At creating new businesses, immigrants outpace Canadian-born people, StatsCan finds

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The Korean who owns the pharmacy, the Portuguese building contractor, the Indian who started an accountancy practice — no matter what their place of birth, they're creating jobs, for themselves and for others, Statistics Canada has found in a new study.

By the time they'd been in Canada nine years, about 5.3 per cent of immigrants owned a private company, meaning they formed new businesses more quickly than the Canadian-born population, where the rate is 4.8 per cent.

Another 19.6 per cent of immigrants were unincorporated self-employed persons, compared with 16.1 per cent for the Canadian-born group.

Longer-term immigrants, who had been in Canada from 10 to 30 years, also appeared to be more entrepreneurial than the Canadian-born, Statistics Canada said.

It found 5.8 per cent of longer-term immigrant tax-filers were owners of private incorporated companies.

The study was based on tax data from the year 2010, looking at immigrants who had arrived in 2004 and in the 10 to 30 year period leading up to 2010.

Smaller companies, fewer employees

The federal agency found private incorporated firms owned by immigrants tended to be smaller than those owned by their Canadian-born counterparts.

In 2010, private incorporated firms owned by longer-term immigrants employed, on average, about four employees, compared to about seven employees in private businesses owned by a Canadian-born group.

While immigrants are often perceived to be more entrepreneurial than the Canadian-born population, there have not been good studies to illustrate the business creation and job-creation role they play, according to authors of the study, David Green, Huju Liu, Yuri Ostrovsky and Garnett Picot.

"The extent to which immigrants contribute to economic growth is one of the central questions in immigration research," they wrote in an analysis of the data.

In the first two years after they arrive in Canada, immigrant's business creation level is quite low, the study shows.

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