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The impact of official bilingualism on the geographic mobility of New Brunswickers: Evidence from 2001 to 2016

Author: J. C. Herbert Emery, Li Wang, Bethany Daigle
Year: 2019
Category: Population Dynamics and Immigration

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Are bilingual New Brunswickers more or less likely to move? 

New Brunswick is both the only bilingual province in Canada and the province with the highest rates of outmigration and intra-provincial (within the province) migration. Much attention has been paid to the problem of outmigration and movement from rural to urban areas in New Brunswick, as well as to bilingualism within the province – yet, these topics are not typically associated. Is it possible that bilingualism has an impact on the movements of New Brunswickers?

In this report, researchers from the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) use data from the 2006 and 2016 Census of Population and the 2011 National Household Survey to determine the effect of official bilingualism on the geographic mobility of New Brunswickers – that is, on their movements to relocate. They control for variables known to impact migration decisions, such as age, gender, marital status, and education level; and focus on the origins and destinations of New Brunswickers who move, while also examining the linguistic characteristics of New Brunswickers who remain in place. 

Results show that New Brunswickers with an English mother tongue are the most likely to leave New Brunswick – regardless of whether they are bilingual or unilingual. Meanwhile, acquiring a second official language is most highly associated with intra-provincial migration, suggesting that bilingualism improves labour market efficiency in New Brunswick by increasing the mobility of both Anglophones and Francophones throughout New Brunswick.