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Why are Chinese Homeownership Rates so high?

Gary Painter, Lihong Yand and Zhou Yu
Traditional assimilation theory suggests immigrant adaptation into society as a function of catching up to the status of the host society. Recent Chinese immigrants, rather than climbing socioeconomic ladders over time, may have achieved a socioeconomic status comparable to that of native-born whites soon after arrival, as measured by their homeownership rates (Painter et al, forthcoming). The characteristics of Chinese communities in this analysis more closely fit the description of ethnic communities described in Alba et al (2002) than ethnic enclaves Borjas (2000). Chinese homeownership rates adjusted by socioeconomic and housing market characteristics are on average 18 percentage points higher than those of native white households. The results of this study find that none of this gap can be explained by the English proficiency of households. On the other hand, the cultural influence of homeowning peers may have partially contributed to the higher homeownership of Chinese households. Finally, we find that there is great diversity among Chinese subgroups with respect to their likelihood of owning a home, but very little diversity with respect to the education and income level of Chinese households.