Chinese Canadians Make More Than The General Population

Chinese Canadians Make More Than The General Population

Now for a number you won’t hear from StatsCan anytime soon, a breakdown of Chinese-Canadian incomes. The popular Chinese-Canadian forum conducted a survey on income, and had a massive response. The sampling was so large, we thought we’d compare it to general incomes across Canada. Turns out if you’re Chinese-Canadian, chances are stacked in your favor that you are one of the higher income earners in Canada.

Source:, Statistics Canada.

Chinese-Canadians Are Overrepresented In Higher Income Brackets

When it comes to higher income brackets, Chinese-Canadians are overrepresented compared to the general population. For those that don’t know, overrepresented means proportionally higher than average. In the $80k – $100k per year income bracket, the survey found that 16.5% of Chinese-Canadians fell into this category. The general population (which also includes Chinese-Canadians), saw 10.8% of all incomes fall into this category. In the $100k – $150k per year bracket, the gap was even wider. 23.2% of Chinese-Canadians fit into this category, while just 16.1% of all Canadians fit into the category. In the $150k+ per year bracket, the gap contracts just a little. 15.1% of Chinese-Canadians fit into this category, while 13% of all Canadians were in this range.

The gap adds up to a lot when looked at as a whole. Around 54.8% of working Chinese-Canadians earn over $80k in gross income per year. To contrast, only 39.9% of all Canadians do. If you’re an analyst, you also probably noticed something about those numbers – the “All Canadians” numbers include Chinese-Canadians. This means the numbers skew slightly, and the odds of earning more than $80k for non-Chinese-Canadians is slightly lower when looked at in total.

Chinese-Canadians Are Underrepresented In Lower Income Brackets

When it comes to lower income brackets, Chinese-Canadians are underrepresented compared to the general population. The number of Chinese-Canadians that earn less than $20k per year is just 4.5%. To contrast, 13.1% of all Canadians fit in this category. In the $20k – $40k income bracket, the gap was widest. Only 5.7% of Chinese-Canadians fit in this bracket, while 18.3% of all Canadians do. The gap tapers a little in the $40k – $60k per year bracket. 9% of Chinese-Canadians fit in this category, while 16% of all Canadians fit in this range. The $60k – $80k income bracket is the closest. 11.9% of Chinese-Canadians fit here, compared to 12.7% of the general population.

Once again, all of these numbers add up to a pretty big gap. Only 31.1% of Chinese-Canadians earned under $80k per year. To contrast, 39.9% of all Canadians fit in the same income brackets. Once again, the numbers do have a slight skew since “All Canadians” includes Chinese-Canadians.

Data Explained

Before you dismiss this as “just a survey,” let’s run through the issues on both sets of data – both Rolia’s survey and Statistics Canada. The Rolia survey has 2,363 respondents when we took a snapshot. That seems relatively small, until you realize that Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (LFS), the primary way we determine unemployment numbers and wages, is 50,000 people. Considering Chinese-Canadians are roughly 4% of the population, a sample size that’s 4.7% of the LFS is a pretty large sample.

Just because Rolia doesn’t have a 3,000 person workforce like Statistics Canada, doesn’t mean the results are less accurate. Actually, both sets of data have issues and leave us with questions. Such as, 5.4% of respondents on the Rolia survey said they made “other.” Not no income or negative income, other. I’ve never heard of a salary negotiation where someone asked “what income are you expecting?” and someone reply “other.” Have you?

Likewise, the Statistics Canada survey marks no income as “not reliable” – and doesn’t give a number. Yay! All Canadians have income! Not exactly. It just means not enough people told a stranger on the phone that they didn’t make any money this year. The only advantage to the Statistics Canada number is they spent hours structuring a geographic sampling of regions. So the geography is known, so that’s a plus.

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Photo: Vladimir Megan.



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  • Simon C. 7 years ago

    Part of this has to do with the fact that as first generation immigrants, we don’t pursue “dream jobs.” We want boring, but well paying jobs from when we’re young.

    • Bay Street Guy 7 years ago

      So true. Remember in university, my whole business program was Chinese and Indian students. One or two white Canadians. Electives like psychology, tons of optimistic white kids. It’s unfortunate, but Canada doesn’t foster optimism – it’s a place for number crunchers.

  • Michael 7 years ago

    Have a millionaire program that targets wealthy Chinese migrants, get wealthy migrants. The question is, why the heck didn’t the government hasn’t tried to bring well paying jobs into this country? Not the garbage tech jobs where we subsidize big US firms to pay us half of what they do to Americans…before the exchange rate.

  • Sundhar 7 years ago

    Great post. Why doesn’t the government breakdown income by race? Is it to hide that certain races don’t make as much as others? You can’t solve a problem if you don’t measure it, but I guess we’re terrible at measuring things as a whole.

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