By Yasemin Akar, Research Fellow & Poorani Jagadeesan, Technology Team Intern
Massachusetts has been home to both refugees and foreign-born populations for centuries. As the current U.S. population ages, refugees and the foreign-born population are keeping Massachusetts and Boston young. Since refugees and foreign born populations tend to be younger than the native born U.S. population in Massachusetts, the state and specifically the city of Boston’s median age have fallen in recent years. While the median age for the U.S. is 38, Boston has a median age of 32 and Massachusetts’ is 39. Moreover, refugees and the foreign population in Massachusetts contribute to the knowledge-based economy that is crucial for STEM and healthcare.
Massachusetts has averaged between 1,400 and 1,900, states in reality have little direct control of the placement of refugees. The State Department, partnered with nine domestic nonprofit organizations, decides where the refugees will be resettled based on different variables, including job opportunities, housing, family connections, and support from the communities. However, states do provide social services for their residents and refugees as well.
That said, 68% of refugees who have resettled in Massachusetts live in Greater Boston (includes: Everett, Lynn, Salem, Malden, Revere, Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Brockton) and service providers for refugees are also located in Greater Boston due to this reason. However, data collected in towns of Massachusetts indicate that even though there is a considerable amount of refugees in Greater Boston, 24% of refugees were resettled in Western Massachusetts (Agawam, Northampton, Westfield, Springfield, Greenfield, Holyoke, Chicopee, West Springfield, Pittsfield), and 8% of refugees were resettled in Central Massachusetts (Leominster, Worcester, Fitchburg).
Boston, negatively affects refugees living in those areas. The dearth of public transit to service providers may restrict some refugees from accessing necessary resources related to resettlement or post-resettlement support.
the 7th largest immigrant population of the U.S. Massachusetts’s foreign-born population is generally located in Chelsea (44%), Malden (43%), Everett (41%), Lawrence (37%), Revere (35%), Lynn (32%) and Randolph (30%). In addition, foreign-born individuals, like the refugee population, are more likely to be working age compared to the U.S-born population. For instance, in Boston alone between 1980 and 2010, the labor force grew from 275,571 to 362,846. The foreign-born population constituted 89% of the economic growth for Boston, while the U.S. born population made up for 11%. Without the foreign-born population Boston’s labor force would have been insufficient for its economic growth.