Monday, June 25, 2012

Correlates of crime

In Handbook of Crime Correlates, Lee Ellis and colleagues review hundreds of studies and summarize the results. Here are some interesting findings:

1. Thirty-two studies fail to find a clear difference between males and females in partner violence. Evidently women hit just as often; men just hit harder.

2. While police data show higher arrest rates for Hispanics and especially blacks compared to whites, self-reported crime differences are not consistent (322 studies). This is not really a problem. Self-report studies capture minor crime while arrest data taps more serious crime. Similar to the gender gap, whites, blacks, and Hispanics don't differ much on minor offenses. Clear differences emerge as crimes become more serious.

3. Seventy-eight self-report and arrest studies show unequivocally that American Indians (AIs) have higher crime rates than whites. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that since AIs have not lived under violence-suppressing states for as many centuries as other populations, they have not been "tamed" to the same extent.

4. Whites are more criminal than East Asians--at least according to police data (37 studies).

5. Crime rates of whites and South Asians do not differ signficantly (16 studies).

6. Oceanic Islanders are more criminal than whites (25 studies).

7. Areas with more taverns, liquor stores, and alcohol consumption have higher crime rates (26 studies).

8. Crime rates are higher in areas with more gambling and tourism establishments (11 studies).

9. Crime rates are higher in areas where religious membership is low (12 studies).

10. Regions closer to the equator have more crime (35 studies).

11. Later-borns are more criminal than first-borns (12 studies).

12. People with more friends are less criminal (25 studies).

13. Employed teens are more delinquent (19 studies).

14. Religious people are less criminal (112 studies).

15. People with orthodox religious beliefs are less criminal (18 studies).

16. Jews are less criminal than non-Jews (28 studies).

17. People with more sex partners are more criminal (39 studies).

18. Teens who have sex for the first time at younger ages are more delinquent (23 studies).

19. People who have more tolerant attitudes toward crime and drugs are more criminal (34 studies).

20.  People with defiant and rebellious attitudes are more criminal (46 studies).

Many of these findings make perfect sense to a social conservative.


  1. Great compilation. About the later borns being more criminal, the explanation seems fairly simple: failure to control for the number of children in a sibship. Obviously, more educated, conscientious people tend to have fewer children, which means a much smaller proportion of later-borns.

    Of course, the other way to look at it is from an r/K perspective.

  2. Black Death8:53 AM

    This was the only one that didn't make sense to me:

    13. Employed teens are more delinquent.

    Logically, it would seem that teens who are employed would have a better work ethic and less time available for mischief. Did you mean "unemployed"?

  3. Anonymous9:00 AM

    @ Black Death:

    That initially confused me as well, but, assuming it's NOT a typo, it could make sense: a kid who finally makes his own money feels like he's got it made, and with that income, will go out of his way to do stupid things to impress his friends and the girls

  4. Aeoli Pera12:36 PM

    Black Death and Anonymous,

    Are you living in SWPL bubbles? Poor teens generally seek employment early, and don't advance. This is especially true for those who drop out of high school.

    Today's "social conservatives" get confused by this stuff because their philosophy is so polluted by corporatism, wherein getting a job at McDonald's promotes work ethic somehow. Don't make me laugh.

  5. "Employed teens" is correct. The explanation that is usually given is less parental supervision and more money for drugs.

  6. "Employed teens" is correct. The explanation that is usually given is less parental supervision and more money for drugs.

    Or perhaps greater necessity? Teens who have wealthier parents don't need to work, and are perhaps less likely to. Those who have poorer parents may have to work to make ends meet. And being of the poorer classes, we see more crime.

  7. Seems like you should be able to contol the teen employment question by family SES. My suspicion is that, when controlled for SES, employed teens are LESS likely to be deliquent, for all the reasons mom and apple pie Americans would expect.

  8. Anonymous3:12 PM

    "16. Jews are less criminal than non-Jews (28 studies)."

    Wait, is this a literal Jew to Gentile comparison? In other words, are all non-Jews (Blacks, Whites, East Asians, etc) being lumped into a single category? What is the White Jewish rate as compared to the White Christian rate?That would be interesting.


  9. Syon's last question could be rephrased as "What is the White Jewish rate as compared to the White non-Hispanic Christian rate?" Otherwise....

    Isn't it funny though? We are "white non-Hispanic Gentiles". The term is so cumbersome as to not really admit of being said. Our identity is half-a-paragraph long.

    4. Whites are more criminal than East Asians--at least according to police data (37 studies).

    That may be, but better precision would result if we said "whites are more criminal than Northeast Asians". This chart (Rumbaut, Gonzales, Komaie, & Morgan, 2006) illustrates the dramatic differences in crime rates of young US-born males based on the countries their ancestors evolved in. Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia--quite criminal; China, Korea, Inda low.

    But this accords with your observation about latitude and crime.

  10. Jews are less criminal than non-Jews

    This is probably true for violent crimes but less so for the sort of financial criminal behavior engaged in by the likes of Bernie Madoff, Michael Milkin and Ivan Boesky.

  11. I looked at that incarceration chart. The mostly black Dominicans have a lower rate than the much whiter Cubans? What's up with that?

  12. With the Asians and Mexicans, I think it's important to note that for all groups, migrants have lower crime rates than native born of the same ethnic group, probably due to age structure (less very young individuals and so less age related offending) and slightly different personality qualities -

    Interestingly, in the above graph, Asians (of course including South East Asians and not just East Asians) equalize with Whites for crime rates, when considering only native born!

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