Friday, July 20, 2007

Race, Class, Crime IV: A reader asked about the relationship between race/family structure interaction and being arrested. Maybe the simplest way to look at how the impact of family structure varies by race is to list the percent ever arrested by the relevant combinations:

Percent ever arrested

Mother-only black males 32.4
Mother-only white males 23.4
Two-parent black males 24.9
Two-parent white males 17.0

Mother-only black females 11.1
Mother-only white females 5.7
Two-parent black females 4.4
Two-parent white females 3.7

Notice how white men from single parent families fare better than black men from two-parent homes. Research shows the same pattern for poverty: a famous study by Marvin Wolfgang showed that middle-income blacks were more criminal than low-income whites.

Not surprisingly, growing up in a two-parent home does help everyone, and according to these data, it helps black girls the most. Maybe dad is able to keep her away from bad boys (girls often become delinquent through the influence of boys).


  1. Anonymous10:17 AM

    Interesting. No interaction here. The female difference may be noise. There are probably not too many black female arrestees.

  2. Anonymous8:34 AM

    From what I hear, genes for antisocial behavior tend to express themselves in women through early pregnancy (sibs and relatives of antisocials tend to have a high incidence). Take a look at that.

  3. Anonymous7:50 AM

    I didn't know family arrangements made such a difference in arrest rates. Furthermore, the arrest rates by race are not hugely different once this is controlled for, and would be even less if income/employment would be added to the equation..


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