Study to examine the economic disparity experienced by immigrants

Vincent Hildebrand (MA ’95, PhD ’01), professor of economics at York’s Glendon College, has recently been awarded a Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada grant to support his ongoing research into economic disparities among immigrant groups. In his research project, titled “A Cross-Country Analysis of the Nativity Gap”, Hildebrand will examine how the relative wealth position of immigrants varies over their settlement process, based on a number of variables, including their differences in income, education, family structure and geographic distribution.

Right: Prof. Vincent Hildebrand’s research will examine how the relative wealth position of immigrants varies over their settlement process

Hildebrand’s current project continues his research collaboration with eminent economist and world authority in this field, Deborah Cobb-Clark, a professor of economics in the Research School of Social Sciences at Australian National University. Together they published a paper, "The Wealth of Mexican Americans”, in the Fall 2006 issue of the Journal of Human Resources (University of Wisconsin Press). In this paper, they analyzed the sources of disparities in the relative wealth of Mexican Americans, as compared to other American groups, based on a number of factors such as larger families, younger, less-educated heads of families, and geographic concentrations.

The 2007 SSHRC grant provides Hildebrand with funds to continue his research for two years. “I want to extend my study to include more countries," says Hildebrand, “and to see how different systems of research arrive at different outcomes.” He also plans to document factors which have not been studied extensively to date, primarily owing to a lack of available data. Statistics Canada’s recent publication of more detailed relevant data makes it possible now to examine this topic within more accurate parameters.

“Although a great deal of economics literature is available about the change of wealth position of immigrants as they settle in their new country, not much work has been done on how the relative wealth position of foreign-born individuals varies over the settlement process itself," says Hildebrand. Based on his findings so far, wealth is an important measurement of immigrants’ successful integration and therefore a crucial subject for examination. “Learning more about the source of any nativity wealth gap allows us to draw more sharply defined policy conclusions and will be important in reformulating immigration policies," adds Hildebrand.

Hildebrand’s current SSHRC grant is not only a benefit to his own scholarly work, it will enable him to employ several undergraduate students at Glendon as his research assistants. “Doing research is a rare opportunity at the undergraduate level,” adds Hildebrand. “Not only does it allow these students to immerse themselves in an academic activity beyond the classroom experience. It also enables them to acquire research methodology, which will serve them well in their future scholarly activities.”

A professor of economics at Glendon, Hildebrand holds a BA from Paris IX-Dauphine and an MA and PhD from York University. He teaches in both English and French, specializing in labour economics, microeconometrics, public finance and immigration.

Submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny