Thursday, September 10, 2009

On the concentration of Québec immigrants in Montréal

Over at the French-language Cyberpresse website, associated with the Montréal newspaper La Presse, Claude Picher remarks on the very significant gap between Montréal and the rest of Québec in the proportion of immigrants in local populations.

Ensemble, les petits qui parlent arabe, espagnol, italien, créole, chinois, tamoul, vietnamien, bengali et des dizaines d'autres langues forment maintenant 39,5% de la clientèle scolaire montréalaise, contre 39% pour les francophones et 21,5% pour les anglophones.

Au-delà du caractère spectaculaire de cette nouvelle, il fallait bien s'attendre à ce que cela arrive inévitablement un jour ou l'autre.

Dans le dossier de l'immigration, le Québec est catégoriquement divisé en deux entités aussi différentes que l'eau et le feu: Montréal d'une part, le reste de la province de l'autre. Cela est connu depuis longtemps, mais un coup d'oeil sur les chiffres compilés par l'Institut de statistique du Québec permettra de mieux mesurer l'abîme qui sépare Montréal des régions.

En 2007, dernière année pour laquelle on dispose de statistiques régionales complètes, l'île de Montréal a accueilli à elle seule 32 600 immigrants. Si on ajoute Laval, la Rive-Sud et la couronne nord, on arrive au total de 38 000. Pendant ce temps, le reste du Québec n'en recevait que 7100. Autrement dit, la région de Montréal attire cinq immigrants sur six, et la vaste majorité d'entre eux choisit de s'installer dans la ville centre. Ces chiffres ne concernent que l'immigration internationale, et ne tiennent donc pas compte des migrations interprovinciales.

Or, l'année 2007 n'a rien d'exceptionnel. De très loin, Montréal a toujours été le premier choix des immigrants qui s'installent au Québec. Entre 1987 et 2007, le Québec a accueilli 754 000 immigrants. De ce nombre, 625 000 ont élu domicile dans la région de Montréal, dont 527 000 dans l'île même. En moyenne depuis 20 ans, 83% des nouveaux arrivants s'installent à Montréal.

[. . .]

Depuis 20 ans, nous venons de le voir, Montréal reçoit en moyenne 31 300 immigrants par année. La ville de Québec arrive très loin derrière avec 2000. Quand on sort de ces deux villes, les chiffres tombent à des niveaux hadaux. En tout et partout, depuis 1987, le Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean reçoit en moyenne 290 immigrants par année; la Mauricie, 230; le Bas-Saint-Laurent, 71; l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 45; la Côte-Nord, 28; enfin, sur les quelque 40 000 immigrants qui s'installent au Québec chaque année, seulement 20 optent pour la Gaspésie.

Here it is in English.

Together, children who speak Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Creole, Chinese, Tamil, Vietnamese, Bengali, and dozens of other languages now form 39.5% of the student population in Montréal, while Francophones form 39% and Anglophones 21.5%.

Beyond the spectacular nature of this news, it was inevitable that this would happen one day.

In the case of immigration, Quebec is categorically divided into two entities as different as water and fire: Montréal first, the rest of the province another. This has long been known, but a glance at the figures compiled by the Statistical Institute of Quebec will better measure the gulf that separates Montréal from the regions.

In 2007, the latest year for which complete regional statistics are available, the island of Montréal alone welcomed 32 600 immigrants. If you add Laval, South Shore and the northern suburbs, you get a total of 38 000. Meanwhile, the rest of Quebec received only 7100. In other words, the Montréal area attracts five immigrants in six, and the vast majority of them chose to settle in the city center. These figures relate only to international immigration, and therefore do not take account of interprovincial migration.

However, the year 2007 is not exceptional. Montréal has always been by far the first choice of immigrants to Quebec. Between 1987 and 2007, Quebec received 754 000 immigrants. Of these, 625 000 have taken up residence in the Montréal area, including 527 000 in the island itself. On average for the past 20 years, 83% of newcomers settled in Montreal.

[. . .]

