"One's Bad and the Other One's Worse": Differences in Economic Integration between Asylum Seekers and Refugees Selected Abroad

Article excerpt


The socio-economic settlement of refugees generates considerable interest in Canada and Quebec because, while the basis for this type of immigration is primarily humanitarian, the success of refugees' economic integration remains an objective in itself. One of the limits of previous studies is that they examine refugees as a monolithic group. In fact, there are basically two categories of refugees in Canada: those selected overseas and those who claim refugee status while in Canada. The former seemed to have received the most attention. The purpose of this study is to examine the difference in economic integration between these two groups using a longitudinal approach. Our hypothesis, that asylum seekers face more difficulty in the labour market than accepted (landed) refugees, is borne out. The explanation for this difference does not lie in human capital factors (qualification, prior work experience, and language), in demographic variables such as sex and age, in differences in national origin, nor in taking courses, since these factors have been included in the analysis. This article examines two sets of explanatory hypotheses: one based on the "migration crisis" effect and the other on the stigmatisation effect.

L'insertion socio-economique des refugies suscite beaucoup d'interet au Canada et au Quebec car, meme si des considerations humanitaires sont a la base de ce type d'immigration, le succes de leur insertion economique demeure un objectif en soi. Une des limites des recherches anterieures est de considerer les refugies comme un groupe monolithique. En fait, il existe deux categories de refugies au Canada : les refugies selectionnes a l'etranger et ceux qui reclament le statut de refugie sur place. C'est le premier groupe qui a surtout retenu l'attention. L'objectif du present texte est d'examiner l'insertion economique differentielle de ces deux groupes a l'aide de donnees longitudinales. Notre hypothese, a savoir que les revendicateurs de statut auront plus de difficulte sur le marche du travail que les refugies selectionnes, se trouve confirmee par nos analyses. Ni les facteurs de capital humain (qualification, experience de travail anterieur, langue), ni les variables demographiques comme le sexe et l'age, ni les origines nationales et ni le fait de suivre des cours ne peuvent expliquer les differences puisque tous ces facteurs sont pris en compte dans l'analyse.

Cet article explore deux series d'hypotheses explicatives, l'une basee sur la notion de << crise migratoire >> et l'autre sur l'effet de stigmatisation.


The extremely stressful situation that characterizes refugees forces them to flee their country in search of protection and asylum in the host country. Thus, their emigration is rarely "planned." Not only must they cope with the shock of leaving their homeland, but they must also face the new realities that await them in the receiving society. The socio-economic settlement of refugees generates considerable interest in Canada and Quebec because, while the reason for migration is primarily humanitarian, the success of their economic integration remains an objective in itself.

Between 1995 and 1999, Quebec received more than 36,000 refugees, comprising 26 percent of the total number of immigrants to the province. More than half, nearly 19,000, were accepted as asylum seekers, while the rest were essentially refugees selected overseas (most often from refugee camps) to enter Canada with landed immigrant status and the right of permanent residence. In terms of asylum claimants, they must undergo a rather lengthy acceptance process (the median wait being 22 months for those who go through all of the application steps in three years or less). This process comprised two steps--the first involves obtaining refugee status and the second involves obtaining permanent residence. These claimants, like other refugees, must meet the Geneva Convention definition, but at the same time they do not know what ruling will be made by the Canadian Immigration Commission. …