Discrimination Against Skilled Immigrants in the Canadian Labor Market

Discrimination based on nationality and ethnicity affects job applicants throughout the world. In Canada, skilled immigrants struggle in the labor market, facing substantially higher levels of unemployment and lower wages than non-immigrants.

In a randomized evaluation, J-PAL affiliate Philip Oreopoulos randomly manipulated thousands of resumes to measure the effects that foreign experience and ethnic-sounding names have on callback rates from employers.

The researchers found evidence of substantial discrimination against applicants with foreign names. Although employers suggested that lower callback rates might be due to fears about language fluency, the randomized evaluation showed that signals for English language skills did not increase callback rates for resumes with foreign names. The results also indicated that job experience in Canada increased callback rates for foreign-born individuals.

Read the full evaluation summary on the J-PAL North America website.

Study cited: Oreopoulos, Philip. 2011. “Why Do Skilled Immigrants Struggle in the Labor Market? A Field Experiment with Thirteen Thousand Resumes.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 3(4): 148-171.

Author: Carolyn Ruh

Carolyn Ruh is an Undergraduate Policy Intern at J-PAL North America. As a Policy Intern, Carolyn helps write summaries of research articles and updates the J-PAL North America blog. Carolyn is currently studying economics at Boston College with a minor in Faith, Peace and Justice. She has previously worked with ACCION East, a nonprofit in Cambridge that provides small business loans throughout the United States.

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