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.
What are the best ways to solve the pressing challenges of our city, region, country and planet? The Hub of Innovation profiles a set of breakthrough solutions from the region, nation and world.
Nominate a breakthrough!
Issues of race and ethnicity - in Boston and elsewhere - generally emerge on two fronts: one is the cultural richness that racial and ethnic diversity contribute to a city and region; the other is persistent disparities in education, health and economic status. People of color have often faced inequitably high hurdles to educational and economic advancement. While Boston and Massachusetts have often been at the forefront in passing laws and organizing movements to promote racial justice, these measures have not erased the impact of centuries of economic and legal disadvantage. Tracking both cultural richness and racial/ethnic disparities offers a yardstick by which to measure progress in achieving racial justice. This cross-cut filter is designed to track disparities as well as to build upon racial/ethnic diversity as a core competitive advantage and contributor to the region’s cultural and economic vitality.
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.
Diversity in businesses' leadership ensures that the best strategies for growth in an increasingly competitive global economy can be developed and executed. Businesses also make many important contributions to community life. As with all other sectors, diversity of leadership in the for-profit arena increases civic vitality and equality. Prominent examples of representative leadership among Boston’s top businesses help to break the glass ceiling and open opportunities for future leaders.
According to the Boston Club, among the 100 largest companies in Massachusetts in 2013: women comprised 12.7% of board members, a decrease from 13.8% the year before; 29% had no women board members; and, 21% had no women board members or executives.
The Commonwealth Compact is an initiative of Massachusetts’ civic and business community that aims to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of leadership and the workforce at all levels. As of the most recent Commonwealth Compact Benchmarks Report, in 2011, 74% of the employees at the 105 organizations voluntarily submitting data were white, 11% were Black, 6% were Hispanic and 7% were Asian. In the same year, 15% of Whites held senior or middle management positions compared with 7% of people of color and 12% of whites were service workers as compared to 25% of people of color. Not-for-profit organizations reported the largest share of employees of color: 31%, followed by health: 29%, government and education: both 24% and the for-profit companies at 15%.
Racial and gender diversity in elected leadership is a key measure of the value of diverse voices in civic life and breadth of a community’s political decision-making capacity. If all leaders are of a single color, ethnicity, linguistic group, gender, age, level of physical ability, or sexual orientation, it is highly unlikely that a community will succeed in recruiting talented individuals and, instead, will draw on too narrow a range of experience to be truly effective.
Boston: In 2009, the first woman of color, Ayanna Pressley, was elected at-large to the Boston City Council; a position that has been held by just two African Americans, one Latino and one Asian American in the 100 year history of the City Council. With two vacant at-large positions, the 2009 election drew the largest and most diverse candidate pool in recent years with 15 total candidates, up from 9 in 2007, of whom six were African American, two Latino and one Vietnamese-American candidate. Among Boston's appointed government officials, the 2007 Benchmark Report on Diversity in State & Local Government by the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy found that 27.8% were African American, 11.5% Latino and 6.6% Asian. Boston excelled in demographic representation compared to all other municipalities with a high percentage of people of color, with only Chelsea exceeding Boston. This report has not been updated since 2012.
The number of hate crimes reported speaks to both the level of safety in a community and level of acceptance of diverse neighbors and community members. The Boston Police Department’s Community Disorders Unit classifies a “hate crime” as a simple assault, destruction of property, threats, and harassment with racial epithets. In analyzing hate crime data, it is important to understand that heightened awareness (and therefore more frequent reporting and investigation) of such crimes may account for an apparent rise.
The Boston Police Department's Community Disorders Unit investigated 180 incidents classified as hate crimes in 2009--the most recent year for which data are available--down from 229 in 2005 but up slightly from 177 in 2008. The majority of incidents, 36, were racial harassment and epithets, up from 15 incidents in 2006 and crimes against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) individuals at 36 down from 51 in 2007.
The majority of hate crime victims were African American, with 64 incidents up from 33 in 2006, followed by GLBT at 36 and white victims at 31. The lowest number of crimes was instigated against Asians with just 6 incidents.
The majority of incidents, 89, were perpetrated by a white individual followed by 49 incidents perpetrated by an African American individual and 35 in which the perpetrator's race/ethnicity was unknown.
Although a majority of Boston’s residents are people of color, Greater Boston and Massachusetts are still predominantly white. And while increased diversity can add great cultural vibrancy and vitality to a region, persistent residential segregation and can lead to isolation and ultimately drive people away from Metro Boston.
Boston and the region remain largely segregated along lines of race and ethnicity, despite growing diversity. People of color and newcomer immigrants are highly concentrated in Greater Boston’s “gateway” cities.
Within Boston, the neighborhoods of Back Bay, Beacon Hill, the North End, South End and West Roxbury remained more than 60% white in 2010. By contrast, people of color comprise more than 80% of the population in areas of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and East Boston.
As of 2010, cities & towns with the highest percentage of African American residents were: Randolph at 377; Brockton at 30%, Boston at 22%, and Springfield at 19.5%. Since 2000, the greatest increase in African American residents has been in Randolph, +16.5%, Brockton, +13% and Everett, +7.5%.
