Chinese-American banking and community development in Los Angeles county

Wei Li, Gary Dymski, Yu Zhou, Maria Chee, Carolyn Aldana

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Given the rapid increase of immigrant populations and ethnic communities in the U.S., it is surprising that so little attention has been paid to the role of ethnically owned banks in community development. Analyses of banking usually focus on developments such as mergers and consolidations within the mainstream financial sector. The academic literature on financial geography and the ethnic economy has established that the discriminatory and exclusionary practices of mainstream banks and other financial institutions play a significant role in impoverishing urban, low-income ghettos. Research on minority financial services largely focuses on the dynamics of informal financial establishments in ethnic neighborhoods. With the exception of research on African-American banks, there has been remarkably little scholarship on or even acknowledgement of ethnically owned formal financial institutions in minority communities. This article examines the parallel, co-respective growth of Chinese-American residents, businesses, and bank branches in Los Angeles, with special attention to spatial and temporal correlation. In particular, we explore the role of Chinese ethnic banks in altering commercial infrastructures and residential landscapes in Los Angeles County's Chinatown and the San Gabriel Valley ethnoburb area. This article is based on extensive quantitative data and on twenty-seven multilingual interviews conducted in 1999 with officers of Chinese-American banks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)777-796
Number of pages20
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • Banking
  • Chinese American
  • Ethnoburb
  • Los Angeles
  • Minority banks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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