The Little Village Survey

Little Village

Little Village, a neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, is the largest Mexican community in the Midwestern United States. Previously a Czech immigrant neighborhood, the community experienced ethnic residential succession between 1970 and 2000. In 1970, Hispanics constituted only 33 percent of the neighborhood population, which numbered approximately 63,000 residents. During the next thirty years not only did the Hispanic population increase in absolute terms, but the Mexican share rose, making them the dominant group. According to Census 2000, 83 percent of Little Village's 91,000 residents are Hispanic. A steady influx of immigrants from Mexico, coupled with the exodus of the white population transmogrified the entire community into a bustling hub for commerce described by the Wall Street Journal (7 May 1997) as "surpassed in Chicago's business volume only by the Magnificent Mile."

The process of residential succession produced a critical mass of ethnic consumers, which created a crucial market precondition for the development of an ethnic economy. Although Mexican business owners predominate in Little Village, the local business sector is ethnically heterogeneous. The Little Village Surveys (described below) revealed that three in four Little Village establishment owners are of Hispanic origin, the majority of these Mexican immigrants. Koreans represent 12 percent, Middle-Eastern and other South-Asians (Indian and Pakistani) 5 percent, and non-Hispanic whites 7 percent of Little Village business owners.

The Little Village Survey (LVS)

The Little Village Survey consists of business and household surveys. Each is described briefly below and in the linked flow charts. We also have a list of publications.

The Business Survey

The business survey is based on a stratified random sample of establishments that were in operation during the spring of 1994. Canvassing of the neighborhood and local mall yielded approximately 1120 business establishments that were stratified according to primary type of industry, product, or service. Professional services, such as lawyers and medical services, were not sampled for theoretical reasons. Both the process and formal requirements for self-employment in medicine and law are sufficiently different from those related to small business formation. Thus, our sample represents all services EXCEPT legal and medical services.

Relatively uncommon businesses, such as bridal shops, bakeries, iron works product stores, and factories were sampled at a rate of 100 percent. Relatively abundant enterprises, like restaurants, bars, auto repair shops, and hair salons were sampled at a rate of 35 percent. All remaining establishments were sampled at a rate of 50 percent. The unequal sampling rates were imposed for cost considerations and to ensure adequate numbers of uncommon businesses. Weights inverse to the sampling ratio must be applied to represent the universe of business enterprises.

A total of 244 business interviews were completed, for a 70 percent response rate. Of these 162 were Mexican immigrant merchants and 28 were Korean immigrant owners. This is a highly successful response rate given that we insisted on interviewing owners and declined to conduct interviews with managers or other employees. If a business had multiple owners, only one was interviewed. The questionnaire solicited information about household and respondent characteristics and measured inputs for business start-up, including sources of capital, use of credit, family members' participation, employee and client attributes, characteristics of suppliers, ethnic composition of social networks, and organizational participation. The uniqueness of the instrument resides in items that reveal how ethnicity influences the creation and development of businesses through multiple social and economic domains. The flow chart describes the sampling design.

The Household Survey

The household survey began with a listing of the 300 blocks, from census tracts 3005-3020*, that constitute Little Village. Our boundaries for Little Village exclude census tracts 3001-3004 which are included in the South Lawndale Community Area because these tracts are separated from the tracts 3005-3020 by a major road and the residents of these tracts are predominantly African American. A 10 percent random sample yielded 30 blocks, consisting of approximately 2100 dwellings. After listing the addresses, we drew a random sample of dwellings. Of these, just over 325 households were interviewed, for a response rate of 73 percent of eligible households in the sample (450). The flow charts describe the sampling design.

Location of Data and Documentation

You can click here

for a file list for both the Business and Household surveys. Currently, data only for the Business survey is available; we are in the process of preparing the Household data for publication.

* Our boundaries for Little Village exclude census tracts 3001-3004 which are included in the South Lawndale Community Area.