Monday, July 26, 2010

Do immigrants perform more unpaid work?

Happy Canada Day!

Image by Ian Muttoo via Flickr

The National Statistics Council (NSC) of Canada has suggested to axe Question 33 from the Census long form in an effort to resolve the standoff between Statistics Canada and the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.

This is the same question that Statistics Canada was unwilling to include in the long form and was overruled by the Parliament in 1995. More details on this are available in my earlier blog.

The decision to keep or eliminate Question 33 from the Census should be based on proper debate and deliberation including all stakeholders. The NSC has made an ad hoc decision to eliminate the question about unpaid work from Census that has undermined the due process of managing Census in Canada.

The inclusion of unpaid work in Census allows us to analyze the welfare of the most disenfranchised in the society.  See the following tabulation that I performed on 2001 Census for Toronto CMA. It reveals that immigrants are far more likely to engage in unpaid work than non-immigrants. Furthermore, 44% immigrant women worked more than 15 hours per week in unpaid assignments. A much lower proportion (36%) of non-immigrant women worked unpaid for more than 15 hours per week. At the same time, a smaller proportion of men (immigrant or otherwise) worked unpaid for more than 15 hours per week.

These insights would not have been possible without Question 33 about unpaid work in the Census. Are there other sources for this type of data? May be there are. But are such data  readily available to those who advise policymakers? Definitely not.

Immigrants unpaid work female male Total
none 9.5 14.9 12.1
less than 5 hours 17.5 30.0 23.4
5 to 14 hours 29.2 34.6 31.8
15 to 29 hours 23.4 14.1 19.0
30 to 59 hours 14.1 5.0 9.8
60 hours or more 6.4 1.5 4.0
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0
15+ hours 43.9 20.6 32.8
Non-Immigrants unpaid work female male Total
none 8.5 14.5 11.4
less than 5 hours 22.7 35.0 28.7
5 to 14 hours 32.6 33.5 33.1
15 to 29 hours 21.1 12.6 16.9
30 to 59 hours 10.5 3.6 7.2
60 hours or more 4.5 0.9 2.8
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0
15+ hours 36.1 17.1 26.8
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