Study: Immigrants Fared Better than Native Homeowners in Recession

Study: Immigrants Fared Better than Native Homeowners in Recession

10/29/2013 BY: CARRIE BAY

A new study from the University of Southern California Lusk Center for Real Estate reveals that immigrant Asian and Latino homeowners were more successful at holding onto their homes during the Great Recession than native-born homeowners.

Gary Painter, research director for the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate who co-authored the report with associate professor Zhou Yu, noted that while most homeowners took an economic hit during the recession, the decline in homeownership and headship rates was much slower for immigrants. In fact, in some metro areas, there was no decline at all among the immigrant population.

“In 2007-2009, we had this shock in both housing and jobs and expected the more vulnerable population of immigrants to suffer the most. This wasn’t the case,” Painter said. “Immigrants came through the recession in a much better position than their native-born counterparts.”

Painter, who has spent 15 years studying the ever-growing importance of the immigrant population on the U.S. economy, says the study primarily looked at the data

itself and not the factors behind immigrant populations’ successful navigation of the recession. However, a number of demographic trends occurring at the time surely played a role.

“When the recession hit, there were fewer immigrants coming into the country,” Painter said. “That meant the immigration population here was more mature and settled, while any newcomers would have most likely rented.”

He continued, “A second reason is that immigrants have always been more geographically mobile and may have been able to move away more quickly to find jobs in areas that weren’t hit as hard by the recession.”

Painter also noted that recent immigrants were unlikely to be exposed to the most egregious abuses of subprime mortgage lending.

Painter expects research into immigration and its effects on the economy to continue gaining in importance since current population trends predict the majority of population growth in the United States—over 100 million people in the next 40 years—will come from immigration.

The Lusk Center study was funded by the Russell Sage Foundation and used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The authors reviewed the top 20 U.S. cities in terms of immigrant population and an additional 60 cities that represent a cross section of smaller metropolitan areas across the country. The authors also reviewed records on home foreclosures from the Federal Reserve and unemployment data.

The University of Southern California Lusk Center for Real Estate seeks to advance real estate knowledge, inform business practice, and address timely issues affecting the real estate industry, urban economy, and public policy.


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