Report Reveals Rising Diversity in Greater Boston

Diverse strollers on Boston Common. Photo by John Lin

A recent report that highlights the significant influx of minority populations in Greater Boston is prompting various organizations to call for more inclusion of these diverse groups.

Known as “Changing Faces in Greater Boston”, the project was a collaboration between Boston Indicators, a research center at the Boston Foundation and the University of Massachusetts, Boston. It showed that all Greater Boston suburbs, which have been predominantly white, show  up to 48 percent increases in minority populations from 1990 to 2017. Boston, which has a diverse population, also saw a 14.1 percent increase.

Despite the increasing presence of nonwhite populations, their representation in politics and education have remained low, according to the new report. 

“One of the key challenges … is working to better understand and to better support and empower these immigrant communities to build their lives and to support their families,” said Trevor Mattos, the research manager of the Boston Foundation and one of the authors of the report.

In addition to examining the political and social disparities that these minorities face, the team examined the vast socioeconomic diversity within a single racial group. In the Asian group, the difference between the median incomes of Indians and those of Pakistani origin was almost $70,000. Similarly, in the Latino group, the difference between the wealthiest and the poorest ethnic group was over $40,000.

“As a matter of public policy, we have to first have data that is disaggregated to reflect [the diversity within a racial group]. Averages hide a lot of the diversity that occurs [in a racial group],” said Paul Wantanabe, director of the Institute for Asian American Studies and a co-author of the publication.

The report further suggests  opportunities for municipalities to incorporate minorities into political activities. 

In Malden, the nonwhite population has increased from 12 percent to 53 percent. The report found that the city’s economic inequality is reflected through its rising house prices which are rising  66 percent faster than the average rate in the Greater Boston area. 

Upon the release of the report, the city is making strides to ensure that minorities’ voices are heard.

Mattos said Malden’s plan is “to bring [people] of color into community-based organizations to serve on their board of directors as a means to bring their grassroots experience to the table … and have more of an inroad to institutions of power.” He also said that similar actions are currently being implemented in the New Bedford area. 

Moving forward, Mattos and his team plan to further investigate the demographics within multicultural populations in Greater Boston. In addition, Mattos hopes to look beyond the data points by “talking to actual individuals that are experiencing [these disparities] firsthand.”

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