Persistent Poverty among Racialized Canadians across Generations
A recent report released by Economic and Social Reports sheds light on the persistent poverty rates among racialized Canadians across generations. The report reveals that in 2020, most racialized groups in Canada had higher poverty rates than their White counterparts. While the poverty rates decreased from the first to the second and third generations for some groups, others continued to experience persistently high poverty rates.
The poverty rates were measured using the Market Basket Measure, which takes into account the cost of essential goods and services needed for a modest standard of living. The differences in poverty rates between racialized and White Canadians were most significant among first-generation immigrants. However, as subsequent generations emerged, the gap narrowed for some groups but remained high for others.
The report highlights that racialized groups such as Black, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, and Korean people consistently had higher poverty rates compared to White Canadians across generations. This disparity can be attributed to differences in sociodemographic characteristics among these groups. For instance, some racialized groups had a higher percentage of children, youth, and lone-parent households, which are factors that increase the risk of poverty.
The changing demographics of racialized Canadians also play a significant role in understanding the persistently high poverty rates. The number of racialized people in Canada has been steadily increasing since 2001, with immigrants accounting for two-thirds of the growth. The second generation, referring to Canadian-born children of immigrants, contributed to one-third of the growth, while the third generation or more made up a smaller portion.
Interestingly, multi-generational households are more prevalent among racialized Canadians compared to their White counterparts. Many second-generation Canadians from racialized groups live with their immigrant parents and often their grandparents as well. This household structure is closely linked to the economic outcomes of the immigrant parents and influences the poverty rates of second-generation Canadians from racialized groups.
The report also indicates that poverty rates among racialized Canadians vary across generations. While the poverty rates mostly decreased from the first to second generations, many racialized groups still had higher poverty rates than White Canadians. The difference in poverty rates between Latin American and White Canadians was larger among the second generation, while it remained relatively unchanged for South Asian, Black, and West Asian Canadians. However, some racialized groups, such as Chinese, Arab, Southeast Asian, Korean, and Japanese Canadians, saw a decrease in the poverty rate compared to White Canadians from the first to second generations.
In the third generation or more, some racialized groups continued to experience higher poverty rates than White Canadians. West Asian Canadians had a poverty rate nearly triple that of White Canadians, while Black and Latin American Canadians had poverty rates more than double that of White Canadians. Arab, Southeast Asian, and Korean Canadians also had higher poverty rates compared to their White counterparts.
The disparities in poverty rates between racialized and White Canadians can be attributed, in part, to differences in sociodemographic characteristics. Factors such as age distribution, education levels, employment income, family size, household composition, language proficiency, and region of residence contribute to these disparities. Racialized groups with a higher percentage of children, youth, and lone-parent households are at a higher risk of poverty. However, adjusting for these sociodemographic differences reduces the gap in poverty rates between White Canadians and groups such as West Asian, Latin American, and Black Canadians.
While some racialized groups have seen improvements in poverty rates over generations, there is still work to be done to address the persistently high rates among certain communities. The report’s findings emphasize the need for targeted policies and initiatives to address the root causes of poverty among racialized Canadians. By addressing the socioeconomic factors that contribute to these disparities, Canada can strive towards a more inclusive and equitable society for all its residents.
For more information on this report and other related articles, please refer to the August 2023 online issue of Economic and Social Reports.