Toronto as a Gateway City

Toronto as a Gateway City

The emerging study of gateway cities in sociology, history, and geography (Price and Benton-Short 2008, 6) reflects the significance of contemporary international migration. “While movements of people across borders have shaped states and societies since time immemorial, what is distinctive in recent years is their global scope, their centrality to domestic and international politics and their enormous economic and social consequences” (Castles and Miller 2003, 2). Based on a review of the research literature, Lisa Benton-Short and Marie Price suggest the following themes are significant for gateway cities:
  • Hyperdiversity: This is characterized by “cities where no one country of origin accounts for 25 percent or more of the immigrant stock and immigrants come from all over the world” (Price and Benton-Short 2008, 15). 
  • Episodic: Immigrant flows can change over time as they are influenced by factors of social networks and economics (Price and Benton-Short 2008, 16). -Immigration policies: “Shifting national policies are extremely important in explaining the changing flows and composition of immigrants to cities around the world” (Price and Benton- Short 2008, 17).
  • Urban policies: Which may encourage or discourage immigrants.
  • Identity: “Most people have nested identities based on different scales of belonging” (Price and Benton-Short 2008, 19).
  • Spatial assimilation or segregation: Immigrant residences and business locations have “concrete spatial implications for a metropolitan area” (Price and Benton-Short 2008, 19).
  • New socioeconomic spaces: While obviously linked to the previous theme, the globalization and local development of gateway city economies is a significant consideration.
  • Labor markets: Immigrants tend to “constitute a higher percentage of the labor force than they do of the population as a whole” (Price and Benton-Short 2008, 20-21).
  • Contestation: The “various impacts of immigrants are negotiated and contested” (Price and Benton-Short 2008, 21) by established residents and immigrants themselves.


Castles, Stephen, and Mark J. Miller. 2003. The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World. 3rd ed. New York: Guilford Press.

Price, Marie D., and Lisa Benton-Short. 2008. Migrants to the Metropolis: The Rise of Immigrant Gateway CitiesSpace, Place and Society. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.


gateway cities, diaspora, immigrants, migration patterns