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Economic and Political Reasons for Immigration

Explore the less ventured aspects of the perceptions of the immigrants regarding their need for immigration, their lives before and after immigration and the positive and negative conditions, which they are subjected to in the foreign countries where they come to settle permanently.

The word “Immigration”, in the broad sense of the term, refers to the practice or phenomenon of people leaving their home countries and migrating to some other country for the purpose of living in the latter permanently or at least for a prolonged period of time. Immigration has been in existence for centuries in the global framework. However, with time global immigration has increased considerably (Fine & Ellis, 2013). This has been facilitated by the global socio-economic phenomena like Globalization and Liberalizations in the economic and social framework of the different countries across the world. The innovations in technologies, transports and infrastructural developments have also contributed significantly in increasing the phenomenon of immigration with time (Borjas, 2015).

Although there may be different reasons for different individuals to leave their home countries and to settle in some foreign country, there are some common contributing factors and trends which can be observed in the global immigration dynamics over the years. The most common and predominant reason for immigration in the global scenario is primarily economic (Abel & Sander, 2014). People tend to migrate to different countries, especially from the developing or less developed ones to the developed countries in search of better economic prospects and an overall higher quality of living, with better amenities and infrastructural facilities. Another significant share of immigration takes place globally, especially to the highly developed and progressive nations for the purpose of attaining higher education and acquiring knowledge, which again paves the way towards a bright career and a better standard of living for the immigrants (Aleinikoff & Klusmeyer, 2013).

As discussed above, most of the immigrants who migrate from their home countries, are from developing countries with less – developed economies, social tensions and political instabilities that in turn contribute collectively to a slower economic progress, thereby reducing the career growth prospects of the population and also contributing towards a comparatively inferior lifestyle for the residents of these countries. Immigrations are also hugely common from those countries which are known for their high political volatility and where frequent conflicts, riots and other social tensions not only deteriorate the lives of the residents but also pose fatal threats to the same (Hayworth & Eule, 2013). Due to the presence of constant life threats or due to the absence of economic, social and political stability and sufficient opportunities of enhancement of the overall quality of living, the residents of these developing or low developed countries often try to take refuge in more developed economies where accessibilities to employment and other social amenities are easier.

Impacts on Immigrants and Recipient Countries

Immigration not only has implications on the lives of the people from the developing countries but also has considerable impacts and implications on those developed countries to which people usually tend to migrate. Various governments over the centuries have used the concept of immigration as a conduit for national development. The inflow of people within a country most especially in the developed ones like Canada, United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), Australia and Germany has been strictly regulated to accept applicants with the desired skills and attitude to meet the labor demand and promote the economy (Favell, 2016). This, however, excludes that population which immigrate from different parts of the world, following economic and political unrests or war fare and are provided refuge by these developed countries to save their lives and to give them a better future.

Immigration, over the past few years, has become a key economic and political issue in most high – income countries in the world as the recent report put global immigrants at threepercent of the entire world population (Bodvarsson and Berg, 2013). In the last few decades immigration from different corners of the globe, especially to the above-mentioned developed and economically prospering countries has increased manifold. This is primarily due to the increasing social tensions in different politically unstable countries and also due to the increasing awareness among the populations of the developing countries regarding the better career, education and employment scopes in the developed countries (Ortega & Peri, 2012). With time the global economic and socio-political environment has become more integrated and inclusive, which in turn has facilitated the increase in the phenomenon of immigration in the last few decades.

Figure 1: Increase in Global Immigration over the years

(Source: Connor, Cohn & Gonzalez-Barrera, 2018)

As is evident from the above figure, over the last few decades immigration has increased considerably, the major share of whom has been absorbed in the developed countries. The number of immigrants in the global scenario has increased to around 244 million by 2015, increasing by nearly forty percent from what it was in 2000.

One of the most prominently visible patterns in international immigration is that nearly one third of the total number of international immigrations lives in only twenty countries of which the most prominent ones are the United States of America, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and also Canada. Canada has over the years, developed considerably in economic, social, political and other aspects and is now considered among the highly developed nations in the world (Kerr et al., 2016). This mixed economy ranks tenth in the world in terms of nominal GDP and has one of the most flourishing industrial as well as service sectors globally. The service sector of the country alone employs more than one third of the total population of the country and is also one of the primary reasons behind the huge immigration from all parts of the world in the country itself over the last few decades (Gilpin, 2016).

