Wealth among Immigrants and Native-Born Americans: Persistent Racial/Ethnic Inequality

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

Wealth attainment is a strong indicator of immigrants’ integration in U.S. society. Drawing on new assimilation theory, we emphasize how racial/ethnic realities in the United States provide differential opportunities and constraints for immigrants’ wealth attainment. In addition to race/ethnicity, we examine how immigrants’ U.S. experience, such as immigration status, U.S. education, English language proficiency, and time spent in the United States, affects their ability to acquire assets and attain wealth. Using the Survey of Income and Program Participation and quantile regression techniques, we find that race/ethnicity, as well as immigrants’ U.S. experience, shape immigrant wealth attainment. In addition, immigrants also vary in home and stock ownership. Overall, this study documents persistent racial/ethnic inequality, revealing that even when accounting for key aspects of U.S. experience, wealth parity with whites for racial/ethnic minorities is not attained.

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Presented in Session 215: Race, Gender, and Nativity Inequalities in Economic Outcomes