Youth Migration in the Context Of Rural Brain Drain: Longitudinal Evidence From Canada

Yujiro Sano, Cathlene Hillier, Michael Haan, David Zarifa


Population growth in many major cities is partly driven by migration from rural areas, which constrains these communities’ development. Despite this concern, research that longitudinally examines the patterns and predictors of youth outmigration to urban areas, as well as return migration to rural areas, is very limited in Canada. To address this void, we longitudinally link Canada’s Youth in Transition Survey, Cohort A, and the Programme for International Student Assessment reading scores, measured at age 15, to individuals’ tax filer information through age 30 via
the T1 Family File to examine the characteristics and extent of rural Canada’s youth out- and return migration. Our analysis points to two important findings: (a) the ‘leavers’ are more educated with higher levels of employability and income than the ‘stayers’ and (b) the ‘returners’ tend to come back to rural areas as a result of
economic constraints in urban areas. Based on these findings, we provide several recommendations for policymakers and future research.

Keywords: Brain drain, out-migration, Programme for International Student Assessment, return migration, T1 Family File

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.