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2010 Census Shows Boston Among Most Segregated Cities



When we last talked to sociologist John Logan, leader of the US 2010 Census Project at Brown University, he said the most striking finding from the latest census is just how racially segregated America remains.

Upon further study, Logan has come up with some sobering observations about Greater Boston: Among the nation’s big cities, Boston is in 11th place for the most extreme residential segregation between blacks and whites. The metro area ranks fifth in Asian-white segregation. In Hispanic-white segregation, we’re fourth, behind only LA, New York, and Newark.

Furthermore, Professor Logan says minorities living Boston’s segregated neighborhoods make less money and get less education than peers living in whiter neighborhoods.

Professor John Logan joins us again from the Brown campus in Providence.


  • John Logan, professor of Sociology, Brown University

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  • Alex G.

    I’m a white person living in Malden, with plenty of neighbors of other races – especially Asian – and am proud of it!

  • Ken

    I live in Dorchester in a very diverse neighborhood. My neighbors are Irish, Vietnamese, Haitian, West African, Latino, Catholic, Jewish and Protestant . Everyone says “hello” and looks out for each other and when there are problems we come together as a community to solve them.

    Our children all play together and many go to school together. Our elected representatives are, for the most part, very attentive to the diversity of our neighborhood. Our community newspaper (The Reporter) also celebrates the diversity of our neighborhood.

    • Jumpingrabbitt

      hmmm, didnt know catholics and protestants were races…. thought they were religions.. amirite?!?!

  • victorious!

    This is one of the reasons I dislike living in Boston. I’ll be happy when I finish school so I can leave this city. Boston is extremely segregated and to me an indication of non-progressive attitude. I don’t have a problem with self-segregation itself. It is a natural human thing to want to live in neighborhoods that “look like you.” But the problem is there are institutional barriers that fuel the segregation. I also agree that Boston’s segregation is based on both race and socio-economic status.

  • Mark

    I’m half chinese and half white, and I’ve spent most of my time living overseas. At my university (Northeastern), I find that it is very segregated. Everyone just seems to stick to their own racial group.

  • T M

    I’m a Irish and in my late 20s, just bought my first house in Boston. I never considered race, but I paid very close attention to the google-map crime overlay.

    • Mj3123

      Who in the HELL would want to live in Boston? Its cold as SH??/ give me somewhere nice and warm/Lots and lots of sunshine. Boston like so many places mostly a lot of hype. Blue skies can be found in a lot of other places/Boston PLEASEEEEEEEEEE.

  • Aaron J.

    I grew up with great schools in Lexington, MA and a lot of my high school classmates were the sons and daughters of Asian immigrants who rented or lived in affordable housing in our town. These Asian kids–Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, etc.–had tremendous values. They spent their evenings in the library, always did their homework, and shared the interests of the other town kids. They went from speaking poor English freshman year to getting 600-800 on the SATs in junior and senior year. Many went to great schools. Their parents chose Lexington because they valued education and willingly paid more money or took on second or third jobs to live Lexington. And their kids put in the hours and had the discipline to do well. All the credit goes to them. In terms of why Asian immigrants do better than others, I don’t think it’s racism or discrimination. These kids earned there way to the top. They valued discipline, education, work, self-reliance, academic excellence, and ambition. They’re an American success story.

  • Jason

    I am concerned that the numbers used as a basis for these stats may be skewed. The Dorchester Reporter has reported that the city (BRA) has shifted the boundaries of the neighborhoods— which may impact the counts per neighborhood and their racial demographics (like the ones shown in the graphic with this article.) Please ask the professor about this.

    • Aragusea

      Hi, Jason. The BRA’s shifting of the neighborhood boundaries has implications for the way we understand the composition of those particular neighborhoods (Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan), but it doesn’t have any impact on the tract-by-tract analysis that Prof. Logan was talking about today; municipal or neighborhood boundaries are irrelevant to the patterns of segregation he describes. That said, I think Bill Forry’s piece in the Dot Reporter about summed up the story with his quote from Carney Hospital president Bill Walczak: “It’s just really annoying to know that neighborhoods can have their names changed by the bureaucracy inside the BRA.” I can imagine!

  • southerner

    I’ve lived all over the US – North, Mid-Atlantic, South, and West, and feel that the Boston area is the most segregated that I’ve EVER been to (including the South, where I’m from). Not only is segregation race-based here, it is also socio-economic. By far, the most non-progressive city in the country.

    • Alex G.

