West

Newton partners with Boston College to address income inequality

Newton Mayor Setti Warren said the effort aims to promote long-term economic mobility.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/file 2014
Newton Mayor Setti Warren said the effort aims to promote long-term economic mobility.

Newton Mayor Setti Warren on Thursday announced a new partnership with Boston College that is designed to promote long-term economic mobility in the city and focus specifically on low- income and vulnerable populations.

The partnership with Boston College, called “Economic Growth for All,” is intended to emphasize collaboration between government and academia to ensure the blueprint for economic mobility outlasts any single government administration, Warren said at an event to announce the partnership.

“The issue of our time, I believe, is the issue of income inequality,” Warren said. “The idea that people who work hard and take care of themselves can live in Newton might not be possible for future generations in this city. If we do nothing, we will leave a generation behind.”

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As one of the wealthiest communities in the state, it might seem that Newton is an improbable candidate for an economic mobility initiative. The city’s median household income is $118,639, according to 2014 census data, which is more than twice the national median household income of $51,939.

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But nearly one in eight households in Newton is operating off an income level of less than $25,000, according to a 2014 report from the Northeastern University Center for Urban and Regional Policy.

With the help of Boston College Professor Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, the city produced a report called Making Ends Meet in Newton: A Guide to Economic Security and Self-Sufficiency. The report shows that about 21 percent of families earn less than $75,000 annually, but families with two parents and two children need to make nearly $78,000 to make ends meet.

The report is meant to be a starting point for both current residents, potential future residents and policymakers.

The research will be ongoing, and the policy framework will be implemented by a multi-disciplinary coalition divided into four working groups focusing on education, self-sufficiency income, health and well-being, and the innovation economy.

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Boston College students and faculty were encouraged to submit proposals for research surrounding income inequality and the working groups’ themes by Dec. 2.

Allison Pohle can be reached at allisonpohle@gmail.com.