Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



A civil war in El Salvador in the 1970s and 1980s created a need for the United States to accept refugees, but the U.S. Justice Department’s Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) seldom granted petitions for political asylum by Salvadorans. In response, the Cambridge City Council in1985 passed a resolution that gave sanctuary to Salvadoran and other refugees. This helped facilitate Salvadoran migration to Massachusetts. Now after several decades, the Salvadoran population mostly resides in several cities and towns in the Greater Boston area, and over 40% of their population is native born. The social and economic analysis that follows paints a mixed picture of their incorporation into Massachusetts. Salvadorans have lower levels of educational attainment, but higher labor force participation. A large share of Salvadorans are children, and investment in their education can shape their future economic success.



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