Sunday, June 11, 2006

Maybe crime doesn't have squat to do with lack of education


Have many times have you heard the liberal bromide that education is the key to the crime problem (and a host of other social ills)? I have always been skeptical of this idea, and it is one of those things experts always say and seem to think it is so obvious that nobody needs to bother to demonstrate it. I know the criminological research literature quite well, and the only thing I have seen documented is that kids who dislike school and perform poorly are considerably more likely to be delinquents. This tells us more about the kid than it does his education. In macrolevel research, eduational variables are often not included (which tells us they don't matter) and they don't seem to have much impact when you do actually see them analyzed. I'll guarantee you that, compared to percent graduated from high school, percent black is ten times the predictor of homicide rates.

The graph above (from the GSS) shows a large, steady decline in high school dropouts in the past 3 decades (look at the red line). While crime has been trending downward over the last decade or so, it was on the increase during the 70s and remained at a high level during the 80s. You might counter that we must focus on high risk groups, not the general population, but the overall trend was the same for young blacks, for example: the percent not finishing high school dropped from the 30s to the teens over this same period of time. And the sharpest drop was in the 1970s, the decade that saw more crime, not less.

5 comments:

Half Sigma said...

I guess it's just easier to graduate from high school these days.

Kurt, Portland Oregon said...

Yes, the liberals say that a lack of education causes crime just like the say that poverty causes terrorism. Of course, none of the 9/11 terrorists came from a poor background, broken families, or any of the other "deprived" missfortune that the liberals wanted to believe was the cause of terrorism.

If the liberals are wrong about the causes of terrorism, is it not likely that they are wrong about the causes of crime as well?

Ron Guhname said...

Kurt: And that group recently arrested in Canada was anything but poor.

agnostic said...

You know, it's funny: I was wasting time this weekend watching something on VH1 about the worst moments in hip-hop history. One of them was about a white Canadian rapper from the early '90s called Snow -- all the commenters tore into him & Canadian rap b/c there are so few black people in Canada, how could they possibly get it right, etc. Which is all true.

But then what's the ethnic make-up of Canada in their minds when it comes to why Canada's crime rate is below ours? Well, surely race isn't a factor -- there are so many black people in Canada! (Paraphrase from _Bowling for Columbine_)

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