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Canada attracts educated immigrants, but U.S. still more desirable destination

Christian Fernsby |
Canada is successful at welcoming educated immigrants every year, but when it comes to the most educated immigrants around the world—those with PhDs—the United States remains a more attractive destination, finds a new Fraser Institute study.

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“Canada has done a good job of attracting educated immigrants, but there’s more work to do to lure the world’s best and brightest who continue to see the U.S. as a more attractive destination,” said Steven Globerman, Fraser Institute senior fellow and author of Highly Educated Immigrants: Economic Contributions and Implications for Public Policy.

The study finds that the percentage of immigrants to Canada with a first-stage tertiary degree (essentially all college and university degrees except PhDs.) is consistently higher than in the U.S. and other developed countries.

For example, from 2006 to 2016, approximately 50 per cent of immigrants to Canada had a college or university degree (excluding PhDs), compared to just over 40 per cent for the U.S., 35 per cent for Australia and 24 per cent for New Zealand.

However, the U.S. attracts a higher percentage of immigrants with PhDs (relative to all immigrants) than Canada.

Again from 2006 to 2016, according to data from the United Nations, approximately 1.5 per cent of immigrants to Canada had PhDs compared to just over two per cent for the U.S.

Crucially, immigrants with PhDs and other STEM training (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) have the most positive economic impact due to increased innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Tweaking immigration policy to give greater weight to advanced STEM degrees and PhDs would better reflect the economic importance of those most highly educated immigrants,” Globerman said.

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