Congratulations to Alice Hoe, post-doctoral visitor at York University

Alice HoeCongratulations to Alice Hoe who completed her dissertation and has recently begun a new post as a Postdoctoral Visitor at York University. Alice’s dissertation was called Working in ‘Bad Jobs’: Immigrants in the New Canadian Economy. She conducted her research under the supervision of Professor Monica Boyd, with her full committee including Professors Cynthia Cranford and Melissa Milkie. The dissertation abstract follows.

Dissertation Abstract

Beginning in the late 1960s, the Canadian economy experienced two significant changes: the growth of immigrants from non-traditional source regions and major economic restructuring. The work transformation significantly undermined the quality of work, leading to a growing number of ‘bad jobs’, characterized by low wages, lack of fringe benefits, and declining union coverage. The literature on work transformation, however, relies primarily on macro-level theorizing, and pays less attention to how new forms of inequality emerge from these changes. Alternatively, studies on immigrants’ economic integration tend to rely on single-dimension, orthodox indicators of economic outcomes, such as earnings, and many do not incorporate the context of the new economy. Among the studies that do, the use of small samples and qualitative measures limit the ability to identify patterns of inequality. My dissertation fills this gap in the literature by bringing together these two intricately intertwined, yet disparate sets of literature. I analyze how immigrants in Canada are disproportionately affected by the presence of ‘bad jobs’ in the new economy. I study immigrants’ disadvantage on three levels, in three independent papers: 1) likelihood of engaging in ‘bad jobs’, 2) differential long-term outcomes of engaging in ‘bad jobs’, and 3) household-level inequalities based on job quality and nativity status of the household head. I analyze the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, using both cross-sectional and panel data, as well as household-data, which I constructed from cross-sectional individual files. I find that immigrants experience significant disadvantage in the new Canadian economy: they are more likely to work in ‘bad jobs’ and stay in ‘bad jobs’ than the Canadian-born. These individual-level inequalities also translate to household-level inequalities in terms of likelihood of living low-income. The results from this dissertation draw attention to stratification within the new economy and incorporates the context of the new economy into the study of immigrant integration.

For her post-doctoral visitorship, Alice is working for a research partnership called ‘Closing the Employment Standards Enforcement Gap” (website: http://closeesgap.ca/) under the direction of Professor Leah F. Vosko, Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Gender & Work, Political Science, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies. There, she is analyzing administrative and survey data and may also later be involved in constructing a cross-national research database on employment standards.

PhD candidate Alice Hoe featured in U of T News story on data-driven research

Alice HoePhD candidate Alice Hoe was recently featured in a U of T news item discussing the role of Big Data in research. Hoe has recently completed her dissertation on immigrant labour market outcomes and will shortly begin a postdoctoral fellowship at York University.  The U of T news piece coincided with a visit to the university from Navdeep Bains, the federal minister of innovation, science and economic development. The full article is available here. We have pasted an excerpt below.


Innovation minister visits StatsCan facility at U of T, emphasizes importance of data-driven research

Canada wants to go big on Big Data to boost innovation and inform policy-making – and researchers from post-secondary institutions like the University of Toronto will play a key role.

Navdeep Bains, the federal minister of innovation, science and economic development, delivered that message at a roundtable discussion Friday with U of T President Meric Gertler and researchers from U of T and McMaster University….

The discussion was held inside U of T’s Research Data Centre, a StatsCan-operated facility on the seventh floor of Robarts Library. The secure facility – users must receive special security clearance, no cellphones or cameras are permitted – makes detailed microdata available to U of T and other researchers on subjects ranging from Canadians’ health to their employment status. It’s part of the Canadian Research Data Centres Network (CRDCN), a network of 16 research data centre clusters located on university campuses across the country…

Alice Hoe, a candidate for a PhD in sociology at U of T, knows how access to the right data can shed light on important social and economic issues. She estimates she spent more than 1,000 hours in the U of T data centre studying labour and income data. Her research is focused on understanding how new immigrants to Canada fare in the job market – a subject she was drawn to after watching her university-educated parents struggle upon arriving in Canada from Taiwan.

“Basically what I’ve found is immigrants are more likely to be in bad jobs, and once they’re in these bad jobs, they’re more likely to stay in them than Canadians who are born here,” Hoe said in an interview earlier this week. “They are also more likely to fall out of employment.”

Economic underperformance among new Canadians is not a new phenomenon. But the situation appears to be getting worse, according to Hoe. She said the problem is tied to a shift in immigration patterns away from Europe toward Asia, Africa and Latin America, suggesting language issues, racial discrimination and challenges associated with the recognition of foreign education and professional credentials are all playing a role.

However, Hoe said it’s become increasingly difficult to get an accurate picture of how new Canadians are faring in the workplace because the survey she relied upon to do her research – the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics – was scrapped in 2011 and replaced with one that focuses on income.

“You wouldn’t know whether they have access to health and pension benefits, whether they’re unionized with collective bargaining,” said Hoe.

Read the full article.