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Socio-economical characteristics

Table: Economic and Social characteristics of Boston Communities. (*Data for Malden are from year 2000.) Source: [MassGIS, 2002] and the last two columns [The Boston Foundation, 2002b; Bureau of Justice Statistics, DOJ, 2002]

Rate of unemployment
Per capita income
Poverty rate
Viol. rate 2001
Prop. rate 2001
Brookline 2.4424 45,23925 9.2821 0.3726 263.223 1,810.823

After delimitation of the area of the black community itself and assessing the level of segregation in the area, we can continue in analyzing some of its social and economical characteristics.

Before proceeding with the analysis of the data, one note is necessary. I am very much aware of the fact that ``Association does not mean causation'' and so whatever are my conclusions about relations between racial/ethnic composition of communities and crime indicators, these associations should not be under any circumstances used as characterizing particular race or ethnic group as such.

I have used for the analysis data from the U.$ $S. Census 2000 [MassGIS, 2002]: level of unemployment (P043014 and P043007 for the male and female unemployment together with P043001, total civilian workforce), per capita income in 1999 (P082001), poverty data (P087002 for number of people living under the level of poverty and P087001 for total population for which the poverty is calculated), and drop-out numbers (P037003 and P037020 for share of males and females in age 25 without completed schooling, and P037001, which is total number of population in the age 25). I have also added indicators of the violent crimes and the property crimes (per 100,000 persons in population) from Bureau of Justice Statistics, DOJ [2002] and The Boston Foundation [2002b]. The Census values were calculated into rates for the individual communities and then all data are presented as tab:race-economics.

In order to make sense of the data in the table, I have created rankings of all communities according to the respective columns (indicated by the superscripted number) and then marked with boldface font all values, which were in the upper half of the ranking (summary data on the whole City of Boston were not ranked and distinguished by italic font). Because I want to analyze relation between these data and the racial characteristics of the individual communities, I have marked the ones which were identified in the previous section as predominantly Black by boldfacing their name in the first column and predominantly Hispanic by underlining it. For some variables Harbor Islands and Fenway are clear outliers and in such a case the value is stroke out in the table. Moreover, crime indicators are not available for Harbor Islands.

Looking at the data from a broader perspective, a very clear pattern emerges: all communities marked as predominantly Black or Hispanic tend to fall to the lower half or even to the bottom of all rankings. Specifically the group of communities positioned in the table between (and including) East Boston and Mattapan (which are also geographically neighboring one another) create the bottom of all rankings. And among these Roxbury (second ``most black'' community) stands out as the very worst case in per capita income, poverty rate, and the second from the bottom in violent crime. Another evidence of the association between racially/ethnically segregated communities and poor living conditions is Chelsea which is overwhelmingly Hispanic (48.35$ $%) and ranking at the bottom with the above-mentioned group and the worst in drop-out rates and violent crime. Surprisingly it stands slightly better in economic characteristics (especially the rate of unemployment).

When we take a more detailed look we can find many exceptions from this pattern. One of them is caused by the huge student population in Boston (approximately 250,000) which skews especially the rates of unemployment (most notably Fenway, Cambridge, and Central), and of course drop-out rates (here it shows most with South Boston, the seat of the University of Massachusetts in Boston, which would be expected according to other indicators to stand much worse than it does). However, we have to be aware of the crudeness of the methodology and limitations of our data. The example of this is very poor position of Chelsea exactly in the drop-out rates. We cannot be sure whether this value of the drop-out variable can be explained only by the suggested influence of the low socioeconomical status of the Hispanic population, or other factors influences the drop-out rate as well. One such possible explanation is that education of Hispanic population born (and educated) outside of the United States is incompatible with the standard American education and thus unacknowledged in the Census. Another comment for the drop-out value is necessary--its range is so narrow, that the rough methodology of analysis could be affected discover possible errors.

There is couple of another exceptions to the general rule, that segregated communities suffer worse socioeconomic characteristics. When considering crime-related indicators, Fenway/Kenmore, Back Bay/Beacon Hill, and the Central community being apparently one of the most affluent by other measures stand out as three worst in terms of the property crime and in the lower half in terms of the violent crime (and the Central community the third worst just following Chelsea and Roxbury). The probable solution to this issue is twofold. First of all, crime does not follow the place of living (as other Census statistical variables do). Second, the magnitude of the difference between Back Bay and Central community, can be explained only by the fact that these communities contain most of the financial district, where certainly most of the property-related white-collar crimes happen.

Another important exception from the rule is Hyde Park. Although it firmly stands in the minority part of Boston by its racial/ethnic characteristics (and geographical location) with 39.07$ $% and 13.50$ $% share of the Black and Hispanic population respectively and according to maps consistent minority residency across the area, all its socio-economic indicators except of one are in the upper half of the rank. Further research would be probably necessary to prove it firmly, but it seems that in this area we can find another level of segregation of the already segregated community--this time the area of the Black middle class separated from the rest of the Black community.

Another exceptional community is the South End, which has extraordinary high per capita income (fifth best), but ranks in the bottom of all other variables. I do not have a good explanation of this phenomenon available, aside from the problems with my too crude methodology or missing some data. One variable which should be probably investigated further is the share of foreign-born members of a community, which may explain this and some other irregularities.

Last group of remarkable communities is group in the southwest part of the City of Boston (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, and Roslindale), which in all its characteristics puts them outside of the Boston urban area more towards suburbs (Jamaica Plain has a divided nature, with a part falling into the Black community and other one to the semisuburban part of Boston).

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Next: Conclusion Up: Boston Community Segregation: How Previous: Segregation of the Boston
Matej Cepl 2003-12-23