The Skill Selectivity
of Immigration Policy
This chapter examines cross-national differences in immigration policy to assess the significance of policy in explaining differences in the entry status of immigrant groups. The specific questions explored are these: (1) What exactly are the policy differences related specifically to skill selectivity? When the specific provisions of policy are examined, we find that Canadian and Australian policies give more attention to the occupational backgrounds of immigrants (whether their specific work experiences are in occupations such as chef or welding, which might be in demand), but not necessarily more attention to skill levels per se (such as years of education or university degrees). (2) What are the actual effects of these policy differences on the skill levels of immigrants in specific origin groups? Data on actual policy effects suggest that the effects are real but very limited. The attempt to place a numerical estimate on this effect must remain tentative, but policy differences cannot be expected to explain more than a small part of the cross-national difference in immigrant group entry levels.
We also ask, (3) how may immigration policy affect where less-skilled immigrants settle within a country, and hence entry levels in particular urban areas? The specific urban concentration of less-skilled immigrants in the United States could be a policy effect related to chain migration and family reunification. We find that in Canada and Australia, where immigration policy has created relatively smaller family reunification categories, there is much less tendency for less-skilled immigrants to be heavily concentrated in particular urban areas.
in Immigration Policy, 1965-1990
When the United States, Canada, and Australia reformed their immigration policies in the 1960s and early 1970s, they established new selection