Quincy had the highest concentration of Asians at 24% followed by Lowell and Malden with 20% and Lexington with 19.8%. The greatest increase in Asian population was in the suburbs of Boston.
In 2010, Lawrence had the highest concentration of Latinos at 74%, followed by Chelsea, 62%, and Holyoke 48%. The Latino population is growing the fastest in Revere, +15%, Lawrence +14% and Lynn +13.7%
In 2008, while the number of annual SBA loans was down by 85 from 333 in 2003, the average gross loan was more than $229,000, up from about $67,000. Since 2003, the Small Business Administration had made more than 1,500 loans to businesses in Boston totaling more than $150 million. Since 2003, 35% of SBA investment has been to small businesses in the Back Bay, South End and Central Boston, and in 2008 alone, nearly half were directed to businesses in these neighborhoods. The next highest concentration was in the student-dominated neighborhoods of Allston/Brighton and Fenway, which received 19% of SBA loans since 2003. The Boston neighborhoods most dense with families, children and people of color—Roxbury, Mission Hill, Dorchester and Mattapan— received 18% of all SBA loans since 2003, with 8% in 2008, down from 22% in 2006.
Linguistic access not only increases connectedness within a community, but serves as a key in providing basic and fundamental human services such as health care. While state law requires all acute psychiatric services and medical emergency rooms to provide interpreter services, the number of immediately available interpreters of diverse languages indicates the level of cultural and linguistic inclusion within a community.
As of 2010, 35.5% of Bostonians spoke a language other than English in the home; 15% of the population over age 5 speaks Spanish or Spanish Creole, 12% speak other Indo-European languages, 7% speak and Asian/Pacific Island Language and 2% some other language.
Among those who speak a language other than English in the household, more than 33% are linguistically isolated—equal to more than 11% of all households in Boston.
The Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians continues to offer an interpreter pool at City Hall drawn from the staff of city departments to assist with licenses, permits, tax information, and consumer concerns. Translation in 24 languages is available, including Spanish, Chinese, French, Haitian, Cape Verdean, and Vietnamese.
Boston maintains a strong community-based newspaper system with more than 70 special interest services. Of those, 24 are ethnic papers making the news available in just as many languages; 28 are neighborhood papers that keep residents up-to-date on the issues pertinent to the community. Boston also has many free entertainment news magazines and special interest bulletins to keep people connected. Click here for a complete list of Boston community newspapers from Boston Online or click here for the complete New England Media Directory provided by the Ethnic Media Project at UMass-Boston.
Measuring demographically representative leadership in Boston’s major cultural institutions enables us to assess their openness to new leadership and ideas; their responsiveness to new populations and audiences; avenues for the expression of Boston’s increasingly rich cultural heritage; and the capacity of diverse constituencies to influence the cultural landscape of the city. Leaders recruited from diverse sectors of Boston can help to grow and attract new audiences, enrich Boston’s cultural menu with both traditional expressions of culture and new hybrid forms of expression, and broaden participation in the arts. Representative leadership also ensures that dynamic and talented young people, such as those who attend the city’s visual and performing arts colleges, will not be lost to other, more welcoming cities.
In 2010, Boston’s per capita income was nearly $34,000 but with stark racial ethnic disparities. The per capita income for white, non-Latino Bostonians was over $45,000 compared to about $29,000 among Asians, $19,000 among African Americans and $15,000 among Latinos. Overall, Boston’s per capita income increased by about 11% between 2000 and 2010, when adjusted for inflation.
Similar disparities exist across households where the median household income for white non-Latino Bostonians in 2010 was over $62,000 compared to $38,000 among Asian households, $35,000 among African American households and just over $23,000 among Latino households.
Deep disparities in employment persist along lines of educational attainment in Boston as elsewhere. Averaged between 2006-2010, the unemployment rate for Bostonians between the ages of 25 and 64 without a High School diploma was over 12%. For those with a High School Diploma the unemployment rate was 12%, and for those with some college education 11% were unemployed. By comparison, among Bostonains with a Bachelor's Degree or Higher the unemployment rate was about 4%.
Furthermore, labor force participation increases with educational attainment. Roughly 35% of those without a High School diploma were not in the labor force as well as 25% of those with a High School diploma, 19% of those with some college and 12% of those with a Bachelor's Degree or higher. Working-age adults who are not active in the labor force are not counted in official unemployment rates.
National studies have shown that a diverse and culturally responsive team of teachers can positively impact student achievement, particularly among students of color. A teacher corps that reflects the racial/ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity of Boston’s children is an important ingredient in creating a welcoming and inclusive school environment in which all students can learn.
Race/Ethnicity: In SY2011-12, 87% of BPS students were of color compared to 38% of all BPS teachers. By race/ethnicity: 47% of students and 10% of teachers were Latino; 35% of students and 23% of teachers were African American; 8% of students and 5% of teachers were Asian; and13% of students were white compared to 62% of teachers.
Linguistic Diversity: BPS students come from 101 different countries and speak 77 different languages. While more than 44% of all students are English Language Learners, just 10% of the district’s teachers are specialized for ELL teaching.
