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International Mobility: Patterns of Exit and Return of Canadians, 1982 to 2003


  • Finnie, Ross


This paper exploits the unique strengths of the tax-based Longitudinal Administrative Database to measure the flows of Canadians to other countries and the patterns of return over the period from 1982 to 2003. Overall, approximately 0.1% (i.e., one tenth of 1%) of the adult population leaves the country in any given year. Departure rates have generally moved with the state of the Canadian economy, but the trends have clearly been driven by more than this: declining in the 1980s as the economy was going well; turning up towards the end of the decade, but before the economy began to stall in 1989; rising through the early part of the 1990s as the economy was mired in a deep recession, but then continuing to rise through 1997, by which time a strong recovery was underway; and then declining sharply since 2000-thus stemming what many had thought was an inexorable upwards trend-when economic factors were fairly stable. Departure rates decline with age (except for the youngest group); are lower for couples without children than other family types; are high for those in British Columbia, quite low for Francophone Quebecers, and very high for Anglophones in that province; are somewhat lower for those on Employment Insurance (formerly Unemployment Insurance) and substantially higher for those at higher-income levels; and are very much higher for recent immigrants. Departure rates for those at higher-income levels shifted upwards in the 1990s, but returned to pre-1990s rates in more recent years in the case of men, while the shift was maintained for women. Only a minority of those who leave ever return: about 15% within 5 years of their departure. Return rates have, however, increased significantly since 2000-mirroring to a large extent what was happening on the departure side.

Suggested Citation

  • Finnie, Ross, 2006. "International Mobility: Patterns of Exit and Return of Canadians, 1982 to 2003," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2006288e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  • Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:2006288e

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Finnie, Ross & Gray, David, 2002. "Earnings dynamics in Canada: an econometric analysis," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(6), pages 763-800, December.
    2. Ham, John C & Rea, Samuel A, Jr, 1987. "Unemployment Insurance and Male Unemployment Duration in Canada," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(3), pages 325-353, July.
    3. Gunderson, Morley & Melino, Angelo, 1990. "The Effects of Public Policy on Strike Duration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(3), pages 295-316, July.
    4. Stevens, Ann Huff, 1994. "The Dynamics of Poverty Spells: Updating Bane and Ellwood," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 34-37, May.
    5. Ann Huff Stevens, 1995. "Long-Term Effects of Job Displacement: Evidence from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 5343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Heckman, James J. & Singer, Burton, 1984. "Econometric duration analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 63-132.
    7. Helliwell, J.F., 1999. "Checking the Brain Drain: Evidence and Implications," Papers 99-3, Institute for Policy Analysis.
    8. repec:mes:challe:v:27:y:1984:i:2:p:59-61 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Ross Finnie & Arthur Sweetman, 2003. "Poverty dynamics: empirical evidence for Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 36(2), pages 291-325, May.
    10. Ross Finnie, 2004. "Who moves? A logit model analysis of inter-provincial migration in Canada," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(16), pages 1759-1779.
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    Cited by:

    1. Donna Feir & Randall Akee, 2018. "Estimating Institutionalization and Homelessness for Status First Nations in Canada: A Method and Implications," Department Discussion Papers 1801, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
    2. Akee, Randall K. Q. & Feir, Donna, 2016. "Excess Mortality, Institutionalization and Homelessness Among Status Indians in Canada," IZA Discussion Papers 10416, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Finnie, Ross, 2007. "International Mobility: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Effects on Individuals Earnings," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2007289e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.

    More about this item


    Employment and unemployment; Labour; Labour mobility; turnover and work absences; Mobility and migration; Population and demography;

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