Boston Indicators is the research center at the Boston Foundation, working to advance a thriving Greater Boston for all residents across all neighborhoods. We do this by analyzing key indicators of well-being and by researching promising ideas for making our region more prosperous, equitable and just. To ensure that our work informs active efforts to improve our region, we work in deep partnership with community groups, civic leaders and Greater Boston’s civic data community to produce special reports and host public convenings.
History of Boston Indicators
Initially created in 2000 through a partnership with the City of Boston and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Boston Indicators (or the Boston Indicators Project, as it was originally known) has been a primary resource for data-driven analysis in Greater Boston. Boston Indicators analyzes big trends in Boston and its neighborhoods in a regional, national and global context. In addition to our research initiatives, we convene civic leaders to foster public discourse.
For our first 15 years, the Indicators Framework—a curated online catalogue of 350 measures of well-being in the Boston area—was the backbone of our work. Based on the contributions of hundreds of local thought leaders, the Framework articulated 70 shared civic goals and reported on change across 10 sectors: Civic Vitality, Cultural Life and the Arts, the Economy, Education, the Environment, Health, Housing, Public Safety, Technology, and Transportation. The Framework was used in a real-time way to measure our progress as a city and inform important civic conversations.
Boston Indicators is a founding partner of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP), a learning network, coordinated by the Urban Institute, of independent organizations in 30 cities that share a mission to ensure all communities have access to data and the skills to use information to advance equity and well-being across neighborhoods.
In April 2020, Boston Indicators launched the COVID Community Data Lab (CCDL) with the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, a two-year research project to capture and analyze the wide-ranging social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Greater Boston. Featuring a repository of real-time, traditional and nontraditional data sources and short research briefs, the CCDL was a community resource to policymakers, advocates and the general public. The Data Lab’s 2021 “Seizing the Moment” series convened a range of community voices to propose concrete ideas for an equitable and just recovery.
In addition to conducting research that is responsive to active efforts to improve our communities, Boston Indicators continues to produce larger, high-profile public reports chronicling Boston’s accomplishments and highlighting core challenges. Major reports include:
Timeline of Major Reports
Criminal Justice Reform in Massachusetts is the first systematic look at the impact of two landmark criminal justice reform laws passed in 2018.View Report
The year’s Report Card finds continued housing production challenges and that housing cost burdens have been increasing for most renter households. The report also features a special topic analysis of community land trusts (CLTs).View Report
Based on extensive review of local planning documents, state reports, and press coverage over the past 100 years, this report finds widespread use of zoning as a tool of social exclusionView Report
Massachusetts has among the largest racial homeownership gaps in the country, but we also have some model affordable homeownership programs working to make a difference.View Report
Black residents of Greater Boston are four-times as likely to be foreign born as Black Americans overall, and our region’s Afro-Latino population has more than doubled in just 20 years.View Report
Greater Boston struggles with a lack of affordable housing, as tight inventory and rising costs place significant burdens on homebuyers and renters.View Report
Care workers provide supports that every person requires at some point, whether in infancy, illness, disability, or old age.View Report
Massachusetts is among the wealthiest states in the country, and yet Latino communities here continue to struggle disproportionately with food insecurity, poverty, and unemployment.View Report
Not only is racial diversity increasing in the aggregate, but a growing number of families are forming across racial and ethnic lines.View Report
Asian Americans have the largest intragroup income inequality of any racial group.View Report
A vision for building walkable 15-minute neighborhoods that leverages our strengths and addresses many of our region’s persistent challenges.View Report
Roughly half of small businesses nationwide have unmet need for capital, and this share jumps to two-thirds for entrepreneurs of color.View Report
With contributions from a range of community voices, Seizing the Moment presents concrete ideas for building back better from the pandemic.View the Series
The wrong level of government—small cities and towns, rather than the state—is making too many of our important housing policy decisions. This paper offers one concrete model for how the state can take a more proactive role in setting land use regulations.View Report
Massachusetts has an opportunity to lead the nation in providing a guaranteed income to low and moderate-income residents, utilizing a tool already at its disposal – the Earned Income Tax Credit.View Report
Even though our city’s total population has been increasing, we’ve actually lost school-aged population at the same time. Enrollment in Boston’s schools has declined and those who remain are increasingly isolated by income and race.View Report
A growing federal effort to limit immigration to the U.S. has had substantial impact on families, communities and the legal system in Massachusetts.View Report
After a decline during the mid-20th century, we’re now several decades into a new global wave of immigration, bringing Boston back to its roots as a city of immigrants.View Report
Boston’s booming economy has many benefits, but it’s still leaving too many families behind. Economic mobility is down. Our middle class is hollowing out. Racial disparities persist.View Report
Presents data that provide a helpful background vehicle and jumping off point for a very unreasonable goal—Making Boston America’s Upward Mobility City.Download Report
A snapshot of changes in Boston’s K-12 education landscape after five years of reform showing the growth of the autonomous schools and the impact on student learning and achievement.Download Report
Shows that standard economic indicators don’t tell us everything we need to know about equity and prosperity in Boston’s post-recession innovation economy.Download Report
A short report on poverty in Boston over the last two decades and today.Download Report
Highlights rising income inequality in Boston and the region and its harmful effects.Download Report
A comprehensive view of the entire arc of Boston’s system of educational opportunities and outcomes.Download Report
Details Boston’s outsized historic and current role in the world and seven crisis/opportunity pairs that, together, reframe Boston’s challenges as the foundation for future growth.Download Report
Notes intensifying global competition for talent and jobs and the need for a coherent response.Download Report
Emphasizes post-recession Boston’s creative economy assets and the challenge of talent retention in a high-cost city and region.Contact us to Learn More
Provides baseline data for the height of Boston’s tech boom, and warns of the regional knowledge economy’s disparate effect on more- and less-well educated Boston residents.Contact Us to Learn More