Special Education: BPS is well-balanced in serving Students with Disabilities. About 20% of BPS students have a special cognitive, learning, behavioral or physical need and about 20% of all teachers are licensed in Special Education.
Among Boston Public high school students in 2011 36% of Latino students were overweight or obese along with 34% of African American teens and 26% of white teens. According to the most recent data fro Asian teen, 16% were overweight or obese as of 2009.
Diabetes: As of 2010, 9% of African American adults had diabetes along with 7% of Latinos and 5% of white Bostonians. No data were available for the Asian population.
Heart Disease: The hospitalization rate for heart disease was 32.4 per 1,000 among Latinos and 28.9 per 1,000 among African Americans--nearly three times higher than whites at 13.8 per 1,000 and Asians at 10.3 per 1,000 according to the most recent data from 2008 and 2009.
Hypertension: Thirty-one percent of African American adults had high blood pressure as of 2010 compared to 22% of whites, 21% of Latinos and 18% of Asians
The most serious threats to the health and safety of young people are often in the form of risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking, suicidal and possessing weapons. Reducing risky behaviors is important to ensure all youth become thriving adults.
Smoking: The percent of BPS high schools students who have ever smoked a cigarette fell from 65% in 1993 to 41% in 2011. Recently, the rate has only increased among white teens from 51% in 2007 to 61% in 2011.
Alcohol Consumption: Nearly 68% of BPS high school students had ever consumed alcohol as of 2011, a rate that has changed little since 1993.
Attempted Suicide: The percent of BPS teens who have ever attempted suicide fell from 13.5% in 1993 to 8.6% in 2011. However, rates have increased among white and Asian teens since 2005.
Violent Crime: The total number of crimes by youth under 16 fell from nearly 1,900 in 2005 to less than 1,100 in 2009, the most recent data available by age.
Historically, some groups have suffered discrimination in access to home mortgages, particularly African Americans and Latinos. This has been well-documented nationally. Locally, discrimination in lending has been documented by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Efforts over the last 20 years to end this discrimination has created a network of banks dedicated to providing mortgage funds in traditionally under-served neighborhoods, but fraud and targeting within the sub-prime mortgage market may deprive many homeowners of their wealth.
Home loan denial rates have declined across all race/ethnicities since peaking in 2008 and disparities in denial rates, while persistent, have narrowed. As of 2010, according to New England-wide data from the Boston Federal Reserve Bank, the loan denial rates declined from 40% in 2008 to 26% in 2010 among African Americans, from 38% to 23.5% for Latinos, from 20.5% to 15% among whites and 18% to 14% among Asian applicants.
However, much of this decline in denial rates is the increase in approve refinance loans. Denial rates for home purchase have remained steady or increased. Additionally, the share of applicants of color has fallen since 2006. In 2010 white applicants were 91% of all home mortgage applications up from 85% in 2006.
As of 2011, more than 42% of white households lived in an owner-occupied home compared to 28% of African Americans, 25% of Asians and 16% of Latino households. The ownership rates increased only among Asian households since 2005 when Boston housing market peaked, up from 19% while rates remained the same for Latinos and decreased by less than two percentage points among African American and white households.
The number of hate crimes in Boston investigated by the Community Disorders Unit of the Boston Police Department (BPD) continued to decline overall, reaching an all-time low of 169 in 2006, despite a slight increase in 2005 to 219 reported incidents.
According to the BPD, the greatest number of hate crimes in 2006—roughly 30%—were perpetrated on the basis of sexual orientation. For the first time, African Americans comprised the second largest group of victims with 33—or 20%—reported incidents in 2006, down from 65—or 30%—in 2005. Jewish people experienced the largest increase in perpetrated hate crimes in 2006 with 24 reported incidents, double the number in 2005 and up from just 9 in 2004. Crimes against Middle Eastern people declined to 8 incidents in 2006 from 20 in 2004.
According to the BPD, the Police District including South Boston reported the highest number and percentage of hate and miscellaneous crimes for 2006 with 43 incidents—roughly 20%—followed by Central/Beacon Hill and Dorchester, both with 27 incidents, and the South End/Back Bay District with 26 incidents. Mattapan experienced the largest decrease in incidents with 6 in 2006, down from 18 in 2005. Allston/Brighton and Hyde Park also experienced 9 fewer hate crimes in 2006 than in 2005.
Additionally, the percent of teens in Boston who reported carrying a gun within the previous month continued to fall to just 3.3% in 2011 compared to 10% of teens in 1993. The racial/ethnic gap has all but closed when it comes to carrying weapons: 3.9% of African Americans, 3.5% of white and 2.8% of Latinos reported carrying a gun in 2011 compared to 15.3%, 4.7% and 9.6%, respectively, in 1993.
The State of Black Boston highilghts data and stories from some of the city's key voices and civic participants about the nature and extent of racial inequality, but also ideas and strategies for resolving continuing racial gaps.
Participatory Chinatown is a 3D immersive game designed to be part of the master planning process for Boston's Chinatown. It is at the marriage of civic engagement and technology.
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