December 13, 2011
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) has released a summary of “The State of Equity in Metro Boston,” a report studying the ways that inequity affects the residents of greater Boston at each stage of life: as children, young adults, adults, and seniors.
The full report and findings were released on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at an event co-hosted by Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice.
The State of Equity in Metro Boston is the first in a series of indicator reports that will monitor the region’s progress toward achieving the goals set out by MAPC’s MetroFuture plan, which is the region’s blueprint for economic growth and resource preservation now through the year 2030.
MetroFuture includes many equity-related goals to make our region more just and prosperous, including building a wider diversity of housing types in all communities; increasing access to healthy food, air, green space and medical care; providing more convenient transportation options; and equipping all residents with the tools to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.
Overall, the report shows Metro Boston is becoming more diverse and increasingly foreign-born, with an older population that is growing in number, and a younger population that is becoming more ethnically diverse. The report also shows that income inequality is high and growing in Massachusetts, and the region remains highly segregated.
David Harris, managing director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, said: “Although the findings of this report should be sobering to all of us, we at the Houston Institute are glad to be part of its release and look forward to working with MAPC and others from across the region to move us toward a more equitable future.”
“The State of Equity report, and the MetroFuture plan, both reflect MAPC’s increasing belief that sustainability and equity are the twin pillars of smart growth,” said Jessie Grogan, MAPC policy analyst and co-author of the report. “MAPC is excited to join partners around the region in building the healthy, prosperous region MetroFuture envisions.”
The “State of Equity” will be followed by a policy report that will outline key recommendations for ensuring the region is on track to meet its equity-related goals.
Among the report’s key findings:
- Incomes are distributed less equitably here than in 85 percent of metro areas in the U.S.
- Massachusetts’ poorest families pay more than twice as much of their income on taxes than the state’s richest families pay
- Half the renters in the region are housing-burdened, meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent
- The region’s affordable housing is mainly occupied by moderate-income people earning 80 percent or more of the median, leaving the poor spending a third of their income on housing
- Nearly three-quarters of black and Latino students attend high poverty schools, compared to just over 10 percent of white students
- Dropout rates for black and Latino students are three times higher than for Asian and white students
- A black woman with a college degree is more likely to have an underweight baby than is a white woman with only a high school education
- Seniors are facing increasing financial challenges, with nearly 40 percent of households headed by Latino and Asian seniors bringing in less than \ 0,000 a year
- Increasingly, families are headed by grandparents, and those families live in poverty at rates nearly 50 percent higher than the regional average
“Without deliberate action to reverse the disparities documented in this report, demographic trends will only worsen the toxic effects of inequity on our region,” said report co-author and MAPC Senior Regional and Public Health planner Mariana Arcaya. “For example, children of color account for a growing share of the school-age population and our future labor force, but three-quarters of black and Latino children now attend high-poverty schools. Unless we work to eliminate the educational disparities these children face, our region’s economic competitiveness will suffer.”