Boston’s struggle with income segregation

March 06, 2016

By David Scharfenberg


In 1970, just 8 percent of families in Boston and the surrounding cities and towns lived in the poorest neighborhoods. Now, the figure is more than twice as high — 20 percent. Over the same period, the proportion of families living in the wealthiest neighborhoods has nearly tripled, from 6 percent to 16 percent.

The surge in affluence in some areas and poverty in others has wiped out scores of mixed-income neighborhoods. In 1970, 7 in 10 families lived in these places. Now it’s just 4 in 10.

That’s according to data that sociologists Kendra Bischoff of Cornell and Sean F. Reardon of Stanford provided to the Globe at its request. They also computed figures for the rest of Eastern Massachusetts. Over the last several months, the newspaper has mapped it all — an atlas, in orange and green, of a region pulling apart, with hundreds of thousands living in an economic isolation unlike anything in memory.