Immigrant families are thriving financially, but there’s a catch
StatCan has come out with a new report that finds “established” immigrant families are doing slightly better than Canadian-born households are, beating out generational Canadian households by nearly 10%.
The agency’s new report, “The Wealth of Immigrant Families in Canada,” found that Canada’s immigrants are big investors in the real estate market, meaning that newcomers to the country are carrying more debt than the typical Canadian-born person is.
The silver lining to the heavy debt typically carried by immigrant families is that they also have more accumulated wealth than Canadian-born families, according to the same data released on Tuesday by StatCan.
By StatCan’s definitions, “established immigrant families’ are one where the major earner is 45 to 64 years old and has been in Canada for at least 20 years. This would eliminate refugees as we know of them today, and would instead be immigrants from more stable economic backgrounds.
Those established immigrant households average a net worth of $1.06 million. Comparatively, households with Canadian-born major earner aged 45 to 64 had an average net worth of $979,000. A different of just less than $100,000.
Canadian-born households saw an increase in wealth from 1999 to 2016, a growth of 88.6 per cent. The established immigrant households saw an increase of wealth by just 69.6 per cent within that same time frame.
For the established immigrant families, nearly 70 per cent of all wealth growth between those years came from real estate. On the flip side, only 39 per cent of Canadian-born families wealth came from real estate.
According to StatCan, “Most of the wealth growth came from an increase in house prices and growth in the value of retirement pension plans.” This data clearly shows that immigrant families are much more dependant on real estate than the typical Canadian-born family.
Putting all of your chips on red can be a risky maneuver, as focusing mainly on real estate puts immigrant families in a position of vulnerability and susceptibility to debt crisis.
“Non-immigrant families with a major earner aged 45 to 64 had, on average, debt equal to 137 per cent of household income in 2016. For immigrant families, the ratio is a much higher 217 percent,” the study says.
StatCan does note that although the immigrant families do carry higher debt, they still do not show signs that they’re unable to manage their debts to any greater degree than others.
“The study finds no evidence that immigrant families use payday loans, withdraw money from registered retirement savings plans or pay off only part of their monthly credit card balances to a greater extent than Canadian-born families of similar age do,” the report stated.