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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Immigrants and social distance:  Examining the social consequences of immigration for Southern California neighborhoods over 50 years

  • Author(s): Hipp, John R
  • Boessen, Adam
  • et al.

"This project studied the effect of immigrant in-mobility on the trajectory of socioeconomic change in neighborhoods. The authors suggest that immigrant inflows may impact neighborhoods due to the consequences of residential mobility and the extent to which these new residents differ from the current residents. The authors use Southern California over a nearly 50-year period (1960 to 2007) as a case study to explore the short- and long- term impact of these changes. The authors find no evidence that immigrant inflow has negative consequences for home values, unemployment, or vacancies over this long period of time. Instead, the authors find that a novel measure they develop—a general measure of social distance—is much better at explaining the change in the economic conditions of these neighborhoods. Tracts with higher levels of social distance experienced a larger increase in the vacancy rate over the decade. The effect of social distance on home values changed over the study period: whereas social distance decreased home values during the 1960s, this completely reversed into a positive effect by the 2000s."

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