Wealth accumulation among U.S. immigrants: A study of assimilation and differentials

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Data from the New Immigrant Survey are used to study wealth differentials among U.S. legal permanent residents. This study is unique in its ability to account for wealth held in the U.S. and that held abroad and yields several key findings. First, relative to immigrants from Western Europe, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand (who have median wealth similar to native born non-Hispanic whites), other immigrant groups have lower levels of total wealth even after accounting for permanent income and life course characteristics. Second, time in the U.S. is positively associated with the wealth of married immigrants, yet this relationship is not statistically significant for single immigrants. Third, differences in the means of measured characteristics between Western European immigrants and those from most other origin regions account for more than 75 percent of observed wealth disparities. However, for immigrants from Asia and from the Indian subcontinent, much of the wealth differential remains unexplained by these factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1390-1401
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Assimilation
  • Economic well-being
  • Immigration
  • Wealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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