Ivan Light

Professor Emeritus


Contact Information

Email    light@soc.ucla.edu
Office  A83 Haines Hall
Phone  310-825-4229
Ivan Light is professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

He is the author of numerous articles and of six books on immigration, entrepreneurs, and urban sociology. His earliest book is Ethnic Enterprise in America (University of California, 1972). The next book,Cities in World Perspective (Macmillan, 1983) is a comparative and historical treatment of urban societies around the world. His next two books were Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Koreans in Los Angeles (University of California, 1988; in collaboration with Edna Bonacich), and Immigration and Entrepreneurship (Transactions Publishers, 1993; in collaboration with Parminder Bhachu). There followed Race, Ethnicity and Entrepreneurship in Urban America (Aldine de Gruyter, 1995; in collaboration with Carolyn Rosenstein). Co-edited with Richard Isralowitz, is Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Immigrant Absorption in the United States and Israel (Avebury, 1997) brings together articles that compare Israel and the USA as immigrant-reception societies. In collaboration with Steven Gold, he published Ethnic Economies (Academic, 2000), which integrates the voluminous international literature on that topic. His latest book is Deflecting Immigration: Networks, Markets, and Regulation in Los Angeles (Russell Sage, 2006) 

Ivan Light's current research concerns the effects of state minimum wage levels upon each state's influx of Mexican immigrants between 1980 and 2000. Results already suggest that states that set their minimum wage level above the federal level saw subsequent declines in their expected share of Mexican influx, a result compatible with the hypothesis. 

Ivan Light received a bachelor's degree in history from Harvard University (1963) and a doctor's degree in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley (1969). He resides in Claremont, California. His hobbies are watercolor landscape painting and hiking. 

Present position: Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of California at Los Angeles.


Ph. D., University of California, Berkeley


“Thomas and Znaniecki Book Prize,” for Deflecting Immigration from International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association 

“Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship” Award of the Pacific Sociological Association 

Fellow, Hansewissenschaftskolleg, Bremen Germany 

President of the International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association, 2001-02. 

"Distinguished Career" Award of the International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association, August 

1995 - 1997 
Immigration Research Awards from Center for German and European Studies at the University of California at Berkeley 

1995 - 1998 
Member of Council, International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association 

Consulting Editor: International Migration Review, 1994 to 1996; Social Forces, 1990 to 1993; American Journal of Sociology 1983 to 1985, 1996 to 1998; Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, 1997 to 2002; Ethnic and Racial Studies 2001 to 2003


Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, $11,600 research grant for “State Minimum Wages And Immigrant Deflection.” 2008-2009 

Israel/USA Binational Science Foundation Research Award, 1992 to 1995 (with Dr. Eran Razin, Hebrew University) 

Principal Investigator on three separate research awards from the Sociology Division of the National Science Foundation: 1975 to 1978, 1985 to 1986, 1987 to 1989

Selected Publications

“Two Forms of Community Entrepreneurship in Finland: Are there Differences between Finnish and Sámi Reindeer Husbandry Entrepreneurs?” Entrepreneurship and Regional Development 23 (2011): 331-352. (with Léo-Paul Dana)

“Deflecting Immigration from Los Angeles: Solving Urban Problems by Sending Them Elsewhere.” In Problemas Sociales Urbanos: La Ciudad en el Mundo Actual, edited by Enrique del Acebo Ibáñez and Helgi GunnlaugssonBuenos Aires: Editorial Claridad, 2011. (Translated into Spanish).

“Federal/State Cost Sharing of Immigrant Welfare.” CaliforniaJournal of Politics and Policy (2010): vol. 2, no. 1, Article 19. Available: http://www.bepress.com/cjpp/vol2/iss1/19

“Foreword.” Pp. ix – xvi in Transnational and Immigrant Entrepreneurship in a Globalized World, edited by Benson Honig, Israel Drori, and Barbara Carmichael. Toronto: University of Toronto, 2010.

“Transnational Entrepreneurs in an English-Speaking World.” Die Erde 141 nos. 1-2 (2010): 1 – 16.

“The Religious Ethic of the Protestant Ethnics.” Pps. 168 - 183 in Religion and Entrepreneurship, edited by Leo-Paul Dana. Chelternham UK: Edward Elgar, 2010

“Metropolitan Dispersion of Mexican Immigrants in the United States, 1980 to 2000.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies  35 (January, 2009): 1- 13 (with Michael Francis Johnston)

“The Geographic Expansion of Mexican Immigration in the United States and its Implications for Local Law Enforcement.” Law Enforcement Executive Forum 8 no. 1 (2008): 73 – 83 (with Matthew A. Light) 

“Coming Soon to Your Community: Why Mexican Immigrants Now Seek the American Heartland.” Applied Research in Economic Development 5 (May, 2008): 15-22. 

“Global Entrepreneurship and Transnationalism.” Pp. 3 – 15 in Handbook of Research on Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship, edited by Leo-Paul Dana. Cheltenham UK: Edward Elgar, 2007 

Ivan Light and Elsa von Scheven, “Mexican Migration Networks in the United States, 1980 – 2000.” International Migration Review 42, no. 3 (Fall, 2008): 704-728. http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/soc/faculty/Light/MexMigNetworks.pdf

“The Informal Economy Buffer, Migration Chains, and Poverty Intolerance.” City and Community 6:3 (September, 2007): 245-248. 

“Defending Deflection.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 30 no. 6 (November, 2007): 1162-1166 

“Women’s Economic Niches and Earnings Inferiority: The View from the Ethnic Economy.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 33 (May, 2007): 541-557. 

“Globalization, Transnationalism, and Chinese Transnationalism.” Pp. 89-98 in Chinese Ethnic Business: Global and Local Perspectives, edited by Eric Fong and Chiu Luk. London: Routledge, 2007. 

