Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



The Silent Crisis: Involving Latinos in Decision-Making & Why Latino Representation Matters provides a measure of the economic, social, and political inclusion of Latinos at mid-decade in three cities of the Commonwealth where about one fourth of the state’s Latino population lives. Often wrongly referred to as a “new population,” Latinos have been present in Massachusetts since the end of the 19th century, arriving in large numbers beginning in the 1960s and 1970s and growing to nearly 630,000 persons (9.6% of the population) by 2010. That same year, they accounted for 62.1% of the population of Chelsea, 17.5% of the population of Boston, and 10.6% of the population of Somerville.

The report focuses on reflective representation, that is, the type of representation that seeks to reflect the demography of a certain group or population. It defines representation of Latinos in executive positions in city government and among members of boards and commissions in relation to the representation of Latinos in the overall population of the cities. It identifies under-representation when the level of representation in government bodies fall below the proportion of Latinos in the population of each city. The report utilizes census data to describe the population of each city; each city’s publicly available data on specific executive positions and boards and commissions; and interviews conducted with government officials in the cities.

The report demonstrates that while the Latino presence in each of these cities has grown and become increasingly evident, the presence of Latinos in city government has not kept pace. Instead, in each city, we find a gap between the presence and growth of Latino communities and their representation in the halls of government.


The Greater Boston Latino Network (GBLN) is a collective effort of Latino-led community-based organizations in Boston, Chelsea, and Somerville working in partnership to address historical underrepresentation of Latinos in leadership roles across the cities of Boston, Chelsea, Somerville, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

This study was conducted by Prof. Miren Uriarte, Prof. Jim Jennings, and Jen Douglas with support from the Barr Foundation. The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Barr Foundation.

Community Engaged/Serving

Part of the UMass Boston Community-Engaged Teaching, Research, and Service Series.


Greater Boston Latino Network



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