, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 143-171
Date: 26 Mar 2009

Housing Cost Burden and New Lawful Immigrants in the United States

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Abstract

Housing in the United States constitutes the largest expenditure for many households. Increasing rents and home prices, changes in the mortgage industry, and the growing importance of immigrants in the U.S. housing market underscore the value of examining the economic hardship that housing costs pose for immigrants. As is true for the native-born, immigrants’ allocation of financial resources to housing influences the funds available for savings, investments, survival of emergencies, and the overall economic well-being of children and families. This project employs 2003 national-level data of legal permanent residents from the New Immigrant Survey to examine an outcome lacking sufficient empirical study: the proportion of household income spent on housing. The study examines whether disparities in immigrant housing cost burden by country/region of origin persist after accounting for differences in human capital, stage in the life cycle, assimilation, and other factors. The analyses disaggregate immigrants from Latin America, Asia, Europe and other areas into more nuanced categories. The results document that after controlling for a diverse array of variables, legal immigrants vary widely in housing cost burdens by country/region of origin. These disparities have implications for the future wealth accumulation and long-term financial security of immigrants in the United States.