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Destination matters: Policy options to balance the distribution of Iranian immigrants in Canada

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Dispersing newcomers to destinations outside Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver is a key objective of Canadian immigration policy. The concentration of immigrants in these cities has been a longstanding settlement pattern that contributes to a range of social, environmental, and economic issues. This study first develops knowledge about immigrants’ locational choice and the effectiveness of regional immigration programs. Second, it conducts a quantitative and a qualitative data analysis to obtain a broad understanding of Iranian immigrants’ locational preferences, as a highly concentrated ethnic group in the major cities. The data analysis shows the destination decision of Iranian immigrants are highly influenced by their social networks and the content of online platforms. The main locational criteria for Iranian immigrants appears to be the job prospects, educational opportunities, and climate at destination. The study then introduces three policy options and an evaluation framework to analyze those options. The policy analysis indicates the option of ‘Clustering Immigrants in Second-Tier Cities’ would have the best tradeoffs to achieve the policy’s key objectives. The recommended policy would especially be highly effective in attracting Iranian immigrants to targeted cities and establishing a long-term settlement, which can ultimately balance their distribution.
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