By 2050 minorities are expected to make up more than one-half of the United States population. Much of that growth can be attributed to the largest influx of immigrants since the turn of the 20th century. From 1981 to 1996, more than 13 million immigrants settled in the United States, with a majority choosing to live in 11 gateway metropolitan areas, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.
Immigrants of the early 20th century were typically located in central cities near others from their homeland, which led to such ethnic enclaves as the Little Italys and Chinatowns. Newly arrived residents moved to these areas to find jobs, housing, and a support system among relatives and friends who had come before them. In recent years immigrants have become a source for inner-city revitalization. The increased number of immigrants has helped to stabilize the populations of gateway cities as other residents moved to the suburbs. Neighborhood small businesses opened by immigrants have sparked revitalization and economic growth.
However, two recent studies reveal changes in this pattern as a growing number of immigrants flock to residences in the suburbs. "Immigrant Groups in the Suburbs: A Reexamination of Suburbanization and Spatial Assimilation," by Richard D. Alba, John R. Logan, Brian J. Stults, Gilbert Marzan, and Wenquan Zhang and "Neighborhood Opportunity Structures of Immigrant Populations, 1980 and 1990," by George C. Galster, Kurt Metzger, and Ruth Waite both examine changes in traditional immigrant settlement patterns.