Many Asian Americans Are as Segregated by Neighborhood as Latinos

Emily Alpert, Los Angeles Times, June 25, 2013

People with Chinese or Vietnamese roots are as segregated as Latinos in neighborhoods nationwide, a study from Brown University has found. In Los Angeles and Orange counties, the pattern is even more extreme—and has grown more so over the last two decades.

But the same study suggests that that may not necessarily be a problem. In many cities, some Asian Americans live in neighborhoods that appear “separate but equal,” with incomes and education levels as high or higher than largely white neighborhoods, researchers said.

That contrasts sharply with the dismal history of segregation for Latinos and blacks in the U.S., said John R. Logan, a Brown University professor of sociology. The flourishing of many Chinese, Indian and Korean neighborhoods may be what keeps people there from moving into more integrated areas.

If your neighborhood is doing well, “where would the motive be to change?” asked Logan, co-author of the study. “There may in fact be a strong element of separation in the future.”

It’s no surprise that immigrants gravitate toward “ethnoburbs,” suburban areas such as Monterey Park that are filled with ethnic businesses. “You can read the newspaper, listen to the radio, buy a house from a real estate agent, go to a doctor and get your groceries from people who speak your language,” said Linda Vo, a professor of Asian American studies at UC Irvine.

What’s interesting is that at least some of their children have stayed, even as they integrate into American life, Vo said.


Researchers measured segregation using an “index of dissimilarity” based on Census Bureau data, gauging how whites and Asian Americans were spread across areas.

{snip} Vietnamese, Indian and Chinese Americans are as separated from whites where they live as are Latinos. Japanese Americans are the least residentially segregated.


Brown University researchers also discovered that Asian Americans in Los Angeles and Orange counties lived in neighborhoods with lower household incomes, on average, than those of whites. That makes the Los Angeles area different from the average metropolitan area in the U.S., where median household incomes for Asian American neighborhoods rival or exceed those of white areas, one reason researchers call the neighborhoods “separate but equal.”


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