Wealth inequality among immigrants and native-born Americans: the roles of race/ethnicity and immigrant status

Matthew A. Painter, University of Wyoming
Zhenchao Qian, Ohio State University

Much of the research on immigrants’ economic well-being demonstrates a disproportionate concentration of immigrants near the bottom of U.S. society. A neglected aspect of immigrant economic well-being is wealth or net worth. We use assimilation theory and data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation to explore immigrants’ wealth attainment and highlight how racial/ethnic realities in the United States provide differential opportunities and constraints for immigrants of different racial/ethnic backgrounds, net of factors such as length of U.S. stay, English fluency, and nativity status. We apply quantile regression to analyze net worth and logistic regression to explore immigrants’ investments, including homeownership and investment in stocks and bonds. Results provide evidence of a racial divide in wealth attainment. This study furthers our understanding of how long-lasting racial/ethnic inequalities in the United States influence diverse immigrants’ integration patterns.

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Presented in Session 53: Economic integration of immigrant populations