, some of them seem to scatter out quite a lot, like Philipinos, Pakistanis, Latin Americans and Arabs. However, Sikhs and Chinese unfortunately seem to cluster a lot. I find that second or third generation Chinese I know that grew up in a more diverse (ex Mississauga) or ethnically Canadian area (ex Oakville) are very much Canadian (non hyphenated). There's a couple guys I know from Mississauga of Chinese background, but I often feel like I know a lot more about China than they do...

      My parents are Hungarian and French Canadian, but I have to say, I wouldn't feel any closer to someone just because they're Hungarian or French Canadian. It would be a bit interesting to find out they are, since there are few of either group around here, and I do know more than average about each country/culture, but that's pretty much it.

      Some areas, like North York and Mississauga are pretty diverse, even at the neighbourhood level, in that not only are there a lot of immigrants, but it's immigrants from different backgrounds, which I think is a good thing, since kids in the schools there will have to learn to fit in with kids that aren't from the same background. Unfortunately, in Brampton, Scarborough and Markham, you have much more monocultures in the immigrant communities.

      Are there areas in Winnipeg with more than, say 30% of the population from a certain immigrant group? Does Vancouver have significant immigrant communities with a large variety of immigrants? For example, the middle class area of North York around Yonge Street has Koreans, Persians, Russians, Italians, Chinese, South Asians and English Canadians all in significant numbers. Poorer Jane-Finch has Vietnamese, Latin Americans, Jamaicans, Tamils, East Africans, Italians and Chinese all in significant numbers. However, Agincourt North is around 60-85% Chinese.

    3. I believe the Maples area in Winnipeg might qualify as having more than 30% of a certain ethnicity. In fact it is dominated by two large ethnic groups. One is Phillipino, and the other East Indian. The two combined make up about 50% at least.

      Since you say you have Hungarian roots, I recomend you read up a little bit on the history of Transylvania. It is known by historians as being the first state in Europe to adopt a law on religious tolerance in the 16'th century. How did that work out for the Hungarians in Transylvania and Banat? Hint, the region is now part of Romania, and the ethnic Hungarian population has gone from one third to just 18% in less than 100 years, and prospects of continued survival are not good, because the cohesion of the comunities have been afected by certain policies implemented in the past, and there will be more policies to come. For instance the two counties that still have a Hungarian majority are to be incorporated in larger super-counties in 2014, taking away what little decision making power they still had. Looking back, perhaps less tolerance for others might have saved an important part of the Hungarian culture.

      I am not necesarily advocating intolerance mind you, I am however advocating that people be aware that the story we are currently writting, does not necesarily have to have the happy ending that Canadian society expects (due to ideology rather than logic), so perhaps a bit of caution and willingness to at least put the currently dominant ideologic dogma aside, and take a step back and reflect cannot hurt. In fact Canadian history itself is a testament to it. Perhaps some more intolerant atitudes would have done wonders for the natives early on, preventing the Europeans from establishing a foothold. If one would have asked many natives in the 17'th or 18'th centuries, many might have seen the arival of the Europeans as a blessing. They traded for goods that they had no hope of manufacturing themselves, such as rifles and many metal tools, which for a while, actually improved their lives. How would natives respond now if asked what the arival of the Europeans did to them?

      I think, given the current global context of a large Asian population, backed by their growing power at the base, could easily lead to a situation where many members of smaller communities, or with no specific ethnic afiliation in Canada can end up finding themselves marginalized in time by the growing influx of very distinct ethnic communities with strong ethnic coheshion.

      By the way, the birth rate of Canadians is around 1.6, which is way bellow replacement rate, and we should also keep in mind that in many comunities which as I mentioned are highly cohesive, second or even third generation Canadians still see themselves as belonging to that community first and the wider Canadian community second. The study I recomended in our first exchange in regards to Vancouver, prety much describes that to be the case. I recomend you read it.

  3. I thought I'd look into the 2011 census data to see if any of my hypotheses are confirmed. One thing I looked at were the top mother tongues in a few Canadian CMAs and how their numbers compared to the top languages spoken most commonly at home. If there is a large reduction from mother tongue to language spoken at home, that suggests that speakers of that language are more likely to integrate into Canadian culture. So here's the percent decrease from mother tongue to language most commonly spoken at home, ranked by most common mother tongues.

