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Home Equity of New Legal Immigrants in the United States: An Evaluation of Three Key Theoretical Perspectives


  • An earlier version of the paper was presented at the American Sociological Association, August 2007. The authors appreciate the suggestions of Jorge Chapa, the Editor, and three anonymous reviewers.


Housing in the U.S. is a substantial expenditure, but possessing equity in a home also represents an important source of wealth. This study employs 2003 data from the New Immigrant Survey to examine the home equity of legal immigrants who have come to the U.S. from around the world. We empirically test the relevance of three key theoretical frameworks for predicting immigrants' home equity and evaluate each framework's ability to account for differences in home equity among origin groups. We find strong support for the assimilation and the segmented assimilation frameworks, and little support for the place stratification perspective, net of other factors. Substantial differences in the home equity between origin groups persist even in the presence of multiple controls, with implications for legal immigrants' current economic position and future well-being in the U.S.