Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Is the unemployment-crime link stronger for blacks or whites? In his latest VDARE column, Steve Sailer writes that young, black men are more likely to cause trouble if unemployed compared to other groups. (This was not his main topic, but even his small points are food for thought). In my mind, it could go either way: unable to make a living, the young black man turns to crime while the young white guy sits in his parents' place playing with his new Playstation 3; or a white guy who doesn't have a job is, on average, more troubled and more likely to commit crimes than the unemployed black guy who lives in an envirnoment where not having a job is not that unusual.

I looked at General Social Survey males ages 18 to 22 and compared "active" and "inactive" blacks and whites--"active" means working part- or full-time or in school. Twenty-five percent of active whites report having been arrested compared to 45% of inactive whites. For blacks, arrest rates are 40% for actives and 50% for inactives. From these numbers (and we should view them with caution since the sample size is only 391) an inactive status differentiate whites in terms of criminal behavior more than it does blacks. As with all correlational research, the causal relationships here are difficult to identify. Based on these data, I would say that inactivity is a measure of certain personality traits (e.g., shiftlessness) that lead to crime, and the measure is more valid for whites than blacks.

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