Immigration and the Evolution of Gentrification in U.S. Cities
Jackelyn I. Hwang, Harvard University
Gentrification and immigration simultaneously grew in U.S. cities, but few studies have examined their relationship. This study examines the role of Hispanics and Asians in gentrified neighborhoods across 23 cities. Using data from a field survey of gentrification, the decennial Census, and American Community Survey, I find that, compared to their “gentrifiable” counterparts, neighborhoods that eventually gentrified had more immigrants at least 20 years prior to their observed gentrification. While most “gentrifiable” neighborhoods experienced substantial black and white population declines, the early presence and increase of Asians and the lack of Hispanic growth stalled this trend in neighborhoods that gentrified. The positive impact of Asians on gentrification was stronger in black and homogeneous neighborhoods—consistent with theories of race-based residential selection for Asians, but not Hispanics. Therefore, disinvested neighborhoods that were black and had no racial changes or had growing Hispanic populations tended to remain disadvantaged despite widespread gentrification.