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Abstract

The City of Boston is gaining in population during the 1980s, after several decades of loss. During the current decade and beyond, population trends will bring increases in the number of children, adults between the ages of twenty-five and forty-four, and those aged seventy-five and over, along with declines among the older teenagers and college-age population, the more mature adults, and the younger elderly. A recent analysis of the income distribution indicates that while there were more well-to-do residents in Boston in 1985 than there were in 1980, there were also more poor and near poor. Average family income has declined in real terms during this five-year period, whereas it has increased for unrelated individuals. Minorities, children, and the elderly are more likely to be living in poverty than other segments of the population. Related to this, single-parent families and those who live alone contribute the largest share of families and unrelated individuals in poverty.

The implications of these trends for two areas of municipal services — health care and education — are examined, because these services are especially responsive to demographic pressures. Data on health insurance coverage cite the need of the poor for health services. This need might be met by rebuilding Boston City Hospital or by alternative health insurance coverage plans. Among Boston's public school children, a high proportion lack strong economic and familial support systems. The schools need to assess the extent to which, within the constraints of a limited budget, they can serve the very needy and those who seek a high-quality education.

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