The study, by Professor Miles Corak of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, shows that immigrant children arriving in Canada after the age of nine are more likely to drop out of high school than those arriving at a younger age.
“The chances of not graduating from high school are about 15% for boys and 11% for girls who arrive in Canada before the age of nine, which is lower than the overall Canadian dropout rate of 19% and 14% for comparable groups of boys and girls,” says Prof. Corak. “But the chances of immigrants not attaining a high school diploma increases progressively after that age, rising by more than one percentage point for each subsequent year. For those arriving in the country at age 15, the chances are about 22%, greater than one in five.”
At a time when concern is growing over the success of immigrants in an increasingly demanding job market, the study points to the need for policy-makers to recognize that migration affects children differently than it does adults.
These patterns of success at school stem in part from the challenges faced by immigrant children in learning English or French. In fact, for those arriving from English- or French-speaking countries, the age of arrival has no discernible impact on high-school graduation rates.
Changes associated with the onset of puberty and the challenges of adjusting to a new school system for children in their later primary years and in high school also play a role.
The age of nine is an important turning point in the development of children’s cognitive capacities as they make the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn,” adds Prof. Corak, illustrating the challenges of language acquisition and educational integration, particularly for older children.
The study, titled Age at Immigration and the Education Outcomes of Children is available under the New Products and Studies tab on the Statistics Canada website.