Understanding the Role of Social Capital in Assessing Settlement Outcomes by Blair Jackson
CES 2013 Conference June 11, 2013
About Goss Gilroy Inc. (GGI)Established in 1981. Offices in Ottawa and St. John’s.25 multi-disciplinary consultants. All CES members (6with CE designation)Our main areas of practice are:Program EvaluationPerformance MeasurementOrganizational DevelopmentResource ManagementMy background:11 years in evaluation and community-based studies. MA (interdisciplinary / Community Development)
Purpose Result of a graduate studies project. Built onexperience in evaluating several programs related tosettlement and integration Examined a social issue while indentifyingalternative uses for evaluation (e.g. best availableevidence) Policy- present the role of social capital, includingchallenges and benefits of considering social capital insettlement (and integration) Practice- Build a case for utilization of evaluationevidence (e.g. best available evidence analyses) whenrelevant peer reviewed sources are limited.
Definitions Human Capital – Recognizable skills andexperience. Largely quantifiable (e.g. yearsof experience) and identifiable (e.g. degreefrom recognized university) Social Capital – The value of attachment tosocial networks (friends, family, culturalgroups, language groups* etc.). Oftenintangible, hard to quantify. More inclinedto qualitative measurement.
BackgroundTraditionally, economic measures are applied toassess settlement results (e.g. earnings, tax data,social support payments, etc.). Often cross-tabulatedby human capital factors (e.g. education, years ofexperience, skills, etc.)By all common metrics, the settlement results ofCanadian immigrants have not improved in 20 yrs.Policy increasingly concentrates on economiccriteria in intake decisions. As a result measurementof outcomes (e.g. settlement) follows suit.If results haven’t improved, it is worth measuringother factors that influence success and use them toinfluence policy, program development, and “eval”.Hypothesis is that you can have an economicagenda, fulfilled, (in part) by SC
Background (2)Federal intent of immigration is to pursue themaximum social, cultural and economic benefits ofimmigration (i.e. IRPA 2001).Challenging to understand benefits being derived if wedo not understand the baseline and do not measure theoutcomes.Need to inform theory-based approaches going forwardUltimately, improve settlement experience byconsidering SC at intake and support SC in settlement.Theoretically, if SC is better understood, the$1Billion spent on settlement could be optimizedHere is some additional supporting evidence...
ApproachReviewed 50 journal articles and 12 evaluations.Boiled down to approx. 8 articles and 8 evaluationsthat provided the bulk of the evidence.Canadian literature is not extensive. Xue (2008)stated that US studies were not highly applicableWithout ``best available`` evaluation analysis theevidence would have been thin!Standard content analysis of info related to family,social groups, cultural groups, etc.
Why is human capital not enough?Credentials are a critical component ofHuman CapitalThe “Golden Goose” is Canadian experienceFCR is imperfect and somewhat misalignedwith labour market realities. For example:Discounting of foreign credentials is rampant.(Brouwer 1999; Alboim, Finnie et al. 2005; Carter2009; CIC 2010c; Sommerville et al. 2010).If discounting occurs labour marketintegration will not be commensurate toexpectations of Canada and the newcomer.
Why is human capital not enough? (2)Discounting HC is often influenced byemployer and regulatory requirements forCanadian work experience, licensing forregulated professionals, and work-specificlanguage abilities (Alboim et al, 2007).If your human capital is discounted what are youleft with?Essentially selection and integration are notdirectly aligned, as selection criteria is intakefocussed rather than integration focussed.(Boudarbat and Boulet, 2007)
How can understanding SC help? (Lit)SC has been found to benefit human capital (e.g. wageimpact, better job). Strong ties (e.g. family) are moreinfluential than weak social ties (e.g. organizations).Especially for those who are disadvantaged withrespect to their human capital. (Xue, 2008)One of very few Canadian studies of this nature.Contrary to findings of US studies.SC of immigrants has been correlated withfundamental well-being indicators such as health(Zhao, Xue, & Gilikson, 2010)Evaluations and other research demonstrates that HCis enhanced by SC. For example, speed of access todesired job is reduced by social networks (Grenier &Xue, 2011)
How can understanding SC help? (Evaluation)Some immigration streams mitigate discounting byensuring a job offer is secured in advance (CIC 2011a).Other streams allow applicants who rate high on HCcriteria to roll the dice in the labour market.There is inherent risk in this, without fullyunderstanding, at a policy level, how SC will bolster thesettlement experience.A few economic settlement program (e.g. PNP) havedeliberately weighed SC, once fundamental HCmeasures were met. (SC safety net)Family of Canadians citizens (e.g. cousins, aunts, uncles,siblings). Theory being family will support the integrationexperience and new arrivals will help retention of earlyarrivals.Small scale. Too soon to know the full extent .
