Using U.S. Census data from 1950 to 2000, this paper provides a framework to compare the responses of immigrant and native population growth to the economic incentives offered by rural counties in the Midwest and the South. We find that in marked contrast to urban immigrant populations, rural immigrants do not congregate in ethnic enclaves. Larger rural populations of immigrants do not attract more immigrants, nor do they retard growth of the young native born population. Immigrant populations are more responsive than native populations to economic incentives. The native-born population tends to respond more to growth in specific industries, while immigrant populations are more responsive to overall employment growth. Rural immigrant population growth is not positively influenced by levels of local welfare or other public services. Compared to earlier immigrant groups, more recent waves of immigrants are influenced more by the number of jobs than by income levels in deciding where to live.


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