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Suburban Immigrant Koreans in Bergen County, New Jersey, 2004 (ICPSR 23545)

Version Date: Jul 1, 2009 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Sookhee Oh, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Version V1

Immigrant communities have been an indispensable element of United States metropolitan life, often playing the role of a way station on a long journey of assimilation. Reflecting this, a linear spatial assimilation theory asserts that immigrants settle initially in a segregated urban ethnic enclave and disperse as they achieve economic, social, and cultural assimilation. The growth of suburban immigrant communities over the last couple of decades, however, challenges this traditional notion; suburban residency is no longer the final stage of assimilation. For many new immigrants, suburbia has become the first stop rather than an eventual destination. Furthermore, transitory immigrant communities are not necessarily located in urban areas. Dispersed immigrant's practical needs can now be met by suburban ethnic enclaves. This points to spatial assimilation without the attenuation of ties to ethnic businesses, jobs, shopping malls, churches, and social service facilities.

The study examines this spatial dispersion without diminishing ethnic ties, that is, without ethnic attenuation. More specifically, it compares Korean households at varying degrees of spatial dispersion (i.e., concentrated, dispersed, and highly dispersed) and their corresponding job, consumption, religious, and social linkages to ethnic enclaves both in the suburbs and the central city. To do so, the study focused on the current ethnic linkages of dispersed Korean suburban immigrant households in Bergen County, New Jersey. Korean immigrants are a highly suburbanized group and are generally considered a challenge to the traditional spatial assimilation model. They, however, have not been extensively researched in this context. In addition, Bergen County, NJ is the largest and fastest growing suburban settlement of Korean immigrants in the New York metropolitan area. As such, it offers an unusual opportunity to examine the simultaneous occurrence of spatial dispersion and ethnic concentration.

Methodologically, the study consisted of two tasks. The first task investigated how and why Bergen County's Korean households are spatially dispersed based on 1980, 1990, and 2000 aggregate Census data and 1990 and 2000 Public-Use Microdata Sample Data. The second task examined why and to what extent Korean households in the suburbs are linked to ethnic centers. This information was collected from a telephone survey of Korean households in Bergen County in 2004.

Oh, Sookhee. Suburban Immigrant Koreans in Bergen County, New Jersey, 2004. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2009-07-01.

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National Science Foundation (0503081)


Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

The main sample consists of telephone interviews.

The survey sample of Korean households was randomly drawn from a local telephone list based on "the surname Kim sample technique" (Shin and Yu 1984; Min 2001a). Kim is a unique surname in that it is used only by Koreans. About 22 percent of Korean Americans have the surname Kim and they represent a cross-section of Korean households across socioeconomic strata and regions of the United States. In addition, this sampling method is reliable. Approximately 99 percent of Korean households in the United States have a telephone and the telephone listing rate for Korean Americans is extremely high (Shin and Yu 1984; PUMS 2000).

The expected final sample size was 240, and it was drawn based on a 95 percent confidence level based on approximately 11,098 Korean households in Bergen County (Salant and Dillman 1994:55; Census 2000 Summary File 4).

Korean Households in Bergen County, New Jersey.

survey data

According to Standard Definitions for Final Dispositions of Case Codes and Outcome Rates for Surveys by American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) (2004), the response rate of the survey was 35.8 percent and the refusal rate was 42 percent.


2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Oh, Sookhee . Suburban Immigrant Koreans in Bergen County, New Jersey, 2004. ICPSR23545-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2009-07-01.

2009-07-01 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

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