Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Weiwei Zhang


Asians and Hispanics, Nativity Status, Race and Ethnicity, Resurgent Ethnicity, Segmented Assimilation, Spatial Assimilation


Immigration from Asia and Latin America has rapidly changed the race and ethnic composition of the non-White population in the United States. This dissertation examines the question of race/ethnicity, nativity, and how acculturation and socioeconomic characteristics impact residential outcomes for Asian and Hispanic immigrants, a process often termed as residential assimilation. It also tests the effectiveness of spatial assimilation, segmented assimilation, and resurgent ethnicity theories for understanding residential segregation across metropolitan neighborhoods. Three sets of analyses are presented in this dissertation. The first set of analyses studies the nativity difference in residential segregation levels between Asians and Hispanics from non-Hispanic Whites in metropolitan areas. In general, the findings from residential segregation patterns demonstrate that the classic spatial assimilation is not solely outdated but is only applicable to Hispanics. Looking closely into the nativity groups, Hispanic immigrants are more residentially segregated from Whites than are the native-born counterparts in all immigrant destinations (traditional gateways, new destinations, and other destinations). On the contrary, Asian nativity groups show a completely reverse pattern. By comparing the segregation levels of the aforementioned destination types, the native-born Asians are highly segregated from Whites than are the immigrant groups in other destinations, which portends that as Asians disperse to the newly emerging destinations, they are not spatially assimilated with Whites. The second part of analyses examines differences in residential propinquity of living in ethnic areas (defined by PUMAs) by race, nativity, and considers the role of individual socioeconomic and demographic characteristics for understanding disparities in residential preferences of living in ethnic areas. Results show that controlling for individual differences in acculturation and socioeconomic characteristics explains away the nativity difference, as the native-born Asians and Hispanics show a higher tendency of living in the ethnic areas compared to their respective foreign-born counterparts. Build on past research findings and framework, this result lends less support to the classic spatial assimilation model, but more to the segmented assimilation and resurgent ethnicity frameworks. Hispanics are generally low in acculturation and socioeconomic attainment measures, which in turn generate a “downward” social context for the nativeborn groups. However, the relatively advantaged Asian native-born are more likely to live in ethnic areas, which is suggestive of a voluntary process that is related to preference and taste, rather than economic constraints. The results from the last set of analyses show that Hispanic nativity groups are more responsive to the effects of human capital factors (demographics, English ability, and education) compared to Asians in the internal migration patterns. This nativity difference is the strongest at the relative risk of segregation. Consistent with spatial assimilation theory, I found that greater English proficiency and education help Hispanic immigrants disperse from established immigrant metropolitan areas. Whereas for Asians, advanced degrees are strongly related to the segregation migration. Moreover, other human capital characteristics, homeownership, family income, and self-employment, impact the internal migration differently on Asians and Hispanics, providing some evidence for the segmented assimilation and resurgent ethnicity theories.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Asian Americans.
Hispanic Americans.
Residential mobility -- United States.
Assimilation (Sociology)
United States -- Emigration and immigration.
Asia -- Emigration and immigration.
Latin America -- Emigration and immigration.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright