Migration trends in Asia

Increasing number of Asian women emigrating could impact Canada

Date published: 4/3/2012 12:00:00 PM

According to projections published in February 2012 by Statistics Canada, within 50 years Canada could depend exclusively on immigration for its population growth. In 2010, half of Canada’s new permanent residents came from the Asia-Pacific region. It is therefore essential for Canada to better understand migration trends in Asian countries.

SSHRC-funded demographer and sociologist Danièle Bélanger also holds the Canada Research Chair in Population, Gender and Development at Western University in London, Ontario. Bélanger is particularly interested in Asian women emigrants, who represent a steadily growing proportion of all emigrants from Asian countries. In the Philippines, for example, women now account for 70 per cent of all emigrants.

“The high proportion of emigrant women is due mainly to the type of jobs available, especially in the manufacturing sector but also in the services sector—for example, household work, child care or caregiving for the elderly,” explains Bélanger. Many of these women are, in fact, overqualified for the jobs they end up taking in their chosen countries and would be prime candidates for immigration to Canada. Emigration, which is voluntary, is very often a way for women to better their economic conditions and, for a smaller number, their family circumstances (through marriage, for example).

Asian migration trends, however, are becoming more and more complex. “Since the 1990s,” says Bélanger, “some emigrants no longer go directly from their home countries to North America. Instead, they go first to other Asian countries (such as Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan) or Persian Gulf countries (such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates). They can stay there for years before heading to Canada.”

Long considered a favourite destination for Asian emigrants, Canada must now compete with these and other new players to continue to attract immigrants and offset its own demographic deficit caused by a declining fertility rate and an ageing population.