NE Ethnia: Boston more diverse, region still segregated

A report in today's Boston Globe summarizes the findings of a housing study in greater Boston by Kennedy School professor Guy Stuart. Although the region in general is becoming more diverse, the picture changes when one looks at where population growth is taking place. To wit:

"Nonwhites and Latinos are moving to satellite cities in large and disproportionate numbers. While 15 percent of the region lived in satellite cities in 2000, for example, 34 percent of the area's Latinos resided there. The study listed the satellite cities as Attleboro, Brockton, Fall River, Fitchburg, Gloucester, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, New Bedford, and Worcester."

As the population in the satellite cities grows, the cities are becoming more segregated since "whites who departed either moved to another community or shifted to blocks where whites already had been disproportionately represented." These other communities include suburban towns, where the population of the average block was 93 per cent white in 2000. The article concludes:

''If these trends continue," Stuart said, ''satellite cities will become more racially and ethnically divided, as whites either leave or move to enclaves that are already largely white, in the face of a rapidly expanding nonwhite and Latino community." 

I would add that housing is not the only area where division is apparent. The pattern was obvious in our previous home in Worcester, where expanding and culturally vibrant immigrant communities are almost entirely excluded from the Soviet-type political structures, and live on blocks which are ignored by the financial and business structures. Meanwhile the businesses which would be in the city center (bulldozed long ago to buld a chronically failing shopping mall with a large and generally empty parking garage) were migrating across the border to the strip-mall section of suburban Shrewsbury. As we used to tell people trying to find us, "We live right where downtown would be if there were one."

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