      While overall this is true, especially when you contrast outer suburbs vs. the inner metropolis and old mill cities, there are plenty of exceptions for integrated neighborhoods: Places like Dorchester, Malden, Salem, Medford, Worcester, and Quincy are highly diverse, and many of these areas have always been so.

      • Alex G.

        Actually, scratch Salem – immigrants and people from other neighborhoods largely live in one particular neighborhood in that city – but add Framingham to that list as another successful, diverse city.

  • Maya9

    This isn’t a surprise, but I’d say that a lot of the segregation is self-imposed. As a white woman who once lived in Chelsea, I can understand why. Who wants to live in a place where most of the signs are in a different language, not to mention sidewalks littered with drug paraphernalia? Humans will always self-segregate, and it is antithetical to liberty to try to force people to live together just because it makes you feel a little more kumbaya to mix up skin colors and income levels. If people choose it, fine, but stop trying to make people feel guilty because they want to live in a safe, clean neighborhood (regardless of pigment.)

    • Bethune2

      Supporting racial segregation for the reasons you state is no excuse for depriving children of the language education all children deserve regardless of class, socioeconomic status, or race. Secondly, supporting education in one language-English is as antithetical to humanity’s intellectual capacity as is forcing people to live together is to liberty. Also, how do you define liberty? Is liberty the right to be ignorant? True, we have the freedom to be the ignorant, but wouldn’t federally mandating the requirement for fluency in at least two other languages besides English be more about responsibility than liberty? As Americans, we must balance responsibility with democratic values; meaning, we are free only in as much as our freedom doesn’t infringe on another freedoms, we are free to start entrepreneurial pursuits as long as we do so legally, or we are free to exercise freedom of religion without preventing others from doing so. You can’t divorce our constitutional rights from the need to exercise those rights responsibly, whether that need be moral, civic, or ethical. Given the fact that Spanish-speaking Hispanics will be overtaking English-speaking whites as the new majority in 50-100 years in the U.S., don’t we as Americans have a responsibility to teach our children to be fluent in languages like Spanish? Don’t our children risk being disenfranchised because of our decision to be ignorant only because we feel learning other languages is uncomfortable? If I ever have children, I will do my best to help them achieve fluency in at least one other language because I think it is my responsibility as an American to do so. While we may enjoy the luxury of wallowing in intellectual and linguistic mediocrity, our grandchildren certainly won’t be able to enjoy the same. Cultural homogeneity may benefit whites in the short term, but it certainly won’t help us in the long-term. For the sake of your children and grandchildren, please dare to challenge and reevaluate your convictions about culture and languages.

  • Behtune2

    Given the current rate of demographic change as seen in the 2010 census as well as John Logan’s finding’s in the the 2010 Census project, is it possible that Spanish would become the predominately spoken language in the U.S. in about 50 years?

    • Jredsox20

      no.it is mostly like in 30 years 1 out of 5 people will be indian in the world.

  • Colliewood

    Most middle class whites (especially those with kids) do not want to live with other races…why? it’s simple…they subconsciously know that some of their kids will end up dating outside their race in school, eventually leading to interracial marriage, leading to mixed children, etc…..Since the white population is already declining (unless you want to include the hispanics and middle easterners who label themselves white on the census), living with a bunch of minorities will mean a quicker decline in white population of America…(white upper class, singles and professionals are moving en masse to the city…gentrifying old black and immigrant neighborhoods etc)

    Immigrants are responsible for their own segregation…generally when they first arrive, they cluster with people of their own culture, nationality, as one might expect.  Once they move up the socio-economic ladder, they tend to move to upper income neighborhoods, which happen to be largely white.  But when their numbers get too high, whites move to the outer burbs (see the fastest growing counties, most of which are outer suburbs with higher white populations as a percentage than their inner suburban counterparts). 

    Lower to middle class blacks are leaving the inner cities where they have long been the majority for the cheaper suburbs. Upper class blacks are following the whites to the outer burbs…but, they don’t realize that they are not welcome, as the census trends prove that suburbs with surging black populations (mainly in the south) are seeing quickly diminishing white populations.

    Conclusion:  whites are more polite and humane to non-whites, but the census trends  speak much louder than words.  Nothing has change, they still do not want to live with you.

    • antiracist

      KKK much?

      • Jasonwistaff

        The pro multiculturalists aka white liberaldemocrats , are the worst offenders when it comes to segregating themselves from other races. They live in white communities , send their kids to all white private  schools, while at the same time crowing about how great multiculturalism is! Hypocrites!

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