The Boston Indicators Project offers new ways to understand Boston and its neighborhoods in a regional, national and global context. It aims to democratize access to information, foster informed public discourse, track progress on shared civic goals, and report on change in 10 sectors: Civic Vitality, Cultural Life and the Arts, the Economy, Education, the Environment, Health, Housing, Public Safety, Technology, and Transportation.
Transportation is the movement of cargo -- people, animals or material goods – from one place to another. Modes of transportation in contemporary life include walking, bicycling, cars, buses, trucks, aircraft, freight and passenger trains, subways, ships and boats.
Children mirror a community’s values, progress and challenges. If a community’s children are thriving, it is likely that the whole community is doing well. The Boston Indicators Project tracks progress through 2030—Boston’s 400th Anniversary - when many of today’s children and youth will be civic, political and business leaders and their children will be in school.
The Greater Boston region has a long history as a birthplace of revolution and innovation and is packed with firsts - the nation’s first public park and public library, breakthroughs in medicine and “green” building. With a newly revitalized waterfront and some of the nation’s - and the world’s - top colleges and universities, the region - with Boston at its core - attracts students from around the world and top-tier talent in all fields to its dynamic and diversified knowledge economy.
Sustainable development refers to patterns of growth that integrate environmental and human health, economic dynamism, and social cohesion and equity. Sustainable development is multi-dimensional by definition: biodiversity health; the availability of jobs at a living age; regional and per capita carbon dioxide emissions; the availability of fresh water and open spaces; etc. All of these factors increase the quality of life.
The Boston Indicators Project’s comprehensive Framework of indicators and measures reflects an intensive, participatory selection process that included hundreds of Bostonians and reviewed by thousands more. Beginning with positive goals for the future, these data-rich indicators and measures provide an objective way to assess current conditions, trends over time and patterns of relationships, as well as outcomes for specific groups, neighborhoods, the City of Boston and the Metro Boston region. The Complete Project Framework can also be re-sorted into crosscutting topics and civic agenda goals.
View the Complete Framework of Indicators
The 2012 Boston Indicators Report shows that standard top-level economic indicators don't tell us everything we need to know about the state of jobs and equity in our local and regional economy. We need to reinvent Boston's innovation economy through greater opportunity and shared prosperity.
The Boston Indicators Project produces biennial reports chronicling Boston's accomplishments and the full array of challenges facing the city and region. These reports build on expert and stakeholder convenings, data analysis, and reviews of recent research. Over the years, they have helped to catalyze an on-going set of conversations throughout the community about our region's economic competitiveness and the key challenges facing Boston.
The Measure of Poverty was released in September 2011. Findings show that the rates of poverty in Boston changed very little over the last twenty years, but is more deeply concentrated in single-parent families in particular neighborhoods. State and local budget cuts due to the recession may have long-term consequences in mitigating the effects of poverty. The Boston Indicators Project released another special report in 2008, Boston’s Education Pipeline: A Report Card, which provided a comprehensive view of the entire arc of Boston’s system of educational opportunities and outcomes, with an update in 2011.
The City of Boston is comprised of 16 Planning Districts and 26 neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity.
This portion of the site is coming soon. For facts and figures about Boston Neighborhoods see the Boston Neighborhood Topic Crosscut Page.
This portion of the site is coming soon. In the meantime check out the MetroBoston DataCommon for facts and figures about Massachusetts.
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The Greater Boston region has a long history as a birthplace of revolution and innovation and is packed with firsts ––the nation’s first public park and public library, breakthroughs in medicine and “green” building. With a newly revitalized waterfront and some of the nation’s—and the world’s—top colleges and universities, the region – with Boston at its core – attracts students from around the world and top-tier talent in all fields to its dynamic and diversified knowledge economy. And with a growing population of foreign-born residents and entrepreneurs, Boston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the nation. All of these factors contribute to Boston’s competitive edge. This cross-cut filter provides the opportunity to better understand Boston’s competitive edge as well as some of its key challenges, such as a high cost of living, in a national context. Seeing Boston in comparison with other regions and cities around the nation and sometimes around the world helps us to gauge challenge, progress and possibilities in the context of trends elsewhere.
