A Different City
The “new Cambridge” is younger, more highly educated, more mobile, and more diverse.
The implications of the recent, rapid growth of Cambridge’s innovation sector extend well beyond start-ups, IPOs, and the overall composition of the economy. They can be seen and felt in neighborhoods and on sidewalks, in the new buildings and store-fronts, and in the changing lives and livelihoods of those who call Cambridge home. The resulting “new Cambridge” is younger, more highly educated, more mobile, and more diverse.
Beyond the economy, the city’s broad-based growth is attracting more people. Cambridge’s population has been experiencing a level of growth unprecedented in 40 years. Following decades of population loss and stagnation through the end of the 20th century, the total number of residents has increased by more than 13 percent since 2010. The city is nearing its 1950 population peak of 120,000.
Cambridge has become a city of young knowledge workers. Since 2010 almost all of Cambridge’s population growth has been driven by the college-age and millennial workforce (ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 34, respectively). Combined, these groups grew from 42 percent to nearly half of the total population.
High educational attainment is now almost a prerequisite for living in Cambridge. An astounding 81 percent of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, up from 73 percent in 2010. More than half now have at least a master’s degree.
The residents of Cambridge today are less likely to be homegrown. Just 27 percent of current residents are Massachusetts natives, down from almost a third in 2010. Of current residents, 41.5 percent were born in another state or territory, while an additional 31.7 percent hail from another country. Much of this regional diversity speaks to the draw of Cambridge’s world-class universities — roughly a third of residents born outside of Massachusetts are undergraduate or graduate students, a rate that has remained constant over the decade.
Cambridge has become more diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, but with almost no growth in the Black population, whose relative share has declined. More than 66 percent of residents identify as white, nearly unchanged from 2010. Much of the increase in diversity has come from a growing Asian population, which has gone from 15 percent to 18.6 percent, and Latinx population, up from 7.6 percent to 11.4 percent. At the same time, the Black population numbers have remained virtually flat; as a result, the group now comprises less than 10 percent of the total population.
Cambridge Demographic Profile over Four Decades »