Having the privilege (read: burden) of posting on a platform with such an enthusiastic and vocal user base, Tumblr has truly given me the opportunity to answer questions at the level of a graduate economics students to questions to those who have never heard of the study. I’ll be sharing my experiences here. Feel free to send me questions on Tumblr or follow up questions on articles.
This time, I was asked about crime rates in regards to certain races being more prone to violent crime.
While the rhetoric used here is repelling, there is a nominal truth to the statement. If you simply look at race and instances of crime, you will see a Blacks takes up a larger percentage of arrests for violence crime than they do the total population. Black Americans account for 38.5% of violent crime arrests, yet only 13.2% of the population. This data is frequently used to reinforce racial stereotypes and racial discrimination.
However there is a multitude of other factors being ignored; the first being geographical distribution. The vast majority of crime occurs in metropolitan our immediate outlying areas. 409.4 instances per 100,000 residents in metropolitan areas versus 177.0 instances per 100,000 in nonmetropolitan counties.
Victimization rates of crime also rise the lower the income of the victim and typically the victim knows the assailant. This isn't to say that the poor are criminals. In non-metropolitan areas the arrest rate for black Americans is 13.5%, only .3% above their total percentage of the population; hardly something to justify racial discrimination.
With the knowledge that most criminals target someone they know, are within urban areas and are likely in poverty, we can see that there's plenty of other factors that contribute to criminal opportunities, yet no clear motives can be derived; and that's an important take-away.
Despite all the statistics one could pour over for days, what should be recognized is that these statistics represent individuals. Individuals each with their own motives and innumerable variables impacting their decisions.