Suburbanization and Growing Socio-Spatial Polarization: A Case Study of Korean Americans in Greater Los Angeles

Authors: Donghee Koh*, University of Tennessee
Topics: Immigration/Transnationalism, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Korean Americans, residential cluster, Los Angeles, local statistic, correspondence analyses, segregation, social polarization
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Studio 8, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The major influx of Korean immigrants to the United States started only after the Immigration Act of 1965. Unlike earlier European immigrants who were mostly low-skilled manual laborers, Korean immigrants comprise a wider socioeconomic strata, which resulted in their diversified residential choices. This study examines Korean immigrants’ residential settlement patterns and associated neighborhood characteristics in light of various theoretical frameworks on residential sorting and hence enhance our understanding of contemporary immigrants in Los Angeles. We delineate the boundaries of Korean residential clusters using local statistics. Later, each cluster’s neighborhood characteristics are compared and contrasted through typology and correspondence analyses – methods rarely used in segregation research. We find that Koreans’ spatial distribution patterns show a clear distinction between the traditional Koreatown and numerous other secondary suburban clusters. The gradual suburbanization process of Korean immigrants has resulted in growing socio-spatial polarization between the Koreatown and suburban clusters – a finding from correspondence analyses.

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