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Segregation of the Boston communities

Figure 1: Division of Boston into communities. Source: MassGIS [2002]

Table: Demographic characteristics of Boston Communities. Absolute values (Total, White, Black, and Hispanic) are in thousands, relative (with % in name) in per cents. Source: [MassGIS, 2002]

Total White Black Hispanic White(%) Black(%) Hispanic(%)
Brookline 57.1 44.5 1.3 1.9 78.04 2.24 3.32

Figure 2: Spatial distribution of the black population in the Boston Communities. Source: MassGIS [2002]

Figure 3: Spatial distribution of the Hispanic population in the Boston Communities. Source: MassGIS [2002]

The area analyzed in this article is based on McArdle [2003]'s set of the ``central/high density cities'' limited to the central area of the Boston metropolitan area (see fig:map-Boston). I have added to the set the City of Brookline, in order to avoid selection on dependent variable, because although Brookline is highly affluent neighborhood, it is nevertheless both high-density, centrally located and urban (unless urban is understood as a euphemism for poor). I have also divided the area of the City of Boston itself into separate communities (according to The Boston Foundation [2002a]), because the City of Boston when analyzed as whole hides behind its size all its internal diversity.

I have also limited my analysis mostly to the Boston black community2 in order to make size of my data manageable, and because extraordinary position of the segregation of the black community [Massey and Denton, 1993] makes it legitimate to make its separate analysis. During the analysis I have ignored two communities, which were clear outliers in data: Harbor Islands (where are just some social institutions of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and no permanent inhabitants) and Fenway/Kenmore (where is even bigger share of students among the population than is common in the Boston area and results are always rather skewed).

The first step in the analysis was to identify parts of the whole area where the representation of the different races/ethnics is higher than average in the whole area. Data from U.$ $S. Census 2000 MassGIS [2002] were arranged into the table tab:race-rates. Total number of inhabitants total population in a given community are shown in thousands and the column is calculated from the Census variable P007001. Numbers for White, Black, and Latino population are both in the absolute numbers in thousands (variables P007003, P007004, and P007010) and in per cents as a share of white, black (both non-Hispanic), and Hispanic population on given community. Communities with greater share of black and Hispanic population than the average in whole area (15.97$ $% and 12.41$ $%) are in bold letters and underlined respectively. For clear presentation of the results I have created also maps showing the spatial distribution of the Black population in the tracts of analyzed area (see fig:black-Boston) and the same map for the Hispanic population (see fig:hisp-Boston).

Both the table and the map show very high level of segregation. There is on the one hand a long curved area in the southeast of the City of Boston between Hyde Park and Jamaica Plain, which contains most of the black population (just Mattapan, Roxbury, and South Dorchester contains 53.24$ $% of the Black population in whole analyzed area; blacks are 56.69$ $% of the total population of these communities). On the other hand area of the north and west parts of the City of Boston (Beacon Hill, Central community, and South Boston) seems to be disproportionately more populated by white people. This contrast is most visible on the line between the second most and the second least black neighborhood in the City of Boston: Roxbury and South Boston. Special cases in the city which doesn't seem to fit in the overall city pattern are Charlestown and East Boston in the northern part of the city and West Roxbury in the southern. The former seems to belong more to the neighborhood of Cambridge and Somerville, and the latter is according to Boston Redevelopment Authority [2001] de facto part of suburbs.

Comparison between the city of Boston and other communities in our area shows that whole city of Boston has much more minorities than rest of the analyzed area. All non-Bostonian communities in our sample have sub-average representation of the Black population and even the highest among these, Cambridge, has just slightly more than half of the average Bostonian share of the Black population (moreover, the map shows that only remarkable black community lives in the projects of the Northern Cambridge).

The situation is slightly different with the Hispanic community. Although there is a similar pattern of local concentration of the Hispanic population in the area of the East Boston, and Chelsea, the level of segregation of Hispanic population is less severe than in the case of the Black population. Eight communities in the area have supra-average share of Latinos comparing to only six Black ones and only 35.71$ $% of all Latino lives in the three communities with the highest proportion of Hispanic population (East Boston, Chelsea, and Roxbury) and they constitute only 35.26$ $% of the population in these communities. Moreover, although I cannot prove it from my data (which are all from the same time period), according to Massey and Denton [1993, p. 77] the segregation of the Black communities is usually more perpetual than segregation of other groups and newly immigrated populations.

Standard measurement of the interracial/ethnic segregation is according to Massey and Denton [1993, p. 46] the index of residential dissimilarity (percentage of the minority population which would have to move in order to make racial/ethnic composition of the city even, i.$ $e., that every unit of the city will have the same proportion of the minorities as whole city). Indices of residential dissimilarity for the analyzed area is 51.72$ $% for black population and 36.85$ $% for Hispanic population (just for the City of Boston the numbers are 48.66$ $% and 34.50$ $%). My numbers cannot be unfortunately used to compare the residential segregation between the communities with the data of Massey and Denton [1993] (because their indices are based on substantially less homogeneous wider base, they correctly show that the true segregation in the Boston MPSA is substantially higher). However, these my calculations further validate the conclusion, that the segregation of the Hispanic population is less severe than the Black one in absolute numbers.

My data does not cover any time period, so it is not possible for me to analyze any dynamical changes in the segregation. The similar data were analyzed by McArdle [2003] and she got very similar dissimilarity indices of the segregation in the City of Boston (see Figure 10 p. 23), but moreover she analyzed also dynamics of desegregation and found a pattern of change common for both Bostonian suburbs and the city, where a segregation of blacks although higher in absolute numbers is declining more rapidly than the segregation of both Latino and Asian population.

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Next: Socio-economical characteristics Up: Boston Community Segregation: How Previous: Introduction
Matej Cepl 2003-12-23