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Cityscape: Volume 11 Number 3 | Chapter 4



Volume 11 Number 3

Exploring Recent Trends in Immigrant Suburbanization

Casey J. Dawkins

As with the articles in this issue, this introduction reflects the views of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Central cities historically have been viewed as "ports of entry" welcoming new immigrants to the United States. Beginning in the 1970s, new immigrants began to settle in areas outside traditional ports of entry as economic opportunities moved to the suburbs and new suburban immigrant enclaves emerged. By the end of the 20th century, foreign-born suburbanites outnumbered foreign-born central city residents.
This article relies on microdata from the U.S. Current Population Survey to identify the determinants of suburban location choice among foreign-born U.S. residents. The analysis includes a variety of controls for household-level socioeconomic characteristics, metropolitan area characteristics, and country of origin. Graphs displaying trends in suburbanization and location choice among U.S. immigrants, along with logit regression models of suburban destination, suggest that recent waves of foreign-born immigrants choose residential locations in conformance with spatial assimilation theory. The study also finds evidence that native and immigrant groups place a different value on the consumer amenities found in the central city and the transportation access and owner-occupied housing supply found in the suburbs. Trends in immigrant suburbanization follow trends in housing and gas prices. These trends have interacted with metropolitan-specific conditions to affect rates of suburbanization among foreign-born residents.

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