Canadian minorities earn 18 percent less than Canadian whites: Indian origin economist

Saturday, February 26, 2011

TORONTO - A Canadian-born visible minority man earns about 18 per cent less than a Canadian-born white man with similar education and experience, according to Simon Fraser University Indian origin economist Krishna Pendakur.

For women, the wage gap is three percent, he adds.

“I don’t know whether they feel hard done by, but they should,” the Globe and Mail quotes Professor Pendakur, as saying.

He adds: “The fact is, we face a labour market in which the prizes of good jobs that pay a lot of money are not equally accessible by white and visible minorities and we’ve got a ways to go.”

His research suggests the wage gap has actually increased from 1970 to the present, which is at odds with the Canadian self-image of a society growing more comfortable with diversity.

Patrick Grady of Global Economics Ltd., author of a recent paper on the subject, described the performance of the children of recent immigrants as “the big question” for Canada’s future.

“There seems to be a large visible minority discount being built in [to the market]. I think that’s going to cause future social tension,” Grady said.

There are also differences across regions, according to a study by Pendakur and his brother, sociologist Ravi Pendakur.

Results in Montreal, where the gap for men is about 30 per cent, are much worse than in Toronto, where it’s under 15 per cent, and Vancouver, where it’s less than 10 per cent.

In the public sector, where employment equity law applies, a StatsCan study found the wage gap for men was only 3 per cent - about four times smaller than its findings for the private sector.

Prof. Pendakur said that, as an economist, he’s loath to suggest government intervention in the labour market, but extending employment equity laws to the private sector might be necessary.

He cites a recent study by economist Philip Oreopoulos that found that job applicants with English-sounding names were 40-per-cent more likely to get an interview than those with identical r�sum�s and an Indian or Chinese name.

“The magnitude of the differential seems to be increasing, not decreasing. That suggests we need to take a step up and take a more active public role in the private sector,” he said. (ANI)

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