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Boston's Foreign Born Population: A Breakdown

By Peter Ciurczak

April 27, 2017

As one of the top 25 cities in the United States for the settlement of foreign born individuals, Boston’s immigrant population is critical to our city’s success. In fact, were it not for new immigrants, Boston’s population would be roughly on par with its population in the 1980s.

Boston's population With and Without Immigrants


Looking at the foreign born population of Boston, we can see that Boston’s largest immigrant communities live in East Boston and Chinatown. East Boston is particularly interesting for its large percentage of immigrants hailing from Latin American countries; while Chinatown’s population comes largely from China and Asia. Both neighborhoods feature census tracts where foreign born individuals exceed 50 percent of the population.

Boston’s newest citizens principally reside within Chinatown. There, roughly 26 percent of the population is naturalized, with 92 percent of these naturalized citizens coming from Asia. This follows closely with the census data showing China as the top origin country of Boston’s foreign born population.

Concentrated most visibly in East Boston and Dorchester’s Harbor Point neighborhood, noncitizens make up a significant portion of Boston’s foreign born community. In addition to undocumented immigrants, this category covers international students, green card holders, and anyone on a visa within the United States. As a result, many of the neighborhoods surrounding Boston’s universities also play host to large percentages of noncitizens, whether they be students, faculty members or their families.

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