    Toronto CMA

    English: -24.63% (ie a fair bit of people with non-English mother tongues speak English at home)
    Chinese: 22.85% (includes Mandarin and Cantonese)
    Italian: 77.05%
    Panjabi: 27.57% (mostly Sikhs from Punjab Province of India)
    Spanish: 38.86%
    Tagalog: 52.26% (from Philipines)
    Urdu: 34.50% (from Pakistan)
    Tamil: 23.84% (Sri Lanka/Southern India)
    Portuguese: 49.33%
    Persian: 29.01% (Iran)
    Russian: 28.56%
    Polish: 47.94%
    Arabic: 44.21%
    French: 55.26%
    Gujarati: 36.97% (Gujurat is a province in India)
    Korean: 25.68%
    Vietnamese: 27.79%
    Greek: 56.51%
    German: 88.43%
    Hindi: 47.28%
    Bengali: 29.60%
    Ukrainian: 53.52%
    Romanian: 38.22%
    Serbian: 37.82%
    Hungarian: 55.31%

    You also have to consider how recently certain immigrant groups came to Canada. Italians mostly came in a big wave after WWII, but there have been much fewer Italian immigrants in recent decades. People with Italian as a mother tongue likely lived in Canada for quite a bit longer than immigrants from Asia. Nonetheless, Filipinos (Tagalog), Arabs, and some South Asian groups seem quite likely to take up English. However, Chinese, as well as Korean, Vietnamese, Tamils and Punjabis/Sikhs and interestingly Iranians and Russians too, are less likely to take up English.

    1. Winnipeg CMA (only did top 20 since Winnipeg has fewer immigrants).

      English: -15.93%
      Tagalog: 45.33%
      French: 58.35%
      German: 80.51%
      Chinese: 27.98%
      Ukrainian: 83.08%
      Panjabi: 24.68%
      Polish: 63.82%
      Spanish: 46.02%
      Portuguese: 58.59%
      Russian: 31.74%
      Italian: 70.57%
      Aboriginal Languages: 73.43%
      Vietnamese: 24.53%
      Arabic: 35.20%
      Korean: 17.56%
      Dutch: 93.79%
      Persian: 29.84%
      Urdu: 41.33%
      Hindi: 47.88%

      Again, you have Tagalog, Urdu, Arabic and Hindi leading the pack among Asian languages for taking up English at home, and Vietnamese, Korean, Panjabi and Chinese lagging the Asian languages. It's hard to say this has anything to do with the dominance of the mother tongues in Winnipeg since Tagalog is a far more common mother tongue than any of the other Asian languages.

      Russian and to a lesser degree, Spanish, lag the European languages, same as for Toronto. I'm not sure about Winnipeg, but in Toronto, Russian is one of the fastest growing mother tongues, so it could be because Russians immigrated later than other Europeans. Same goes for Hispanophones, many of which are likely Latin American. Winnipegers with non-English European mother tongues seem more likely to take up English than Torontonians, which could be because English is not as dominant in Toronto. Interestingly, this same pattern does not hold true for the Asian languages, both Asian Winnipegers and Asian Torontonians seem about equally likely to take up English.

    2. Vancouver CMA (top 25)

      English: -22.27%
      Chinese: 23.48%
      Panjabi: 25.38%
      Tagalog: 54.14%
      Korean: 20.52%
      Persian: 30.59%
      Spanish: 47.04%
      German: 87.06%
      Hindi: 49.06%
      Vietnamese: 31.21%
      Italian: 71.81%
      Japanese: 48.78%
      Russian: 34.77%
      Polish: 59.00%
      Arabic: 39.95%
      Portuguese: 62.70%
      Dutch: 91.27%
      Urdu: 35.05%
      Romanian: 48.15%
      Gujarati: 52.91%
      Serbian: 37.26%
      Hungarian: 69.56%
      Croatian: 64.43%
      Greek: 64.90%

      The trend is again similar with some minor differences, Tagalog, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi as well as Gujarati and Japanese lead the Asian languages and Chinese, Panjabi and Korean are further behind. Russian again lags the European languages although Hispanophones are more likely to take up English.

      Vancouver has a slightly higher portion of people with English as a mother tongue than Toronto, but Chinese languages and Panjabi dominate the immigrant languages much more than in Toronto, making up 51% of immigrant mother tongues by population compared to 23% for Toronto (24% if you replace Panjabi with Italian which is a slightly more common mother tongue in Toronto). Since Chinese and Panjabi speakers are more likely to retain their mother tongue as the language they speak at home, they make up 61% of immigrant home languages (28% in Toronto).

      In any case, China and India are now the source of barely more than 10% of immigrants each, so hopefully the balance among immigrant groups will be somewhat restored so that Chinese and Indians aren't as dominant.

