Immigration and Product Diversity
46 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2009 Last revised: 19 Sep 2010
Date Written: April 2009
We study the effects of immigration on the diversity of consumption choices. Data from California in the 1990s indicate that immigration is associated with fewer stand-alone retail stores, and a greater number of large and in particular big-box retailers - evidence that likely contradicts a diversity-enhancing effect of immigration. In contrast, focusing on the restaurant sector for which we can better identify the types of products consumed by customers, we find that immigration is associated with increased ethnic diversity of restaurants. This latter effect appears to come in part from the comparative advantage of immigrants in the production of ethnic goods.
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