Immigration to Canada: Policies and Demographics

Immigrants to Canada are normally categorized into economic class, family class, and refugees. Canada is a popular destination for economic immigrants, largely due to immigration policy that prefers this type of immigrants, along with the economic prospects and the scope of a better quality of living, which mainly attracts people from all over the world, especially from the under-developed nations. A prospective immigrant could apply to immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker provided they meet a minimum threshold of qualification. Currently, there is an express entry system that allows potential applicants to complete an online entry profile, which assesses their skills, work experience, language proficiency, education and other details to determine their admissibility (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 2014).

About 280,000 to 305,000 immigrant families arrive annually in Canada all with the hope of landing economic opportunities to better their lives (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 2015). This number has varied over time, with more economic immigrants and fewer family class immigrants arriving in recent years (Canadian Pediatric Society, 2017). Likewise, a report by the Canadian Magazine of Immigration (October 27, 2016) indicates that, data from 2011 showed that immigrants comprised of 20.6% of Canadian population. In other words, one in five people were immigrants. The immigrant population in Canada consists of people from all parts of the world, especially from the less developed or politically disturbed countries, which primarily includes Nigeria. The report further indicates that from 2006 to 2015, about 33,140 new permanent residents from Nigeria landed in Canada (Canadian Magazine of Immigration, October 27, 2016).

Besides, data retrieved from the National Household Survey (NHS) (2011, cited in Canadian Magazine of Immigration, October 27th 2016) revealed that almost nine in ten Nigerians to Canada lived in three provinces: Ontario (62.3%), Alberta (20.2%) and Manitoba (5.2%). More than 50% of Nigerians resided in Toronto (14,145), 13% in Calgary (3,560) and 5% in Winnipeg (1,325). This indicates that Nigerians form part of the largest population of immigrants in Canada gaining entry under different migration categories and most of these Nigerian newcomers have advanced skills, resources, and experience and hope to gainfully employ their skills and abilities essential to achieve economic success in Canada.

 Given that the majority of recent immigrants are highly educated (Picot and Hou, 2003); Kaida (2015) notes a high poverty concentration among non-European groups. Studies (Picot et al. 2008; Kaida, 2015) found out that some immigrants are failing to realize their economic potential, and often land with very limited information about the realities of life in Canada which creates unrealistic expectations and disappointments. Similarly, a report by SIHMA 2014, indicates that, Nigerian migrants struggle to gain acceptance and integration pathways in societies and economies of host nations.

Recent Nigerian Immigrant Families' Settlement Experiences in Canada

To date, policy analyst, researchers and academics have made significant efforts to understand the macroeconomic benefits of migration to the receiving societies and to identify the factors that explain labor market success amongst immigrants. What research has largely ignored is the personal experience of economic success or failure. How does the experience of unemployment or underemployment influence the settlement experiences of immigrant families? Keeping this gap into account, the concerned research tries to analyze and interpret the socio-economic experiences as well as the notion of settlement of the immigrant population, depending upon the employment scenario. To study the same, the concerned research emphasizes on the immigrant families from Nigeria specifically. This research uses in-depth interviews to explore and analyze the socio-economic experiences and expectations of ten recent Nigerian immigrant families to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

The primary objective or aim of the concerned research is to explore the less ventured aspects of the perceptions of the immigrants regarding their need for immigration, their lives before and after immigration and the positive and negative conditions, which they are subjected to in the foreign countries where they come to settle permanently. The research primarily targets to study these aspects emphasizing on the Nigerian immigrants settling in Canada, specifically in Winnipeg, Manitoba, one of the populous places in the country.

The study will be guided by the following research question and related sub-questions.

  • How do recent immigrant families perceive their current socio-economic status in Canada?
  • Have their experiences in Canada met the expectations they had prior to their arrival in Canada?
  • Are their economic conditions in Canada better than they were prior to immigrating here?
  • How has their experiences influenced their outlook on their lives in Canada?

Canada has long been and continues to be, a land of immigration. Immigration to Canada has over the years, gone through series of developments. Earlier immigration was only restricted to some selected countries. According to Li (2003), migration to Canada can be divided into four stages. From 1867 to 1895 saw the open-door policy where a significant number of immigrants of European origin and or from the United States arrived to work on farms, factories and other non-agricultural sectors of the economy (Statistic Canada 1983). An improvement in agricultural production and expansion of economic activities from 1896 towards the beginning of the First World War encouraged a massive intake of farm laborers and female domestic workers from Northern Europe and the United States during the second stage (Manpower and Immigration, 1974). Central and Eastern Europeans were allowed during the third stage from 1900 to 1945. However, non-white immigrants were not welcome as cited in Li (2003):

The purpose of the policy department at present is to encourage the immigration of farmers, farm laborers, and female domestic servants from the United States, the British Isles, and certain northern Europeans countries, namely France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland. On the other hand, it is the policy of the department to do all in its power to keep out of the country those belonging to nationalities unlikely to assimilate and who consequently prevent the building up of a united nation of people of similar customs and ideals (Li, 2003: 18-19).

