Thursday, December 30, 2004

Ethnic division outside Boston

Metropolitan Boston became more racially diverse in the 1990s, but the booming growth of minority residents in so-called satellite cities outside the urban core occurred largely along segregated lines:

The percentage of non-Latino white residents in metropolitan Boston declined from 87 percent in 1990 to 81 percent in 2000. The metropolitan area, as defined in the study, includes seven counties and stretches from Buzzards Bay in the south to the New Hampshire border in the north and to the western boundary of Worcester County.

Nonwhites and Latinos are moving to satellite cities in large and disproportionate numbers. While 15 percent of the region lived in satellite cities in 2000, for example, 34 percent of the area's Latinos resided there. The study listed the satellite cities as Attleboro, Brockton, Fall River, Fitchburg, Gloucester, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, New Bedford, and Worcester.

At 81 percent, the area's non-Latino white population is much larger than in comparable areas nationwide. Across the United States, non-Latino whites comprise 66 percent of the metropolitan regions.

The region's nonwhite and Latino communities are extremely diverse, with roughly equal numbers of blacks, Asians, and Latinos. Each group has a robust degree of ethnic diversity. About 26 percent of the black population, for example, is foreign-born. Nationwide, the figure is 6 percent.

Greater Boston's 6 percent population growth in the 1990s was due solely to the growth in nonwhite and Latino residents.

Suburban whites choose to live away from non-whites:

Whites in the suburbs apparently have little exposure to nonwhite and Latino neighbors. In 2000, the average suburban block in metropolitan Boston was 93 percent white.

Even whites in the urban core -- defined as Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, Malden, Somerville, and Waltham -- lived on blocks that averaged 75 percent white.

And this has affected other groups:

Although Asians make up 5 percent of the population in the peripheral cities, the average Asian in those communities lives on a block that is 25 percent Asian. For Latinos, who make up 15 percent of the satellite cities, the average Latino lived on a block that was 46 percent Latino.

In those cities, many blocks where whites had disproportionate representation in 1990 raised their share of white residents by 2000.

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