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Immigration status and voting patterns in Canada

Submitted by on May 7, 2013 – 9:30 amNo Comment | 8,300 views

According to Statistics Canada: “Eligible immigrants have been shown to vote less than others in some studies (U.S. Census Bureau 2010; Milan 2005). Various reasons have been put forward to explain this, including the lack of democratic traditions in some regions of the world, the lack of trust in institutions or differences in political culture (Bevelander and Pendakur 2007 and 2009). Differences in voting patterns across sub-groups of immigrants are not often reported due to small sample sizes. With the LFS, however, differences between recent immigrants, more established immigrants, and the Canadian-born can be studied, as well as differences across immigrants’ regions of birth.

Compared with more established immigrants and the Canadian-born, recent immigrants (those who immigrated to Canada in 2001 or later) were less likely to vote (Table 1). The voting rates were 51% for recent immigrants, 66% for more established immigrants and 67% for the Canadian-born. Turnout rates also differed across regions of birth, as immigrants born in West Central Asia and the Middle East (53%) or East Asian countries (54%) had lower rates, while people born in Western/Northern Europe (77%) or ‘Anglosphere’ countries (United States, United Kingdom (U.K.), Ireland, Australia and New Zealand) had the highest rates (75%).

Although immigrant men and women had similar voting rates overall, some differences can be found across regions of birth. Men born in Western and Northern Europe (excluding the U.K. and Ireland), Southern Europe, Southern Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa had higher voting rates than women from these regions. The male–female difference was greatest for those born in Africa—11 percentage points. In contrast, women who were born in Anglosphere countries or in West Central Asian and Middle Eastern countries had slightly higher participation rates than their male counterparts.

To what extent do immigrants become engaged in the Canadian democratic system over time? Although this is a difficult question to answer in the absence of longitudinal data, some insight can be gained by examining differences in the turnout rates between recent and established immigrants from the same region of birth (Table 2). For all source regions, the rates were higher among established immigrants. But for some communities, the difference was much larger.8 For example, 70% of established immigrants from Africa voted in the 2011 election, compared to just 43% of recent immigrants from that same region. Similarly, the difference between the established and the recently arrived was also significantly higher among Eastern European (21 percentage points), West Central Asian and Middle Eastern (17 points) immigrants. In contrast, the rates among more established immigrants were only marginally higher than those for the recently arrived who were born in Central/South America or East Asia. The lower rates seen among established immigrants born in Eastern Asia, in particular, suggest that they vote less overall, regardless of age or time spent in Canada”. Full article

Source: Statistics Canada, Factors Associated with Voting by By Sharanjit Uppal and Sébastien LaRochelle-Côté

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