Boston’s demographic global revitalization since 1990

Cities and towns outside of Boston have undergone a seismic demographic shift since 1990, adding thousands of foreign-born residents and transforming the region. Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants have changed the face of Quincy. Guatemalans have made Waltham their home. And in Brockton, foreign-born black residents from Haiti, Cape Verde, and other countries in Africa have settled in a city that was once predominantly white.

Boston itself has long been a majority-minority city, meaning that most of its residents are racial or ethnic minorities. But Boston, too, is changing, with a handful of neighborhoods — such as the South End, Mission Hill, and Jamaica Plain — becoming more white in the past 27 years, the report found.

Meanwhile, the city’s suburbs and outlying enclaves have become even more diverse, with the nonwhite population outside Boston having increased more than 250 percent over three decades.

The research report notes “a striking cluster of cities” north of Boston — including Malden, Everett, Revere, Lynn, and Chelsea — that have rapidly diversified. Those communities were majority white a couple of decades ago, but no longer. Not only has the number of new immigrants in the area increased sharply but the immigrants are coming from a broader section of the world, including China, the Dominican Republic, India. and Brazil.

91 percent of Greater Boston’s new population growth comes from international immigration to the region. More than a quarter of the city (28 percent) is foreign-born, as is 19 percent of the full Boston region, the report said.

Foreign-born workers comprise nearly 80 percent of the increase in the labor force in Massachusetts since 1990.

The research shows that between 2000 and 2016 the Asian-American population growth has been fastest in the region’s smaller, suburban municipalities. In Quincy, the change has been profound. For decades, the report said, the city struggled to revitalize its once vibrant downtown amid the rise of suburban malls nearby. “But as city planners consistently looked to a future of modern buildings and redesigned roadways, Asian-Americans seized the moment, the report said. The Asian-American population was 6 percent of Quincy’s population in 1990; today it is 28 percent, the researchers said.

From the Boston Globe

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