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Metro Boston Equity Initiative

Research in this section was conducted under the auspices of the The Metropolitan Boston Equity Initiative, and investigates racial change and the implications of such change for social and economic opportunity within the region’s diverse population.

Collection Metro Boston Equity Initiative
We are committed to generating and synthesizing research on key civil rights and equal opportunity policies that have been neglected or overlooked.
Research Item Metro Boston Equity Initiative
The Metropolitan Boston Equity Initiative investigates racial change and the implications of such change for social and economic opportunity within the region’s diverse population.
Research Item Asian Americans In Metro Boston: Growth, Diversity, and Complexity
We must not lose sight of the fact that race has been and remains a critical factor in the lives and destinies of Asian Americans. We are mindful as well that the complexity that accompanies diversity has potentially important policy implications when dealing with Asian Americans. When considered collectively Asian Americans run the gamut. They are rich and poor, well and poorly educated, city and suburban dwellers, professionals and manual laborers. Individual Asian subgroups often occupy different locations on these divides. Assuredly, given this situation, one size fits all policies in areas such as immigration, education, social welfare, housing, and employment may be inappropriate where Asian Americans are concerned. Especially due to the continuing importance of race, we must caution once again that as responses to this complexity and the difficulty of accounting for its sources and consequences, policy practitioners and analysts should not be tempted to ignore or oversimplify the situation of Asian Americans in Metro Boston and throughout the United States.
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 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 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.
Research Item Beyond Poverty: Race and Concentrated-Poverty Neighborhoods in Metro Boston
Metropolitan Boston needs a serious discussion about racial equity. The region is in the midst of a period of rapid racial change but there is a widespread perception that either nothing needs to be done explicitly about race, or nothing can be done because of failures in the city of Boston in the past. Many people think that issues of discrimination have been solved and that everyone now has an equal chance.
Research Item Segregation in Neighborhoods and Schools: Impacts on Minority Children in the Boston Region
Nearly 30 years after a court ordered Boston’s city schools to desegregate (1974), school segregation continues to be a major obstacle to equal opportunity for minority children in the Boston metropolis. The issues are national in scope, but in Boston we see especially clearly how limited are the impacts of policies that are only implemented within city boundaries. Blacks and Hispanics are unusually concentrated in the City of Boston and a handful of older outlying towns and cities, while residential suburbs where most whites live hardly share in the growing ethnic and racial diversity of the region.
Research Item Segregation in the Boston Metropolitan Area at the End of the 20th Century
The report is based on Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data and census data. The HMDA data provide information about the race, ethnicity, income, and census tract location of nearly all home purchases involving a mortgage loan across the nation. The report covers the Boston Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA). The data are drawn from the years 1993 through 1998.
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 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 Race, Place, and Opportunity: Racial Change and Segregation in the Boston Metropolitan Area: 1990-2000
Minorities are, without question, the engines behind the metro area’s population growth. Balancing the needs of a “majority-minority” central city with largely white suburbs as well as ensuring equal access for those minorities who are entering the suburbs will demand vigilance, courage and leadership at all levels.
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.
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