Academic performance of youths of immigrant background in Canada: a study from Quebec

Jake Murdoch, Université de Montréal
Jacques Ledent, Université du Québec à Montréal

The paper analyses the academic performance of youths from immigrant background in the French-speaking Quebec province of Canada. We use an administrative database from the Quebec ministry of education. Academic performance is measured as the cumulative graduation rate two years after the normal year of graduation. The paper looks at whether immigrant youths succeed better, equally or worse than the native Quebecers, once differences in characteristics (socio-demographic and schooling-related) have been accounted for. Moreover, we try to identify the factors that influence the performance within the immigrant group. We see to what extent these factors are specific to the immigrant group compared to the native Quebecers. Our results show that, once the control variables are introduced, the immigrant group clearly succeeds better; however, some immigrant group sub-groups clearly outperform the native Quebecer youths (e.g. youths from East Asian backgrounds), while others are at the bottom of the scale (e.g. youths form Latin American backgrounds). Amongst the youths of immigrant background, female students and students who attend private schools have higher rates of graduation. Moreover, an immigrant student who arrives late in the school system or repeats years, who often changes school is less likely to graduate. An interesting result however is that youths whose mother tongue is not French and/or do not speak French at home are more likely to graduate, once other characteristics have been taken into account. We find also that socio-economic background plays a greater role for native Quebecers than for the immigrant group. In addition, a negative schooling profile is more likely to be associated with social or learning problems for the native Quebecer group. In the case of the immigrant group, such a profile can be explained in part by pre-migratory factors or by the time needed to adjust to the new society.

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Presented in Session 90: Human capital, migration and educational performance