Diversity augments cultural vitality, increases problem-solving capacity through new skills and perspectives, and strengthens global economic connections. But highly diverse communities often require community-building efforts to achieve a whole greater than the sum of the parts.
As of 2012, 53% of Bostonians were people of color compared to just 32% of the population in 1980. Citywide, 25% of Bostonians were African American, 17% Latino, and 9% Asian Pacific Islander. The neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan are home to the highest concentration of African Americans in both Boston and Massachusetts while the city’s Latino population mostly resides in East Boston and parts of Jamaica Plain. Boston’s Asian population is largely concentrated into the small neighborhood of Chinatown as well as the Fields Corner neighborhood of Dorchester
The term “foreign-born” refers to people born in places outside the United States. These individuals do not acquire citizenship at birth and are “naturalized citizens” when they do. According to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the city’s foreign-born population in Boston approximately contributes $4.6 billion in annual spending, $1 billion in state and federal taxes, and about 52,230 direct jobs for the local economy.
As of 2012, more than 26% of Bostonians were foreign-born, around the same as it was in 2000 but up from 20% in 1990. The greatest number of immigrants in Boston live in the neighborhoods of Chinatown, East Boston, and parts of Dorchester and Mattapan where foreign-born residents range from 40% to almost 70%.
Statewide, 15% of residents were foreign-born with the highest concentrations in Chelsea (45%), Malden (41%), Lawrence (37%), Everett (39%) and Revere (32%).
In 2012 Irish remained the largest single ancestry reported by Bostonians with more than 70,000 identifying as Irish followed by about 40,000 identifying as Italian and more than 36,000 identifying as West Indian, of which more than 21,000 were Haitian. An additional 19,000 identify as English, 15,000 as German and about 22,000 as Sub-Saharan African of which more than 10,000 are Cape Verdean.
Middlesex County in Greater Boston has the most creative businesses with more than 5,600 employing roughly 24,000 followed by Suffolk county—which includes Boston—that has more than 2,600 creative businesses employing almost 22,000.
The nonprofit cultural sector also contributes to the state’s economy. According to the New England Foundation for the Arts, total direct and indirect employment stemming from nonprofit arts organizations was 42,378 with a total economic impact of $4.765 billion as of 2009.
Increasing and retaining a pool of young knowledge workers - the growth tip of the region’s economy - is critical to the city and to the region’s future. For decades, Metro Boston has relied on the ready pool of highly-skilled young adults turned out each year by colleges and universities in the area. Current challenges - including labor force growth due principally to immigration of lower skilled workers and persistent racial and ethnic disparities in education outcomes - may require more balanced strategies to grow the pool of knowledge workers.
Metro Boston ranks 4th among the nation’s largest metro’s in the percent of adults 25 years or older with a BA or higher at 43%, behind DC, San Jose and San Francisco. However, Boston ranks 1st in the percent of highly educated young workers with 54% of 25-34 year olds holding a BA or Higher. The metro is anchored by Boston’s high educational attainment where 62% of 25 to 34 year old hold a BA or higher, topping all other large US cities.
Patents per capita is a widely used measure of technological capacity and innovation and a predictor of economic dynamism. The number of patents generated in a community indicates the capacity for creative thinking and research activity, the commitment to support innovation, and the potential for the development of new commercial products and services.
Metro Boston ranked fourth globally in patent filings, accounting for 7.2% of all patents filed in the US and 2.5% of all patents filed worldwide, according to 2008 statistics from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Metro Boston ranked second globally—behind only San Francisco—in biotech patents. The number of patents awarded in Massachusetts rose by 10% between 2012 and 2013.
The funding that Massachusetts’ and Metro Boston’s research institutions and universities attracts reflects the region's international reputation as fertile ground for innovation. Local research and development activities support breakthrough thinking, the development of new technologies, and the emergence of dynamic economic sectors. The combination of funding for research and development (R&D) and local access to venture capital (VC) supports entrepreneurs' conversion of ideas and pilot projects into economic activity and prosperity.