    3. I've also looked at a sample of census tracts to get a feel for how the distribution of immigrants might affect how likely they are to take up English. It seems like the higher the percentage of people with immigrant mother tongues, the less likely these people are to switch to English as the language spoken at home, and the less likely they are to actually have a knowledge of an official language. When comparing census tract with comparable levels of immigrant mother tongues, places dominated by a single language also seem less likely to adopt English than census tracts with a greater variety of immigrant languages. Poorer areas also seem to be associated with lower levels of adopting English, but I don't know if they are poor because of that, or if the fact that they are poor means they are more likely recent immigrants that haven't had as much time to adopt English, or if the poverty has made it more difficult for them to learn English.

      Anyways, I'm not saying it's not possible for a country to become overwhelmed by a certain immigrant group at the exclusion of locals and more minor immigrant groups, especially if there's an emphasis on diversity instead of integration or assimilation of immigrants. I'm just wondering how severe and widespread this risk is in Canada.

    4. I'm not especially familiar with the history of Transylvania, and I think demographic data is somewhat limitted for periods prior to 1900. However, I don't think the situation with Hungarians there really proves your point. Although Transylvania was under Hungarian rule for a while, it was always a frontier province. I think it was always surrounded by Romanian dominated areas. The Hungarians in Transylvania often consider themselves distinct from other Hungarians too. And did Banat ever have a truly significant Hungarian population?

      The history of Transylvania is pretty varied too and never really comparable to that of Canada. From the 16th century, it was for a long time an Ottoman vassal state, then ruled by the Hapsburg, then underwent a period of Magyarization which still failed to result in Hungarians dominating any areas outside Eastern Transylvania (which they still dominate today). During most of the period when the Hungarian share of the population decreased in the last century, the area was under Romanian control, and there was a policy of Romanianization.

      After the fall of the communism, when Romania was more acceptant towards the Hungarians, they were already a rather small minority in Transylvania. The Romanian population there was also shrinking, just not as fast as the Hungarians. I wouldn't be surprised if that had more to do with Hungarian emigration to Hungary than Romanian migration into Transylvania.

      The fact that Romanians outnumbered Hungarians in Transylvania for centuries also meant they had much less of a reason to adopt Hungarian culture than the immigrant groups to Canada who are still a minority. The Hungarians were mostly overwhelmed by a single ethnic group (Romanians) while in Canada, there is a much greater variety of ethnic groups making up immigrants. Another difference is that current Western society requires one to be able to communicate well with your peers to be successful, and it certainly helps to fit in socially, which makes for greater motivation to adopt the local culture and language.

      In the more distant past (and Communist Europe), employment was much more manual labour where you just needed to know how to hold a hammer or what not, so the only reason you would want to adopt the local culture and language is if yours is being discriminated against (not uncommon in those times). With the Natives of Canada, you again had much larger waves of immigration, coupled with high birth rates and diseases wiping out much of the Natives. The immigrants were mostly dominated by one ethnic group too (first French, then English, then Irish), by the time the more diverse groups of European immigrants came, the Natives were already a relatively small minority in Canada. The Europeans also had a much greater advantage in terms of wealth and technology pretty much from the get go. Aside from a few French very early on who became the Metis, I the Europeans also had rather little interest in adopting the Native cultures.

  4. In order for immigrants to fail to integrate, they would need to carve out their own ethnic enclaves where the people in their neighbourhood, their schools and their workplaces are all from the same ethnic group. I think this is mostly a situation that appies to a portion (not all) of the Chinese population, and to a lesser degree Sikhs in Vancouver, and to a lesser degree, these two ethnic groups in Toronto. This might lead to some ethnic nepotism, and much stronger emphasis on diversity than adopting Canadian culture probably play a role in this situation. I guess the question is whether this phenomenon is prevalent enough to really take hold and grow, or whether it whether these ethnic enclaves will eventually fade in significance, as has been the case with the Italian, Polish and Portuguese enclaves of Toronto relative to the Canadian population. Even Chinatown in Toronto is not as significant as it used to be, and the Chinese area in the NW suburbs of Toronto doesn't seem to be expanding or getting more concentrated. The number of people with a Chinese language as a mother tongue in Toronto has only gone up by 6.6% from 2006 to 2011 compared to 8.5% for English and 9.2% for the population as a whole.

    1. Where does it say that Chinese are less likely to mix in Vancouver, and that the trend continues for second/third generations? It only says 65% of Metro Vancouver residents think people prefer to be in the same group as their own, but that doesn't mean they themselves prefer to stick to their own, it means they think others feel that way. However, 70% (and 73% of Chinese) of say they feel welcome in Metro Vancouver and like they belong.

