Consumer Behavior in Ethnic Enclaves: Does Co-Ethnic Density Reduce Consumer Spending?

Scott Tuttle
ChangHwan Kim, University of Kansas

Though sociological research on immigrant enclaves and co-ethnic spatial homogeneity is rife with analyses on how associated conditions affect entrepreneurship, research on these phenomena from the consumer’s perspective is lacking. This paper purports to bridge the gap between research on immigrant entrepreneurs, which often relies heavily on variations of the enclave thesis and theories of concentrated wealth and poverty, with research on consumers, particularly with regards to established theories on consumer ethnocentrism and consumer acculturation. Using the 1995-2015 Current Population Survey, we test the effect of co-ethnic immigrant density on degrees of consumer spending per week on food. Focusing specifically on Mexican immigrants and East Asian immigrants, who each make up a significant portion of the foreign-born population, our results indicate that increases in co-ethnic density significantly corresponded decreases in weekly spending for Mexicans, but increases in spending for East Asians. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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 Presented in Session 7. Migration & Urbanization