For 20 years we have seen Montréal receive on average 31 300 immigrants per year. Québec City comes very far behind with 2000. When we leave these two cities, the figures fall to exceptionally low levels. Since 1987, the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region has received an average of 290 immigrants per year, Mauricie, 230; Bas-Saint-Laurent, 71; Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 45; the North Shore, 28, finally, of some 40 000 immigrants who settle in Quebec each year, only 20 opted for Gaspé Peninsula.

As Germain and Radice point out in their essay in Jon Binnie's collection Cosmopolitan Urbanism, the concentration of Québec's immigrant population in Montréal fits the city's long tradition of cosmopolitanism, with the province's language laws mandating a Francophone environment ironically helping this process along by creating an ethnically diverse Francophone community. These processes hardly operate elsewhere in the province, creating a gap.

At the same time, regions outside of Montréal often experience population decline owing to low cohort fertility and sustained out-migration. As an example, the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region in north-central Québec, ethnically very homogeneous and only
opened to settlement in the late 19th century, has seen sustained net out-migration for at least the past two decades.

The contrast between a growing and ethnically diverse greater Montréal and a rest-of-Québec that's relatively much more ethnically homogeneous and at best stagnant is the sort of thing that will complicate Québec's future if it isn't watched out for. Even though the province sustained one of the higher rates of immigrants in the general population in the world--some 10%--a nativist reaction on the part of the hinterland isn't unimaginable. This sort of phenomenon need not be limited to Québec, but extended additionally to other countries and regions with similar core/periphery contrasts. Suggestions as to other candidate societies, anyone?


Anonymous said...

"Suggestions as to other candidate societies, anyone?"

All western countries for a start but you are well wrong to imply that 'nativist reaction' could have any significant successes for two reasons.

1) The nativists are are too old, a society has to have a high proportion of young people for a radical political movement to succeed. Also the hinterlands are economically irrelevant and have no cultural traction.
Why the West is Boyle'd (Spengler).

Gunnar Heinsohn interview.
"believe it or not: Of 100 adult Canadian immigrants, 98 have better professional qualifications than the Canadian average".

2) There is an expectation of such movements arising on the part of the political mainstream and they are 'watched out for'. An existing framwork of discrimination law can be used against them when they become politically significant. For example Vlaams Bloks best result was when it received thirty-three percent of the votes in and around Antwerp. Shortly thereafter it faced legal action that seriously disrupted it's momentum. The British National Party - Euro elections: Dismay as BNP leader Nick Griffin wins seat (8/06/2009).
Guess what happened next?
The EHRC has today written to BNP over possible breaches of anti-discrimination law. (23 June 2009)

BNP leader Nick Griffin says the party must redraft its rules on the ethnicity of members to avoid an expensive court case he claims could destroy it. (Thursday, 3 September 2009)

Canada's anti nativist legislation is the strongest in the world.

Electoral systems and boundaries would also be altered to limit nativism if it became necessary.
BNP's Euro success should not shut door on voting reform

The 'hinterland' is as helpless as the Inuit were, and it's not just in Canada that's true.

Gabriel said...

Belgium is an obvious candidate; opposition to immigration is about the only thing the Flems and Walloons agree on. High concentration of immigration in Brussels vs. hinterland as well.

Note: 'Spengler' and Heinsohn can be credited for thinking outside the box, but neither is credible on immigration (or demographics).
If economic conditions get bad enough, political pressure will halt immigration quite rapidly.

Death-of-the-West types should keep in mind that draconian immigration restriction would be an extremely unpleasant process for the emmigration countries, and possibly immigration countries as well-look at Italy, Germany or anywhere in Eastern Europe during the 20s and 30s for a idea.

Anonymous said...

"political pressure will halt immigration quite rapidly"
You will have a long wait for that, rely on it.

As far as I can see demographic trends are in line with Heinsohn's predictions, which focus more on birthrate than immigration.

Randy has said
"There may be anywhere between 1.5 and 1.8 million Muslims living in Britain", which was true when he wrote it (2004-04-13)

"The Muslim population in the United Kingdom may now number as many as 2 million, the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, disclosed yesterday during an official visit to Pakistan…/… The 400,000 increase in the size of the Muslim community in less than seven years... one-third under the age of 16 at the time of the 2001 census".

