Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Chairperson (Advisor 1)

Dr. Robert DeWerff

Reader (Advisor 2)

Dr. Kimora Kachelmyer


Throughout history, ethnic minorities have changed the way America conducts business. Research on ethnic diversity in U.S. cities has focused on how the growth of a particular population within a defined, and often segregated, geographic area fosters the emergence of an ethnically oriented business and labor market. While several studies have looked at ethnic economies in U.S. cities, comparatively little attention has been paid to how well these examples meet the definition of ethnic enclave economies, a special type of ethnic economy that may afford opportunities equal to that of the mainstream economy (Light,1994). In Saint Paul, Minnesota, refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand have established a set of businesses within a geographically specific section of the city. Data from the 2000 U.S. Census and a special data set that records businesses by location, type, and size for 1991 and 2000 are used to assess how well this emerging economy satisfies certain criteria for an ethnic enclave economy and to gauge the level of resources enjoyed by the Southeast Asian community. In this paper I conclude that the Southeast Asian ethnic economy in Saint Paul satisfies some aspects of the ethnic enclave economy and that this has been accomplished with a minimum of individual financial or educational resources. At the same time, the Southeast Asian economy has yet to develop the broad employment opportunities, sectoral diversity, and business-to-business linkages that would position it as a true alternative to the mainstream economy. This may change as the Southeast Asians in Saint Paul begin to deepen and broaden their economic niche.


Available when logged in with your CSP email address and password.

For users outside of the CSP community, use the "Request Access" button to submit a request for full text.