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Quebec's Lackluster Performance in Interprovincial Migration and Immigration: How, Why, and What Can Be Done?


  • Kao-Lee Liaw
  • Lei Xu
  • Mingzhu Qi


In light of the persistent trend in Quebec's diminishing share of the Canadian population (from 28.9% in 1966 to 24.0% in 2000), this paper examines Quebec's roles in the life-time interprovincial migration of the Canada-born elderly, the initial destination choices of landed immigrants, and the post-landing relocations of immigrants. From the 1996 census data, we found that Quebec ended up with an overall net loss of 4.9% of Canada-born elderly lifetime migrants, which was highly selective of non-Francophones and moderately selective of those with better education and higher income. The selective net loss was rooted in the cultural disharmony between Quebec and the rest of Canada as well as Quebec's relative shortage of good economic opportunities. From the micro data on the landed immigrants, we found that Quebec attracted only 16.6% of Canada's 1980-99 landed immigrants, and that its share was highly selective by immigration class, language ability, and place of birth. Although the Quebec government got the exclusive responsibility for the selection of its independent immigrants since 1991, we have identified serious internal and external obstacles and constraints that prevent Quebec from getting enough immigrants to match its population share in the foreseeable future. From the 1980-95 data of linked records of landing and tax-filing, we found that the post-landing relocations of immigrants resulted in Quebec's net loss of 13% in three years after landing, and that the net loss was also highly selective by immigration class, language ability, and place of origin, but fortunately did not result in a larger net loss of the best educated immigrants. Some reasons for the selective losses were the non-French-speakers' difficulty in adjusting to the French milieu, the business immigrants' use of Quebec as a stepping stone to the rest of Canada, and the desire of most immigrants to have their children educated in English schools. In our opinion, the fundamental way to increase Quebec's share of new immigrants and to reduce its net losses of Canada-born and foreign- born migrants is to soften its restrictive language regulations and to help Quebeckers cultivate positive views on immigration. Adoption of foreign children, recruitment of third-world students and researchers in the universities and research institutes in French-speaking countries, and invitation of non-Francophone students from the rest of Canada to study in the French schools of Quebec are some viable options that can help reduce Quebec's loss in population share in the long-run without threatening its Frenchness.

Suggested Citation

  • Kao-Lee Liaw & Lei Xu & Mingzhu Qi, 2002. "Quebec's Lackluster Performance in Interprovincial Migration and Immigration: How, Why, and What Can Be Done?," Quantitative Studies in Economics and Population Research Reports 378, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:qseprr:378

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    Cited by:

    1. Lei Xu, 2007. "Characterization and Explanation of the 1996-2001 Inter-CMA Migration of the Second Generation in Canada," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 196, McMaster University.
    2. Lei Xu, 2007. "Inter-CMA Migration of the Immigrants in Canada: 1991-1996 and 1996-2001," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 195, McMaster University.

    More about this item


    immigration; Quebec; Canada;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy


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