The immigration policy in this era considered racialized groups such as Africans, Asians, and other non-whites as unable to assimilate into the Canadian society.

Nevertheless, after  world war one, due to socio-cultural and geopolitical shifts which resulted in competition in international migration, Canada abrogated its racial immigration policy to the1967 points system whereby applicants were now accepted based on their level of education, language proficiency, age, offer of employment, adaptability, and experience that are presumed to meet the labor market (Mensah, 2005). This milestone led to many changes in the country of origins for immigrants with new immigrants now coming from countries in Africa, Asia, Caribbean and Latin America (Opoku – Dapaah, 2006).

In 2014, Canada received 260, 404 new permanent residents. Almost two-thirds (63.4%) of these newcomers came through the economic entry class (IRCC, 2014). About 79.2 per cent of newcomers to Manitoba also came through the provincial nominee program, considered as an economic entry category, a rate comparable to the Canadian average (Manitoba Labour and Immigration, 2014)

Table 1: Number of Immigrants by category-Canada and Manitoba (2014)








Family class





Economic immigrants










Other immigrants





Category not stated/Gender not stated





Total by Category





Note: Data for immigrants to Canada adapted from Citizenship and Immigration Canada- Facts and Figures (2014), for Manitoba from Manitoba Immigration Facts, (2014).

Much have been written and researched about the trends in immigration and the issues related to the same, both globally as well as in Canada in particular. Keeping the above discussion into consideration, the research tries to explore the literary and scholarly evidences, which are currently existing in this aspect and are extremely crucial for making the concerned research a robust, far-sighted and fruitful one. The following section of the research provides an extensive review of the relevant literatures and empirical evidences present in the aspect of the topic in concern.

Keeping into consideration the consistently increasing extent of immigration of people from different parts of the world, especially from the developing or economically disturbed countries to developed and self-sustained economies like that of Canada, the concerned thesis tries to view and discuss the implications of this whole immigration and settling down process in the new country, on the life of that of the immigrants. It specifically tries to highlight the problems and hurdles which the immigrants face in the socio-economic and political and cultural environment of the new countries and emphasizes on the perceptions of the immigrants regarding the level of satisfaction and grievances of the same, comparing the same with the levels existing prior to their immigration. To analyze and interpret the same, the report collects narratives from the selected immigrants from Nigeria, settling down in the Winnipeg, Manitoba region of Canada in the recent periods. The responses collected showed mixed outcomes, with both positive and negative perceptions of the respondents being recorded in every aspect, covered, including the socio-economic prospects, cultural diversities, political stabilities, standard of living and other amenities of importance. The overall pattern of responses was however, seen to be more positive than negative, which will be seen in the following chapters of the concerned thesis


Abel, G. J., & Sander, N. (2014). Quantifying global international migration flows. Science, 343(6178), 1520-1522.

Aleinikoff, T. A., & Klusmeyer, D. (Eds.). (2013). From migrants to citizens: Membership in a changing world. Brookings Institution Press.

Borjas, G. J. (2015). Immigration and globalization: a review essay. Journal of Economic Literature, 53(4), 961-74.

Connor, P., Cohn, D., & Gonzalez-Barrera, A. (2018). Changing Patterns of Global Migration and Remittances. Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project. Retrieved 14 February 2018, from

Favell, A. (2016). Philosophies of integration: Immigration and the idea of citizenship in France and Britain. Springer.

Fine, G. A., & Ellis, B. (2013). The Global Grapevine: Why Rumors of Terrorism, Immigration, and Trade Matter. Oxford University Press.

Gilpin, R. (2016). The political economy of international relations. Princeton University Press.

Hayworth, J. D., & Eule, J. (2013). Whatever it takes: Illegal immigration, border security, and the war on terror. Regnery Publishing.

Kerr, S. P., Kerr, W., Özden, Ç., & Parsons, C. (2016). Global talent flows. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 30(4), 83-106.

Ortega, F., & Peri, G. (2012). The role of income and immigration policies in attracting international migrants.

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