#ReadUrbanandPlanningWomen2014 entry #19 Katrin Anacker

Today I am going to write about Katrin Anacker at George Mason, whose home page can be found here. I first met Katrin when she was a post-doc at Virginia Tech’s Metropolitan Institute, and it was clear even then that she is, simply, one of the brightest folks working in planning right now. It’s hard to chose to something to highlight, as she has a long cv already, and she contributes interesting things to both queer urbanism and housing, but I always think her contributions regarding spatial change and suburbia are the most useful to a general urban audience.


Anacker, K. B. (2013). Immigrating, assimilating, cashing in? Analyzing property values in suburbs of immigrant gateways. Housing Studies, 28(5), 720-745. doi:10.1080/02673037.2013.75824

This paper looks at whether suburban home values are holding for immigrant owners in American suburbs. Home-ownership, as I have noted many, many times here, is a means of wealth-building, particularly in the United States, and one of the big questions, following the housing bust, is whether that will continue to be true. Plenty of suburban homeowners got soaked, and Anacker here examines where immigrant with language barriers are locating. This an in-depth analysis that poses three questions using commonly used typology in the literature that breaks immigrant gateways into different types, ranging by whether the gateway was historically important, continues to be, or seems to be becoming a gateway ((1) former gateways, (2) continuous gateways, (3) Post-World War II gateways, (4) emerging gateways, (5) re-emerging gateways, and (6) pre-emerging gateways). Anacker uses American Community Housing data to ask:

  1. Are there differences in the median values of owner-occupied housing units?
  2. Are there differences in the changes in the median values of owner-occupied housing units (2000 to 2005/2009)?
  3. Are there differences in the factors that influence the median values of owner-occupied housing units?

So first, it seems as though there are pretty different groups of immigrants flocking to gateways within the typology, and that falls along inner-city and suburban gateway locations. In general, though, values were higher in suburban gateways, and those gateways did retain their value from 2000 to 2009, despite the downturn. Part of this reflects the comparative success of gateways on the coasts and coastal markets.

For the second-order question regarding changes in value, Anacker finds that pre-emerging gateways tend to have lower values, which she attributes to their location in regional south and southwest rather than coastal markets. It also seems to me that emerging gateways are likely to serve people who may not be entering into housing markets via family connections of established immigrants, as would likely happen less in places that were already established gateways. The lower prices would also be helpful to new arrivals.

The last question finds that median values really depend on the type of gateway, with:

Re-emerging, emerging, continuous, and Post-World War II immigrant gateways had a positive coefficient, indicating their locations in metropolitan areas that are characterized by overall economic success (e.g., Washington, DC, Portland, Seattle, Boston, and Los Angeles). Former immigrant gateways had a negative coefficient, confirming their location in the Rust Belt, with its falling incomes, high unemployment, and the decreasing importance of manufacturing (e.g., Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit).

p. 732 in the original.

There is some nice modeling work here in the analysis, and takeaway is that whether immigrants are building wealth via suburban homeownership really depends on what you mean by suburb–which suburbs, which immigrants.

According to her cv, she is also working on edited volume due out here in 2015: Anacker, Katrin B., ed. (2015). The New American Suburb: Poverty, Race, and the Economic Crisis. Farnham: Ashgate, so that’s to be looked forward to.