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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29721

Title: Transnational Activities and their Impact on Achieving a Successful Housing Career in Canada: The Case of Ghanaian Immigrants in Toronto
Authors: Firang, David
Advisor: Hulchanski, J. David
Department: Social Work
Keywords: international migration
social policy
immigrant settlement and integration
international social work
Issue Date: 30-Aug-2011
Abstract: Appropriate housing with security of tenure is an important factor in the immigrant settlement and integration process. However, many studies of immigrant settlement and the housing careers of immigrants do so within the borders of a nation-state without reference to transnationalism – immigrants’ ties and cross-border connections with the country of origin. This case study of the transnational ties and housing careers of Ghanaian immigrants in Toronto aims to increase our understanding of one recent immigrant group’s settlement and integration process in Canada. Using a mixed-method approach involving both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods, this study explores how transnational housing activities influence the housing careers of Ghanaians in Toronto. The findings include insights into the immigration history and the socio-demographic characteristics of Ghanaians in Toronto; the nature and extent of transnational ties between Ghana and Canada; the nature of housing careers among Ghanaians in Toronto; and the influence of transnationalism on housing careers of Ghanaians in Toronto. Although Ghanaians’ immigration to Canada dates from the late 1950s, Ghanaians started coming to Canada in noticeable numbers after the 1960s. Ghanaian immigration to Canada generally and to Toronto particularly surged in the 1980s and beyond. Deteriorating economic and political conditions in Ghana and relatively favourable immigration policies and a good economic climate in Canada were the driving forces behind Ghanaian migration to Canada. However, the Ghanaian settlement process in Toronto does not culminate in a complete break with the homeland. Rather, Ghanaians in Toronto have engaged in a range of transnational activities with the country of origin, including contacts with family and friends, travelling to or visiting Ghana, following Ghanaian politics, investing in housing or property in Ghana, running businesses in Ghana, attending funerals in Ghana, and making regular remittances to Ghana. With respect to Ghanaians’ housing careers, the study reveals that during their initial settlement period, most Ghanaians lived in public subsidized rental housing or poor-quality private rental housing. They considered their housing conditions as inadequate and unsuitable and were not satisfied with their neighbourhood’s safety and security. At the time of the survey, however, respondents were more likely to own homes and were more likely to feel safe and secure in their neighbourhoods. However, housing affordability remains a major problem for Ghanaians in Toronto. With respect to the influence of transnationalism on housing careers of Ghanaians in Toronto, the study finds that transnational housing activities, especially Ghanaians’ attitudes to and preference for investing in housing in Ghana, affect their housing careers in Toronto. Sending regular remittances to Ghana and investing in housing in the homeland involve mobilizing huge financial resources from Toronto to achieving their housing needs in the country of origin, while many Ghanaians struggle to meet their own needs in Toronto. A logistic regression analysis shows that personal income and strong ties with Ghana are statistically significant predictors of investing in housing in Ghana. At the same time, significant predictors of Ghanaians’ propensity to own a house in Canada include loyalty to Canada and household income. The study contributes conceptually and empirically to three areas of research – transnationalism, housing careers, and immigrant settlement and integration – which hitherto have been studied as separate themes. Conceptually, it breaks away from the traditional way of researching immigrant settlement and housing careers by introducing a new conceptual dimension, transnationalism. Further, this research has added new insights about a recently arrived immigrant group in Toronto. Finally, the study contributes to the social work literature by identifying an emerging field of international social work. It has drawn attention to the fact that in the era of transnationalism, the emergence of a population of migrants whose needs and lives transcend national borders will affect the future of social work research and practice.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29721
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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