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Metro and Regional Inequalities

Research in this section focuses attention on the structure of economic and social opportunities created by the intersection of metropolitan and regional housing, education, transportation, growth, workforce and other policies, all within a context of often dramatic demographic changes.

The challenges to creating and implementing an anti-discrimination agenda call for a renewed, creative agenda that recognizes the structural, multi-layered impediments to opportunities faced in minority communities. The most obvious, although often overlooked, is the interrelationship between housing and schools, especially residential segregation by class and race. Other topics are less familiar, such as the relationship between racial justice and "smart growth," or racial justice evaluations of metropolitan transportation planning.


Recent Metro and Regional Inequalities Research

Research Item We Don’t Feel Welcome Here: African Americans and Hispanics in Metro Boston
Racial discrimination is an ongoing reality in the lives of African Americans and Hispanics in Metro Boston. Although the region has experienced significant growth in racial and ethnic diversity over the past several decades, racial minority groups continue to struggle for full acceptance and equal opportunity. African Americans and Hispanics report persistent discrimination in the workplace, in seeking housing, and in their day-to-day encounters with other metro area residents.
Research Item The Imprint of Preferences and Racial Attitudes in the 1990s: A Window Into Contemporary Residential Segregation Patterns in the Greater Boston Area
If we truly desire to keep integration on the upswing and to hasten segregation’s descent, we must continue to effectively harness and improve the resources and tools at our disposal—including social science research.
Research Item Race and the Metropolitan Origins Of Postsecondary Access to Four Year Colleges: The Case of Greater Boston
The Metro Boston Equity Initiative is devoted to analyzing race relations and racial equity issues not simply in the city of Boston, but across the entire metropolitan region. Although greater Boston still has a large white majority and suburban sectors with very little diversity, immigration of Latinos and Asians is driving the region’s growth, and much of this population increase is taking place well outside of the city limits. Changing patterns of school enrollment provide a good sense of the region’s near-term future.
Research Item Racial Equity and Opportunity in Metro Boston Job Markets
People of color make up a vital and growing part of Metro Boston’s workforce. They face substantial challenges, however, in obtaining employment (especially in faster-growing and higher-paying sectors), in accessing locations of rapid job growth, and in earning a livable income. Latinos and blacks face the greatest hurdles, yet certain Asian populations struggle as well—especially those with less education and those working in the shrinking manufacturing sector or low-paying service jobs. Previous work by the Metro Boston Equity Initiative of the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University has examined the related challenges of segregated housing patterns and unequal educational opportunities faced by racial and ethnic minorities in Metro Boston.
Research Item Racial Segregation and Educational Outcomes in Metropolitan Boston
Boston’s disastrous failure to achieve peaceful desegregation of its schools three decades ago, particularly the mob violence at South Boston High School, and the transition of the Boston schools to overwhelmingly white enrollment, are commonly seen as areas why the region need not think about patterns of school segregation--nothing can be done about it. This thinking ignores the better experiences of many other cities and also the METCO program that is intact and still in high demand.
Research Item The Color of Money in Greater Boston: Patterns of Mortgage Lending and Residential Segregation at the Beginning of the New Century
The findings of this paper underline the need for “modernization” of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which now applies only to banks and covers only lending in areas where the banks have branches. In the Boston NECTA during the 2000-2002 period, 70% of home-purchase lending was done by out-of-state banks or by mortgage companies not affiliated with Massachusetts banks. These lenders, not covered by CRA, perform significantly worse than covered lenders in lending to borrowers and neighborhoods of color. Pending Massachusetts legislation would bring the state’s CRA into line with the transformed nature of the mortgage lending industry by imposing CRA-type obligations and evaluations on all types of mortgage lenders. This could make a significant contribution to reducing the current racial/ethnic disparities in mortgage lending that are documented in this paper.
Research Item More than Money: The Spatial Mismatch Between Where Homeowners of Color in Metro Boston Can Afford to Live and Where They Actually Reside
Few people argue that segregation is purely a result of market forces, or that it is due entirely to discrimination. Most recognize that the answer must lie somewhere in between. Policy efforts must focus on removing any remnants of discriminatory practices, and must also find ways to attract and retain populations of color in communities that are affordable to but devoid of households of color.
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