Richard A. Wright

Professor of Geography
Orvil Dryfoos Professor of Public Affairs

Richard is interested in how immigrants fit into US society. His long-term collaborator, Mark Ellis (University of Washington), and he address this question in several ways. They study the labor market interactions of immigrants and migrants in and between the major metropolitan areas and regions of the United States. This research features the deeply segmented nature of these labor markets and the limited interaction between the foreign born and the native born. Richard also studies housing markets—again from the perspective of race and racism. New projects also revisit a long-term interest in skilled migration.

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CURRENT RESEARCH

* Enclaves, labor markets, and the locational choices of us immigrants in economic boom and bust (Funded by NSF)

The US economy recently cycled from a period of significant growth into the deepest recession since the 1930s. What impact has this swing had on the geographical distribution of immigrants? In the last two decades, immigrants settled increasingly outside California and other traditional gateway states. Immigrant populations grew rapidly in the South and Midwest, regions that previously had been relatively untouched by the upswing in immigration that began 50 years ago. Constrained labor demand and relatively expensive living costs in gateway locations reduced the attraction of these traditional places of settlement. The South and Midwest offered affordable prices and a seemingly insatiable demand for immigrant labor in sectors like construction, services, and competitive manufacturing. The credit-fueled boom that drew many immigrants to these new locations has fizzled and there are signs that migration behavior has also changed. Fewer people are migrating across state lines. The total annual inflow of immigrants is also diminishing and some states are experiencing slower growth or declines in their foreign-born populations. This project explores these trends, particularly as they relate to the shifting distribution of immigrants within the US. It does so by incorporating an investigation of these issues with existing theoretical frameworks for understanding immigrant locational distributions. This synthesis yields three research questions:

How do immigrants – as both new arrivals from abroad and as internal migrants - respond to the pull of enclaves of co-nationals and the geography of employment opportunities?

How do individual and group characteristics affect these responses to enclaves and labor markets?

And, crosscutting these first two questions, are the responses to enclaves and markets – and their mediation by individuals and groups - different in the current economic hard times from what occurred in the generally prosperous era of the 1990s?

These questions hinge on a tension between the geography of labor markets and ethnic enclaves. Market pressures stimulated a relocation of immigrant settlement away from traditional gateways and associated enclaves. Immigrant populations expanded in new destinations forming new enclaves, which drew in more newcomers in a cumulative causative process. At the same time, immigrants who had been in the country for a time acquired new language and other skills enabling them to reduce their reliance on enclave support systems and disperse in search of opportunities.

Publications from this project to date:

Natasha Rivers, Richard Wright, and Mark Ellis 2015 "The Great Recession and the Migration Redistribution of Blacks and Whites in the US South," Growth and Change, forthcoming.

Mark Ellis, Richard Wright, Kristy Copeland, and Matt Townley.2014 "The migration response to the Legal Arizona Workers Act" Political Geography, 42, 46-56. DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2014.06.001.

Mark Ellis, Richard Wright, and Matt Townley.2014 "The Allure of New Immigrant Destinations and the Great Recession in the United States," International Migration Review, 48, 1, 3-33. DOI: 10.1111/imre.12058

Wright, Richard and Mark Ellis 2014. "Perspectives on Migration Theory – Geography". Handbook on Migration. Michael White, editor. Forthcoming.

Mark Ellis, Richard Wright, and Matt Townley 2013 " 'New Destinations' and immigrant poverty," Stephen Raphael and David Card, (eds.) Immigration, Poverty, and Socioeconomic Inequality in the United States. Russell Sage Foundation.

* The mixed-race household in residential space: neighborhood context, segregation, and multiracial identities (Russell Sage and NSF Funded Research, Steve Holloway and Mark Ellis, co-PIs)

This research investigated the neighborhood geographies of mixed-race households in US metropolitan areas. Most previous research on mixed-race households investigates partnership formation, asking how mixed-race unions come to be. This project asks how mixed-race unions come to be in place. It explores the implications of mixed-race household geographies for residential segregation and for multiracial identity formation. The work has major significance for our understandings of racial formation, urban social geographies, and household decision making. Restricted 1990 and 2000 census data is key to this project. These data provide information on individuals and households in a format similar to the Public Use Micro Samples but in a much larger sample that includes census tract and block group identifiers. As such, these data allow us to map the neighborhood geographies of mixed-race households and to model how neighborhood characteristics affect mixed-race household location in urban space and the racial identity mixed-race couples assign to their minor children.

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646-3523
Fairchild 118
HB 6017
Department(s): 
Geography
Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies
Education: 
B.Ed. University of Nottingham
M.A. Indiana University
Ph.D. Indiana University

Selected Publications

Mark Ellis, Richard Wright, Kristy Copeland, and Matt Townley (2014) “The migration response to the Legal Arizona Workers Act” Political Geography, 42, 46-56. DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2014.06.001.

Mark Ellis, Richard Wright, and Matt Townley (2014) “The Allure of New Immigrant Destinations and the Great Recession in the United States,” International Migration Review, 48, 1, 3-33. DOI: 10.1111/imre.12058.

Eva Janská, Zdenek Čermák and Richard Wright (2014) “New Immigrant Destinations in a New Immigrant Country: Settlement Patterns of Non-natives in the Czech Republic” Population, Space, and Place. DOI: 10.1002/psp.1824.

Natasha Rivers, Richard Wright and Mark Ellis (2014) “The Great Recession and the Migration Redistribution of Blacks and Whites in the US South,” Growth and Change, forthcoming.

Richard Wright, Mark Ellis, and Steven Holloway (2014) “Neighbourhood racial diversity and White residential segregation in the United States,” Christopher D. Lloyd, Ian G. Shuttleworth, David Wong, (eds.) Social-Spatial Segregation: Concepts, Processes and Outcomes. Polity Press. Pp. 111-134.

Mark Ellis, Richard Wright, and Matt Townley (2013) “ ‘New Destinations’ and immigrant poverty,” Stephen Raphael and David Card, (eds.) Immigration, Poverty, and Socioeconomic Inequality in the United States. Russell Sage Foundation, pp. 135-165.

Richard Wright, Mark Ellis, Steven Holloway (2013) “Gender and the neighborhood location of mixed-race couples,” Demography, 50, 2, 393-420. DOI 10.1007/s13524-012-0158-0.

Richard Wright, Mark Ellis, Steven Holloway, and Sandy Wong '11 (2013) “Patterns of Racial Segregation and Diversity in the United States: 1990-2010,” The Professional Geographer, 66, 2, 173-182. DOI: 10.1080/00330124.2012.735924, .

Works in progress

Principal Investigator, with Jonathan Chipman (Dartmouth College), “An Interactive Web-Based Atlas of Segregation and Diversity.” CompX Faculty Grant, Neukom Institute, Dartmouth College.

Principal Investigator, with Mark Ellis, (U. of Washington), “Enclaves, labor markets, and the locational choices of US immigrants in economic boom and bust.” National Science Foundation.

Principal Investigator, with Mark Ellis, (U. of Washington), "From College to Work: Connecting STEM Education and STEM Employment in US Labor Markets." Scholarly Innovation and Advancement Award. Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Dartmouth College.