Rural Immigrant Population Growth, 1950-2000: Waves or Ripples?
Using U.S. Census data from 1950 to 2000, this paper provides a framework to compare the responses of immigrant and native population growth to the economic incentives offered by rural counties in the Midwest and the South. We find that in marked contrast to traditional destinations for new immigrants such as urban areas or rural California, growth of the immigrant population in these nontraditional rural destinations is not tied to concentrations of existing immigrant populations. Rural immigrant population growth is more responsive than native populations to economic incentives and immigrant growth is not affected by local welfare or other government services. The native-born population tends to respond more to growth in specific industries, while immigrant populations are more responsive to overall employment growth. Rural immigrant population growth is not positively influenced by levels of local welfare or other public services. Compared to earlier immigrant groups, more recent waves of rural immigrants are influenced more by the number of jobs than by income levels in deciding where to live.
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