Deflecting Migration: Networks, Markets and Regulation in Los Angeles. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006. 

o “Symposium on Deflecting Immigration . . . by Ivan Light.” City and Community 6 (September, 2007): 237 – 248 

o “Review Symposium” Ethnic and Racial Studies 30 (Nov. 2007): 1152-1166 

“Immigration and Ethnic Economies in Giant Cities.” International Social Science Journal 181(2004): 385-398 

Translated into French: “Immigration et Économie Ethnique dans les Villes Géants.” Revue Internationale des Sciences Sociales 181 (2004) 431-446 

Ivan Light, Min Zhou, and Rebecca Kim. "Transnationalism and American Exports in an English-Speaking World." International Migration Review 36 (2002): 702-725 

"Immigrant place entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, 1970-1999." International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 26 (2002): 215-228. 

"Globalizacion, cadenas de vacantes o redes de migracion?" Pp. 113-140 in La Globalizacion y sus Manifestaciones en America del Norte, edited by M. Gambrill. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autonoma, 2002. 

Ivan Light and Victoria Ojeda. "Los Angeles: Wearing Out Their Welcome." Pp. 151-168 in Unravelling the Rag Trade, edited by J. Rath. Oxford: Berg, 2002. 

"The Chicago School and the Ethnic Economy." Pp. 173-182 in Mirrors and Windows, edited by J. Mucha, D. Kessler, and W. Winclawski. Torun: Copernicus University 

Ivan Light, Richard Bernard, and Rebecca Kim. "The Immigrant Economy in the Garment Industry of Los Angeles." International Migration Review 33 (1999): 5-25 

“Social Capital’s Unique Accessibility,” Journal of the American Planning Association, special section on social capital, edited by Judy Hutchinson. 2003. 

“Social Capital for What?” In Community-Based Organizations in Contemporary Urban Society, edited by Robert Silverman. Detroit: Wayne State University, forthcoming 2003. 

“The Ethnic Ownership Economy.” Pp. 3-44 in Ethnic Entrepreneurship: Structure and Process, edited by Curt H. Stiles, and Craig S. Galbraith. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2003. 

“Immigrant Neighborhoods as Centers of Commerce.” Pp. 112-128 in Immigrant Workers and Entrepreneurs, vol. 2, edited by Jim Lewis. Illinois: Illinois Department of Human Services, 2003. 

“Social Sources of Iranian Immigrant Entrepreneurship.” Realidad: Revista del Cono Sur de Psicologia Social y Politica 1 (2001): 129-144 

Ivan Light, “The Ethnic Economy.” Ch. 16 in Handbook of Economic Sociology, 2nd edition, edited by Neil Smelser and Richard Swedberg. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2004. 

o Translated into Spanish: “Economias Étnicas.” Pp. 41-68 in Empresariado Étnico en Espaòa, ed. Joaquín Beltran, Laura Oso, and Natalia Ribas. Madrid: Ministerio de Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales y Fundació CIDOB, 2007. 

Ivan Light and Elizabeth Roach, "Self-Employment in Southern California, 1970 to 1990." In Ethnic Los Angeles, edited by Roger Waldinger and Mehdi Bozorgmehr. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1996. 

"Nationalism and Anti-Immigrant Movements." Society 33(2), 1996: 58-63. 

Ivan Light and Stavros Karageorgis. "The Ethnic Economy." Ch. 26 in Handbook of Economic Sociology, edited by Neil Smelser and Richard Swedberg. NY: Russell Sage Foundation, 1994. 

Ivan Light and Steven Gold. Ethnic Economies. San Diego: Academic Press, 2000http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/soc/faculty/Light/Ethniceconomies.pdf

"The Ethnic Vice District, 1880-1944." American Sociological Review 42 (1977):464-479.http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/soc/faculty/Light/EthnicViceIndustry.pdf

Black/Korean conflict in Los Angeles

Self-Employment: Mobility Ladder or Economic Lifeboat ?

Minimum Wage & Mex Influx

Boundaries of Social Capital in Entrepreneurship

Immigrant and Ethnic Enterprise in North America

Disadvantaged Minorities in Self-Employment

Social Capital's Unique Accessibility

Ethnic Enterprise in America

The Migration Industry in the United States, 1880-1924

Women's Economic Niches: The View from the Ethnic Economy

Iranian immigrants in import.export industry of Los Angeles

Ivan Light and Leo-Paul Dana, Entrepreneurs and Capitalism since Luther (Lanham MD: Lexington, 2020). 

Graduate Students

 Jock Collins. 1998. "Cosmopolitan Capitalism: Ethnicity, Gender and Australian Entrepreneurs." vols 1 and 2, PhD diss., University of Wollongong. 

Nonja Peters. 1999. "Trading Places: Greek, Italian, Dutch and Vietnamese Immigrants in Western Australia." Ph.D. diss. University of Western Australia. 

Frances Chik. 2000 "Hong Kong Chinese Immigrant Women Entrepreneurs in Richmond, British Columbia: The Intersection of Race, Ethnicity, Class, Gender and Migration." Sociology, Ph.D. diss., University of British Columbia 

Geck Bee Yeo. 2003. “Embedded Intersections of Immigrant Female Entrepreneurship: A Study of Asian-Born Women Entrepreneurs in Sydney.” University of Technology, Sydney 

Elizabeth Roach, 2006. "Colombian Immigrants in New York City and Los Angeles." University of California, Los Angeles [Chair] 

Andrea Ryan. 2007. “Not My Brother’s Keeper: Ethnic Individualism, Civic Capitalism, and the Reinvention of Community in an Old Mill City.” Department of Sociology, Boston University