Atlantic Research Group on Economics of Immigration, Aging and Diversity

In-Migration and Out-Migration: Atlantic Canada at a Crossroads

In-Migration and Out-Migration: Atlantic Canada at a Crossroads 

June 14-2018 (1:00 – 2:30) at Saint Mary's University, Scotiabank Theatre


Session will be part of the Immigration Identity and Managing Diversity conference.

Although recent federal and regional initiatives have resulted in an increase in immigrant retention in Atlantic Canada since the turn of present century, its immigrant retention rate remains lower than the rest of Canada. Speakers in this plenary session will discuss the importance of immigration for the region, recent trends in immigrant arrivals, their retention and mobility motivations. Evidence based presentations, and resulting discussions, will be useful information for policy makers in designing immigrant attraction and retention policies. SCROLL DOWN FOR SESSION ABSTRACTS



  • Ather H. Akbari – Saint Mary’s University


  • David Chaundy (Atlantic Provinces Economic Council)

Presenters and Presentation Titles:

  • Ather H. Akbari – Saint Mary’s University | Who Comes, Who Stays, Who Leaves Nova Scotia
  • James Ted McDonald – University of New Brunswick (Fredericton) | Immigrant Retention in New Brunswick: An Analysis Using Provincial Administrative Data
  • Yoko Yoshida – Dalhousie University of Newfoundland | Examining the Retention Rates of Immigrants to Atlantic Canada
  • Respondent: Howard Ramos (Dalhousie University)

Note: This session is sponsored by Atlantic Research Group on Economics of Immigration, Aging and Diversity


Who Comes, Who Stays and Who Leaves Nova Scotia?

Ather H. Akbari

Saint Mary’s University

Most immigrants who come to Canada gravitate towards the larger provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec where there are established resident immigrant communities and more diversified labour markets that offer wider opportunities to new comers and all residents. Smaller provinces, such as Nova Scotia, face difficulties in retaining immigrants who arrive. Two major reasons for this are smaller established resident communities and narrower labour market opportunities. In order to address this issue, governments, immigrant settlement organizations, communities, and business groups in smaller provinces have adopted several initiatives to welcome immigrants and to disseminate information about the availability of economic opportunities and other social and natural attributes a province has to offer. These initiatives are showing results as immigrant retention has increased over the past ten years in smaller provinces, including Nova Scotia. However, retention continues to be lower than provinces outside Atlantic Canada. The province aims to increase its retention of immigrants in light of the decline in natural growth of its population and population aging.

This presentation investigates the features of immigrants who decide to come to Nova Scotia, stay in the province, or leave. It also includes discussion of some related theoretical perspectives. Data from 2016 census are analyzed for immigrant flows for Nova Scotia between 2011 and 2016 for five types of migrants: children, post-secondary students, non-working adults, working adults, and retirees.  Analysis is reported for Canada-born residents, immigrants who resided in Nova Scotia in 2011, and immigrant arrivals during 2011 and 2016. The presentation is based on the first of a three part study, conducted on behalf of Nova Scotia Office of Immigration.


Examining the retention rates of immigrants to Atlantic Canada

Yoko Yoshida

Dalhousie University

Retention is a key metric for evaluating the success or failure of immigration policies and the integration of immigrants in Canada. This paper unpacks the concepts of “retention” and how it is measured. In doing so, it examines the retention rates of immigrants to Atlantic Provinces by comparing two different approaches for measuring immigrant retention using data from the Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB). Specifically, we compare the “destination-to-residence” to the “residence-to-residence” approach of measuring retention in Atlantic Canadian provinces to that of Ontario, to determine 1) the magnitude of the difference between the two measures; 2) if the differences are consistent across time and landing cohort, and 3) how different measures alter conclusions about retention.

Yoko Yoshida is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Dalhousie University. She is also Vice-President of the Canadian Population Society. Her research is concentrated on issues of immigrant retention and integration. Her work uses administrative and Statistics Canada data to explore life course transitions, family, and non-economic immigration as well as immigration issues in Atlantic Canada and secondary migration centres.

Immigrant Retention in New Brunswick: An Analysis Using Provincial Administrative Data

James Ted McDonald

University of New Brunswick

This paper examines immigrant retention in New Brunswick (NB) Canada using a novel approach based on data contained in NB’s Medicare Registry, a database of individuals enrolled in the provincially-funded health insurance system that includes almost the entire provincial population. To date, researchers studying immigrant retention in Canada have had only a few options with regard to suitable data, and each data source is characterized by limitations intrinsic to the nature of the data collection. The main objective of the paper is to improve the current understanding of secondary migration patterns of international immigrants to NB residents with the objective of increasing their retention rates and thereby helping to mitigate the effects of NB’s aging and declining population. The secondary objective of the paper is to demonstrate the feasibility and value of using administrative health data to analyze population retention.


Are SMEs with Immigrant Owners Exceptional Exporters? Horatio Morgan

Are SMEs with Immigrant Owners Exceptional Exporters?

Guest Speaker Horatio Morgan of Ryerson University. November 22, 2017

Download Presentation (Horatio Morgan)


Immigrant owners possess valuable human and social capital from which small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) might derive advantages when internationalizing. According to this resource-based perspective, such advantages might be manifested in immigrant-owned SMEs’ enhanced ability to identify, evaluate, develop and exploit opportunities in international markets. However, a cognitive perspective offers an opposing view: insofar as immigrant owners are more prone to overconfidence than their non-immigrant counterparts when making internationalization decisions, immigrant-owned SMEs might reap less financial rewards from potentially high-risk international markets. We pit the two perspectives against each other theoretically and empirically by evaluating a) the relationship between business owners’ immigrant background and SMEs’ export intensity, and b) the extent to which such background moderates the relationship between SMEs’ export intensity and (risk-adjusted) financial performance. Based on a representative sample of 9,977 Canadian SMEs, we find that the presence of immigrant owners positively impacts export intensity, but negatively moderates the relationship between export intensity and financial performance. We interpret this evidence, combined with supplementary analyses, as support for a cognitive theory of international entrepreneurship in general, and particularly in relation to the role and consequences of entrepreneurs’ immigrant background.

Keywords: Cognitive perspective; Export intensity-performance relationship; Immigrant owners; Overconfidence; Resource-based perspective



Dr. Horatio Morgan is an Associate Professor of Global Management at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University. He holds a PhD in Economics from Simon Fraser University. Horatio’s expertise includes international entrepreneurship with a focus on immigrant entrepreneurs. He has extensive experience conducting research, advising, and speaking on their contributions to the development, innovation performance, global expansion and financial success of Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises. As a thought leader on the economic integration of immigrants, Horatio is well known for contributing towards evidence-based policy-making aimed at incorporating Canada’s immigrant entrepreneurs in a national ‘go-global’ agenda. His work has been published in internationally recognized academic journals, and major industry reports in collaboration with the Conference Board of Canada and others. Horatio has served as a trusted adviser and strategist to many corporations, non-profit organizations, government departments/agencies and think tanks.