Explaining Chinese Restaurants, Korean Dry Cleaning, and Indian Motels

By Gillian B. White in The Atlantic

In the U.S. one might notice a curious concentration when it comes to jobs—certain ethnicities dominate certain industries. Greek immigrants are more likely to run restaurants than immigrants from other countries, and Koreans more likely to run dry-cleaning shops. Yemeni immigrants are 75 times more likely than immigrants of other ethnicities to own grocery stores, and Gujarati-speaking Indians are 108 times more likely to run motels.

Specialization among ethnic minorities, immigrant or not, isn’t new: It’s happened with Jewish merchants during Medieval times and with the Chinese in the laundry industry in 1920s California. Why does it happen so often? A recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research attempts to explain this phenomenon.

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