The Suburbanization of Ethnic Economies across America, 1990-2010

Mahesh Somashekhar, Princeton University

Although research is expanding on the growth of ethnic communities in American suburbs, no nationally representative study has measured the extent to which ethnic economies are developing alongside these communities. Suburban ethnic economies can have important consequences for ethnic social mobility as well as the economic vitality of the suburbs in which they operate. This paper uses data on 55 Metropolitan Statistical Areas between 1990 and 2010 to analyze how widespread ethnic economies have become in America’s suburbs. These data demonstrate that ethnic economies have indeed suburbanized, and that the growing ethnic market and linguistically isolated labor pool in the suburbs were two important reasons why this occurred. In addition, these data suggest that the presence of new immigrants and native-born ethnics are beginning to encourage suburban ethnic economy growth, meaning that individuals will likely rely on suburban ethnic economies as a means of social mobility in the future.

  See paper

Presented in Session 14: Ethnic Enclaves, New Destinations and Migrant Economic Outcomes