      South Asians are supposedly the most likely to have friends outside their ethnic group, not hugely surprising since they are less numerous than Chinese or whites. Chinese are also less likely to be friends with their neighbours, and newcomers have a harder time to make friends. My impression from the survey is more that Chinese in Vancouver are more likely to feel like outsiders, rather than not being interested in fitting in. It's not too surprising, given that China is one of the countries least affected by Western colonization, and one of the most different culturally from the West in general.

      The fact that Chinese are slightly less likely to have conversation with even a single neighbour on a regular basis doesn't necessarily suggest they aren't interested in getting to know non-Chinese. Odds are that most Chinese have one or two Chinese neighbours, and the survey suggest they don't even to talk to them that often. It seems like it's more because Chinese are less likely to be as social.

      Further in the study, it also says Chinese who live mostly among other Chinese are less likely to have a strong sense of community.

      Canadian born Chinese are also more likely than the average Vancouverite to have more friends from a different ethnic group. Foreign born Chinese are less likely than average to have friends outside their ethnic group, and Chinese as a whole are slightly more likely to have friends outside their ethnic group than the average Vancouverite. Although Chinese have fewer people within their own ethnic group to pick friends from than Caucassians, this still goes against the idea that Chinese are more likely to stick their own (especially Canadian-born).

  5. Thanks for your replies Nick. I apreciate your interest in the subject. Most importantly, I apreciate the willingness to discus it. I have to say however that having read your responses, it makes me feel like you are arguing against arguments that others have made in the past in regards to immigration, rather than the contents of my article. My concern was never the lack of integration. in fact, I think if anything we should expect more and more immigrants to speak one of the official languages upon arival, due to the fact that there is a relatively high proportion of the immigrant population, which is highly educated. My concern is that in our every day search to compete on the job market as well as in business, increasingly, we may resort to our ethnic ties as a competitive tool, which will favor the stronger communities, over the weaker. This is logical if you think about it, after all it is no longer a little dirty secret that most jobs are landed through "networking". What better way to keep in touch with a large network than to be a part of the ethnic community you belong to, especially if it is a large and growing one? In effect, circumstances currently favor ethic clustering, and apparently it shows in the demographic evolution of the last few decades. In 1980, there were six neighbourhouds with more than 30% of population belonging to a visible minority, now there are 260.
    As I said, it is increasingly obvious that there are competitive advantages to belonging to large, cohesive ethnic communities. Every time there is such an advantage, the behaviour patern favoring it, will win out. Do not get me wrong, for I by no means want to say that these communities will become completely inward looking, but rather that they are becoming venues where one finds alies to band together with, whenever there is an advantage to be gained through collective action.

    1. I am also concerned with the fact that there are few historical examples where growing demographic entities were absorbed by dwindling ones. In fact the example of Transylvania is a good one, which suggests that Canadians should not necesarily expect a happy ending. Around the year 1500, the total population of the Hungarian Kingdom was around 4 million, of which most estimates put the ethnic Hungarian population at 3 million. The total population of Transylvania (part of the Hungarian kingdom) was roughly 700 k, out of which, I doubt that more than 300 k were ethnic Romanian. following the defeat of the Hungarian army at Mohacs in 1526, there was a roughly two century period which actually saw a decline in the abslolute number of ethnic Hungarians, while by 1918 Transylvania's Romanian population increased to over 2.5 million, so an almost ten-fold increase in 400 years. Here we have an example of changes in demographics, which for a long time Hungarians did not see as a source of danger, which in fact did cause them great harm. On the other hand, I cannot come up with a single historical precedent, similar to Canada's current course, which did have a happy ending.

      In investment circles, there are people who issue this common warning about claiming that "this time it is different" when examining a trend. In effect Canadian society is claiming it is different this time, not out of logical but ideological convictions. It is of course true that sometimes it is indeed different. I often pointed this out on my blog and in my book, but it is the exception rather than the rule, so it may only happen in rare circumstances. It is in other words a gamble, and it seems Canadian society failed to consider the posible severe downsides.

      By the way, I also think when it comes to a few communities which are currently growing fast,such as the Chinese, we also have to put it into the larger global perspective and recognize that they are also a part of a growing global power, which they identify with. A growing power, which just in the past month poured about $20 billion into Canada's resource sector, including the $15 billion Nexen deal. One has to wonder, how long before such companies will require an increasing number of their Canadian based employees to speak both English and Chinese. How will the prospects for competing on the job market look then for those who will remain part of the growing Chinese community, versus those who are not part of the community?