The Role of Maternal Employment in the Economic Integration of New Immigrants: Implications for Ethnic Gaps in Poverty Exit

Lisa Kaida, University of Toronto

Despite growing interests in the role of employment in reducing poverty in the post-welfare reform era, research on the benefit of employment for poor immigrants –female immigrants in particular– is limited to date. This paper addresses this research gap by examining the effect of immigrant women’s employment on the exit from poverty as family during their initial settlement period. I use propensity score models and bivariate probit models to analyze data from the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada. Results suggest that immigrant women’s employment makes sizeable contributions to lifting their family out of poverty. This has implications especially for women of Arab, Western and Central Asian, and Middle Eastern origins as their notably low employment rates account for 20-40% of their low poverty exit rates explained by measurable characteristics. Overall, results are inconsistent with the conventional view that women’s earnings are merely “pin money” to their family income.

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Presented in Poster Session 3