How can understanding SC help?Current emphasis is on high skilled immigrants; expandinglow wage TFW positions (i.e. low skilled positions); andencouraging settlement in less populated areas (whereformal settlement supports are minimal). (Dobrowolsky2012)Although economic opportunities are distributed across Canada,formal and information social supports are not deliveredconsistently outside major urban centres (Akbari 2008).Economic agendas tend not to recognize this imbalance indistribution of social supports.More can be done to establish the causal linkages between SC,HC and settlement outcome to ensure that SC is considered ateach stage.
What can be done?We are seeing examples of SC as the catalyst to make HCwork.Some Provinces deliberately use tailored settlementsupports to attract immigrants away from major centres(Akbari, 2008; Carter et al, 2008)Recent changes indicate the lens is widening. In provinceswhere immigrants are encouraged to settle away from themajor centres are expanding social settlement supportstargeted at the principal applicants and their families. E.g. Hubs in Saskatchewan Targeting source countries and cultural groupsThe network of support provided by friends and familythrough their settlement process (Carter 2009).All of these findings are like blips on the radar and we needto connect the dots.
What are the potential hurdles?Applying the knowledge- SPO capacity is limited inproviding a full spectrum of social and economicsettlement supports (Richmond and Shields 2005).Consider alternate approaches to apply and measureMaking sense if it- currently some programs consider SC tobe an asset (e.g. PNP). Others see SC as both an asset anda liability.Family who provide job offers are a risk (i.e. potential sourceof fraudulent job offers) (CIC, 2010c).
How to measure social capitalNo easy answer. Coming years will be telling.QualitativeFocus Groups- we are fairly successful in reaching groups ofnewly settled Canadians in most evaluations of settlementprograms. They tend to be forthcoming and willing to sharetheir experience. The narrative is there to be captured. (e.g. PNP, ELT groupsetc.). Need a mandate through the evaluation framework.QuantitativeSurveys- Surveys of newcomers have come a long way overthe past decade. Likely the preferred quantitative method.Administrative data tends to not be available. Could be built indown the road. Unlike with qualitative methods, the evidence is not there.Need to build this into surveys. Tough balance when you arecompeting with questions of economic impact.
What sources contribute?Work continues in terms of research into theconsideration of social capital in immigration andsettlement. (e.g. Xue 2008, 2010, 2011). This is required to inform appropriate indicators.As CIC moves toward the next evaluation of the$1B settlement program (2 to 3 years from now)they have started to plan a coordinated approach.Settlement evaluation evidence is beingconsolidated under a special study to get a holisticview of the suite of programs.With this in mind, hopefully the metric areexpanded to draw linkages between social andhuman capital.
ConclusionLabour market integration is a continual challenge,with little evidence of progress.Considering economic realities and labour marketneeds, human capital remains an important aspect ofselection criteria.However, predicting success, purely on an economicbasis, omits social factors that contribute to settlementand sustain economic outcomes over the long-term.This is a particularly important consideration given thehigh proportion of population growth that is attributedto immigration.The challenge lies in the measurement.
DiscussionQuestions?Are you aware of examples where evaluations arebeing used as “best available” source onevidence?What are some thematic areas in which thismethod could be applied?
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