Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Race, class, and domestic violence

According to the conventional wisdom, blacks are more violent than whites because of poverty.  Researchers, who are supposed to get beyond the cliches, have rarely tested this idea, and it doesn't help that the relevant data is scarce.

The National Couples Survey asked married people (N = 1,181) if they had ever had a "physical argument." I limited the sample to respondents who had graduated high school--but who had gone no further--in order to eliminate variation in social class. Here are the percentages saying there has been physical fighting in the marriage:

Whites 10.9
Blacks 28.6*
Hispanics 23.2*
Asians 17.9
American Indians 20.0

* p < .05, two-tailed test, compared with whites.

Married blacks at the same level of education as whites are almost 3 times more likely to be violent. Hispanics are more than twice as likely. Sample sizes are so small, the Asian/white and Amerindian/white differences are not significant.


Anonymous said...

You know, that ratio, as in "blacks three times as likely to be violent," comes up in similar inquiries all the time. The DOJ's violent crime indices? Blacks three times as likely to commit criminal violence (though the ratio of black to white murder rates is somewhat higher).

Jim Bowery said...

Some inmates told Human Rights Watch that this pattern reflected an inmate rule, one that was strictly enforced: "only a black can turn out [rape] a black, and only a chicano can turn out a chicano."(215) Breaking this rule by sexually abusing someone of another race or ethnicity, with the exception of a white inmate, could lead to racial or ethnic unrest, as other members of the victim's group would retaliate against the perpetrator's group.

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