Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Geography

Supervisor(s)

Dr. Godwin Arku and Dr. Isaac Luginaah

Abstract

This dissertation examined the relationship between immigrant housing consumption behaviours in Canada and transnational engagements (specifically remittances and transnational housing investments). Immigrant integration remains a paramount issue of interest to scholars and policy experts especially because of Canada’s adoption of immigration inflow as its principal population growth policy. Within the broader context of immigrant integration, adequate housing of immigrants is an important marker of integration; justified by the many benefits associated with it including improvement in children’s educational outcomes, enhancement of employment stability and enhancement of both physical and mental health, among others. However, a corollary of increasing number of immigrants is participation in various transnational fields — a globally ubiquitous phenomenon. Understanding transnational engagements — such as remittances and investment in transnational housing projects — may offer further insights to broader integration patterns and housing integration in particular. Yet, scholars tend to ignore this potential link between immigrant housing integration and transnational engagements in efforts at explaining immigrant housing integration. The desire of nations to achieve integration within national borders seems to have set the agenda for research leading to a situation where researchers focus narrowly on activities strictly within host societies (e.g. Canada) in their attempts to offer understanding and solutions for immigrant integration challenges. Consequently, the frameworks and methodologies employed for this agenda ignore transnational connections and associated activities.

To address this concern, this dissertation proposed that the theoretical framework for examining immigrant housing experiences in Canada should include transnational behaviour of immigrants. Four manuscripts addressing separate but related research objectives are used to indicate the relevance of incorporating transnational lenses in immigrant housing integration. The objectives of the dissertation were to: (1) examine the impacts of remittance behaviour on housing ownership over time; (2) examine the impacts of remittance behaviour on timing of housing ownership; (3) explore the impact of transnational housing investment on housing ownership status; and (4) investigate the motivations for transnational housing investment in areas of origin and its impacts on housing consumption choices in Canada.

The dissertation adopts a mixed-methods approach drawing on quantitative data from the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants in Canada (LSIC) and a survey among Ghanaian immigrants in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), as well as qualitative data from in-depth interviews (IDIs) and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) among Ghanaian immigrants in the GTA. Whilst the LSIC data made it possible for the investigation of relationships between immigrant homeownership and remittance engagement behaviours at a much broader national scale, the survey data allowed for the investigation of relationships between homeownership and a specific type of transnational engagement not captured in LSIC (i.e. transnational housing investments). Descriptive, bivariate and multivariate regression modelling techniques were employed in quantitative data analysis whilst thematic coding was employed in qualitative data analysis.

Results from quantitative data analysis show a relationship between homeownership status in Canada and immigrant transnational engagements (i.e. both remittance and transnational housing investment behaviours). For example, among the broader immigrant population, participation in remittance resulted in lower odds of homeownership at two discrete time periods. However, further investigation based on continuous time showed that immigrants who remit above the median remittance amount tend to attain homeownership faster. The survey among Ghanaian immigrants in the GTA showed that those who had on-going transnational housing projects (which involve regular remittance) had higher odds of homeownership in Canada. Results from in-depth interviews and FGDs show that engagement in transnational housing activities results in several constraints in choices in Canada including the decision to buy a house as well as rental dwelling types and neighbourhood choices.

Overall, the findings demonstrate a relationship between housing outcomes in Canada and engagement in transnational activities. The findings were in agreement with existing literature outside immigrant housing integration such as transnational entrepreneurship and political participation which show that it is possible to keep strong transnational ties and still achieve integration in destination areas. These findings make a strong case for the inclusion of transnational perspectives in attempts at understanding immigrant integration as a whole and housing integration in particular. Regardless of the connections found between housing outcomes in Canada and transnational behaviours, certain nuances emerged from the separate manuscripts. For example, although results from analysing homeownership at discrete time points show that participation in remittances resulted in lower odds of homeownership, results from analysing homeownership in continuous time demonstrated that immigrants who remitted above the median amount entered ownership at a faster rate. This suggests that participation in remittance per se might not be the reason for the finding. The nuances from these exploratory investigations calls for further studies using a transnational perspective to establish a more concrete picture of the relationship between housing integration and transnational engagements.

Available for download on Wednesday, December 19, 2018


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