WE WON'T TURN BACK: THE POLITICAL ECONOMY PARADOXES OF IMMIGRANT AND ETHNIC MINORITY SETTLEMENT IN SUBURBAN AMERICA
Frasure, Lorrie Ann
Williams, Linda F.
MetadataShow full item record
This study investigates the intersection of suburban political economy and recent immigrant and ethnic minority suburbanization in the United States. It uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to address: what factors lead various minority groups to move to multi-ethnic areas called suburban melting pot metros (SMPMs); how these spatial location decisions vary by class or race-based preferences; and how suburban institutions respond to the issues raised by immigrant and ethnic minority groups. Using the 1990 and 2000 Census Public Use Micro-data Series (PUMS), I test some key theories of residential migration, including spatial assimilation, place stratification, and 'economic sorting'. In a multivariate logit regression analysis, between non-Hispanic whites, blacks, Asians, and Latinos, residing in 29 US suburban areas, I find that SMPMs attract groups with lower levels of educational attainment. Moreover, rising income increases the likelihood that blacks and Latinos seek multi-ethnic suburban residence. While racial change had little impact on SMPM settlement, post-1980s immigration and linguistic isolation were significant predictors of SMPM settlement. Rises in housing values are likely to increase SMPM settlement for whites and Asians, but property tax increases are not a significant predictor of SMPM settlement for any of the groups. These Census results are supplemented by a case study of suburban Washington, DC. Data from five focus group discussions between black, Chinese, Iranian, Korean and Latino groups reveal that quality schools, safe neighborhoods, employment and housing opportunities, and pre-established family ties commonly attracted these individuals to certain suburban DC jurisdictions. Spatial location decisions, particularly for blacks, are limited by income. Perceptions of a county's ability to deliver local goods and services or the race/ethnicity of current county residents also influenced location decisions. Finally, using qualitative data from a collection of 114 in-depth interviews with elite officials in suburban Washington, DC, I develop a concept called 'Suburban Institutional Interdependency' (SII) to examine how local institutions respond to the issues raised by immigrant groups. The central tenets of this approach suggest that through repeated interactions, generalized reciprocity, and an exchange of selective incentives, suburban institutions may collaborate, to meet the needs and demands of suburban newcomers.