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Spatially Integrated Social Science: Chapter 6
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Identifying Ethnic Neighborhoods with Census Data: Group Concentration and Spatial Clustering
John R. Logan and Wenquan Zhang

Minorities and immigrants have always established distinctive settlement areas in American cities. These "ethnic neighborhoods" are most often identified and studied through fieldwork, where the researcher typically begins with the knowledge that a given locale is socially recognized as being the place of residence of a particular ethnic group. But to answer some kinds of questions (such as: How are ethnic neighborhoods different from other locales? What distinguishes their residents from group members who live elsewhere?) requires systematic methods of identifying neighborhoods and defining their boundaries. This chapter shows how two indicators of a group's residential pattern can be combined for this purpose. One, widely used in thematic maps, is the concentration of group members at the level of census tracts. Another is the spatial clustering of the concentrations. The method is illustrated for Chinese and Filipinos in the Los Angeles metropolitan region in 1990. It is shown that the location and character of ethnic neighborhoods varies widely within the region, from "immigrant enclaves" that primarily serve the needs of disadvantaged newcomers to "ethnic communities" serving the more affluent and better-established members of ethnic groups.


Figure 6.1

Figure 6.2


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