Age among Employed Immigrants – Foundational Data #5

What is the age distribution of immigrants who are employed or self-employed in various regions of Ontario? This is the topic of today’s blog post.

The key finding regarding age and employment is that self-employed immigrants are significantly older than employed immigrants. Among immigrant employees in Ontario, 45% are between the ages of 45-64 compared to 54% of self-employed immigrants who are between the ages of 45-64 (Table 7).  An older self-employed population holds true in most regions.


Once again, there is great variation across regions. The greatest portion of older employed immigrants is found in Muskoka-Kawarthas, an area known for recreation and retirement. Northeast and Northwest Ontario also have high proportions of older workers, possibly reflecting the lack of population growth in those regions.

Table 7 Percent distribution of immigrant employees and self-employed immigrants by age group, Ontario, 2011    [click on title for full-sized version of Table 7] 

FD #5 Table-7

There are several possible reasons why older immigrants in the labour force are more likely to be self-employed as opposed to employees. Business owners often work in their field as employees before launching a business and are therefore older, and this would especially be true for immigrants who want Canadian work experience before starting a firm. Individuals who move, are downsized from their organizations, or simply cannot find employment may also try out self-employment, and these factors may affect older workers more than younger workers. Not surprisingly, the distribution of immigrants (and the distribution of self-employed immigrants) by age depends upon their period of arrival in Canada, as shown in Table 8:

  • 30% of self-employed immigrants who arrived before 1981 are 65+ years.
  • 36% of self-employed immigrants who arrived since 2006 are <34 years of age

Thus, for all immigrants, the percent in each age class is determined by the weight or number of individuals who arrived in a given time period.

Multi-ethnic Group Of Students

Table 8 Distribution of the experienced labour force (1) by age for non-immigrants and immigrants, Ontario, 2011. [click on title for full-sized version of Table 8] 

FD #5 Table-8B

Discussion Questions:

  1. What other factors contribute to the increase in self-employment among older immigrants in the labour force?
  2. If you were designing an immigration policy, would you include age as a factor for admission? Why or why not?

As always, please consider sharing your thoughts in the comments section below.

Sarah V Wayland
Sarah Wayland, Principal Investigator

Tables created by Ray Bollman

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