"Among all babies born in the UK, 23 per cent had mothers who were born abroad. Whereas British-born women have only 1.7 children each on average, the figure is 3.9 for Bangladeshi-born women in Britain, and almost five for Pakistani-born women". The study Ageing and Mortality in the UK

Labour force Survey The Muslim population in Britain has grown by more than 500,000 to 2.4 million in just four years, according to official research collated for The Times.

Britain and its Muslims, The Economist Feb 26th 2009. The proportion of 0-4 year olds is noteworthy.

Spengler is talking about the economic and cultural irrelevance of the (ageing) population of northern Britain's hinterland. They have no political traction so nativist reaction would have little effect.

snakeoilbaron said...

What about the possibility that, as third generation immigrants and later descendants achieve higher incomes, native language skills (French or, in a few areas, English), comfort with the host culture and general mobility, they will spill out into the rural areas looking for quiet, low crime locations?

Richard said...

The situation is more nuanced. Montreal has been losing French-Canadians to the 'Couronne' i.e. the area around Montreal for many years as young families move off-island for cheaper housing and taxes.

Typically immigrants come to Montreal where there is already an established community and more economic opportunity. The La Presse article mentions inter-provincial migration. Many immigrants to Montreal later move on to Ontario, Alberta and B.C.

In Quebec the greater problem is actually a low birth rate for French-Canadians coupled with a growing economic disparity between rural/smaller communities (often reliant on depleting resource industries) and Montreal, Quebec City, and the Ottawa/Hull area (Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivieres have relatively strong economies too).

Anonymous said...

Much of Europe is a good bet as a periphery area according to Heinsohn:-

"The same will happen to the approximately 40 nations between Brittany and Vladivostok. Some of them will become Fifth Villages and will have a new lease on life, others will just implode. I predict that all the Slavic nations will implode. Same thing with the three Baltic states and all of the Balkan states. The question is whether Germany and France will become Fifth Villages. I see Scandinavia as a Fifth Village. The same thing with the Iberian Peninsula and with Ireland and England. But I am not sure the rest of the continent will make it."

I'm not suggesting that in our lifetime the immigrant community will become a majority in any Western country but they certainly will become a majority of the economically active in core areas which are are the politically decisive ones.

Most children in Greater London are not ethno-British yet the nativist reaction is so weak that they still have not got a single MP in the whole of Britain, core or periphery.

In Québec the nativists aren't going to do any better than nativists elsewhere. They're all as helpless as the Native Americans were, its silly to suggest otherwise.

Randy said...

"Fifth villages"?


There has been a recent significant uptick in Quebec fertility as measured by TFR--it's starting to look like, as in other relatively high-fertility societies, completed fertility was biased towards older mothers. But yes, Quebec's at a decided disadvantage relative to other English Canadian regions which have higher rates of immigration and natural growth besides.

Anonymous said...

"Fifth villages"?

If you don't see the relevance or maybe you haven't bothered reading Heinsohn here it is

"I am very pessimistic about the future. Europe's situation reminds me of the principle that is called 'The Fifth Village' in Brandenburg and Mecklenburg, who have experienced population decline. So four villages are being abandoned and the remaining population is moved to the fifth village. However, that does not increase the birth rate in the fifth village. And after some time the fifth village will also be populated by old people, and there are no young people in the vicinity to work for their pensions."

Anonymous said...

"Il n'existe pas de statistiques permettant de chiffrer les migrations interprovinciales en fonction de la langue maternelle, mais on peut certainement penser que tous les groupes linguistiques, francos, anglos et allophones confondus, sont représentés chez ceux qui choisissent de quitter Montréal et le Québec pour une autre province."

Cela n'est pas vrai. Mes amis immigrants en grand nombre quittent Montréal. Les immigrants sont les premiers qui choisissent d'autres régions à cause de prix de logements et parce qu'il ne sont pas riches pour payer les impôts scolaires, etc. Les immigrants aussi sont premiers qui partent à Toronto pour des salaires plus hautes parce qu'il ne se tiennent tellement au Québec comme les francophones. Ne vous inquiétez pas.

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