R&D: Massachusetts ranked 6th in total funding for Research & Development with nearly $2.5 million and 3rd in per capita R&D funding with $373 per capita as of FY09, the most recent year for which data are available. More than half of the funding, $1.8 million, came from the federal government ranking 3rd in total federal funds. Massachusetts ranked 6th in total funding from industry but only 37th in R&D funding provided by the state.
Venture Capital: As of Q1 2012, the New England Region had the second largest VC investment value in the nation, at $678 million and nearly 12% of the nation’s total. In 2011, Massachusetts per capita VC as $455, the highest of all leading technology states, despite falling from $491 per capita in 2006 according to the Mass Tech Collaborative.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only continuing national assessment of student achievement in core subjects such as mathematics, reading and writing. As the Nation’s Report Card, NAEP scores are the common metric for all 50 states and 18 Trial Urban District Areas to compare and track student progress and achievement over time.
In 2011, Massachusetts ranked first in the nation in reading and math for both fourth and eighth graders for the fourth consecutive testing year, but with stark and persistent achievement gaps by race/ethnicity and income.
Obesity is a major contributing risk factor for high-cost, preventable chronic diseases such as Type II Diabetes and Hypertension, the costs of which are projected to triple over the next two decades.
The cost of health care has become a top economic pressure facing families and private employers as well as local, state and federal governments and is replacing access to insurance as the number one barrier to receiving care.
For Boston to sustain its competitive edge as a thriving high-tech center that can grow, attract and retain knowledge workers, it must be able to offer a range of housing choices and prices.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indicec are the leading measures for the US residential housing market, tracking changes in the value of residential real estate both nationally as well as in 20 metropolitan regions
As of May 2012 Metro Boston's home prices had risen for the sixth consecutive month and were 3.3% higher than the market bottom in March of 2009. However, prices have not fully recovered to where they were prior to the recession and remain 17% lower than the peak in September 2005.
Among the 20 Metro Regions tracked by the Case Schiller Home Price Index, Boston had the third most stable home prices losing 20% of value from peak to trough, behind Dallas where values declined by 11% and Denver where values declined by 14%. In comparison, Las Vegas and Phoenix home values declined by 62% and 56% respectively between market peak and bottom.
However, Boston has not recovered as quickly as other Metros. From market bottom through May 2012 home prices increased by 3.3%, the fourth lowest of the 20 regions. By comparison, values in San Francisco and Washington DC have increased by 15% and 12% respectively from the market bottom to present.
Metro Boston ranked fourth globally in patent filings, accounting for 7.2% of all patents filed in the US and 2.5% of all patents filed worldwide, according to 2008 statistics from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Metro Boston ranked second globally—behind only San Francisco—in biotech patents. According to the Mass Tech Collaborative, the number of patents awarded in Massachusetts rose by 33% between 2009 and 2010 and the state ranked first among all leading technology states in patents issued at 931 per million residents, up from 622 in 2006. The next highest state was New York with 749 patents per million.
Ten percent of all Massachusetts establishments were in the High Tech cluster, ranking 7th among all states and DC in 2008, according to the National Science Foundation. Additionally, 15% of total employment was in the High Tech cluster ranking Massachusetts tied for 2nd with Washington state and New Jersey.
Nearly two-thirds of the degrees awarded were in the STEM fields with 601 degrees in Life Sciences, 478 degrees in Physical Sciences and 454 Engineering doctorate degrees awarded. Massachusetts ranked in the top five of all states in the number of science and engineering degrees awarded.
The port of Boston ranked 33 among all North American ports in 2011 in total container traffic with 192,705 tanker containers processed, up from 168,285 in 2010. The port of Boston ranked 6th in volume growth among all North American ports.
“Staying Power II” report card finds the Massachusetts manufacturing sector has stabilized and could rebound.
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Introducing our new Blog, Shaping the Future, where we hope to engage in dialogue about where we hope to be and see ourselves, our neighborhoods, city and region in the year 2030