Intra-metropolitan Opportunity Structure and Immigrant Self-employment

  • Cathy Yang LiuEmail author
Part of the International Perspectives on Migration book series (IPMI, volume 10)


The rapid increase of immigrant population in metropolitan areas across the United States brings significant changes to urban labor market. While many immigrants integrate into the formal labor market through participation in wage and salaried work, a substantive proportion of Latino and Asian immigrants are making their way into ethnic entrepreneurship through their own businesses. Using 2000 Census microdata for the Atlanta metropolitan area as a case study, this research investigates the effect of intra-metropolitan opportunity structure and local area context, especially spatial structure, urban employment pattern, social environment and ethnic concentration, on Asian and Latino immigrants’ incidence of self-employment. These two groups grew rapidly both in the total labor force and among the self-employed in Atlanta. It is found that living in central city and inner ring suburbs depresses Latino immigrants’ entrepreneurial activities. The growth of trade jobs and concentration of immigrants in a local area both give rise to immigrant entrepreneurship. Results suggest that traditional theories like disadvantage theory needs to be reassessed in the context of new immigrant gateways, while the ethnic enclave hypothesis is still validated. Potential policies to promote immigrant entrepreneurship are also discussed.


Immigrants Self-employment Opportunity structure Atlanta 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Andrew Young School of Policy StudiesGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA

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