Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Demographics cloud optimism on African-American violent crime decrease

Date:
March 28, 2011
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Optimism about studies that show a drop in the African-American percentage of crime may be dampened by demographic trends and statistical aberrations, according to a group of criminologists.

Optimism about studies that show a drop in the African-American percentage of crime may be dampened by demographic trends and statistical aberrations, according to a group of criminologists.

The rise in the U.S. Hispanic population and the sharp jump in black violent crime during the late 1980s and early 1990s may skew statistics from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports and the National Crime Victimization Survey that appear to show a recent drop in black violence, said Darrell Steffensmeier, professor, sociology, and crime, law and justice, Penn State.

The researchers, who released their findings in the current issue of Criminology, indicated that studies on black violent crime -- a crime that involves force or the threat of force -- often fail to account for the rise in the number of Hispanics in the U.S. Since there is no Hispanic category in the UCR and approximately 93 percent of Hispanics identify themselves, or are identified by law enforcement officers, as white, most arrests of Hispanics are added to white violent crime rates.

"The result is that the violent crime rates for whites are inflated and the black rates are deflated in these studies," said Steffensmeier, who worked with Jeffrey T. Ulmer, associate professor, and Casey T. Harris, graduate student, both in sociology and crime, law and justice, Penn State and Ben Feldmeyer, assistant professor, University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

When the researchers adjusted for the Hispanic effect, there was little overall change in the black percentage of violent crime, said Steffensmeier.

Using arrest statistics from 1980 to 2008 in California and New York, two states that include a Hispanic category, the recalculated national figures indicated that the black percentage of assault increased slightly from 42 percent to 44 percent and homicide increased from 57 percent to 65 percent. There was a small decline in robbery, from 57 percent to 54 percent.

"It is the case that violent crime rates are lower today for blacks, as they also are for other race groupings, but the black percentage of violent crime is about the same today as in 1980," Steffensmeier said.

According to Steffensmeier, studies that purport to show declines in black violent crimes may also rely on timelines that are too short to be effective. For instance, studies that start in the late 1980s and 1990s cover a period of rapid increase in black violent crime fueled by crack cocaine use in the inner cities. According to Steffensmeier, the recent decrease is more likely a return to average crime rates.

"A study that uses statistics from a short time period can lead to a regression to the mean effect," said Steffensmeier. "Which basically means, when a trend rises quickly, it can fall just as quickly."

Some researchers have suggested that the improving trend in black violent crime indicates that African-Americans are experiencing better social standing in the U.S. Steffensmeier said that black progress may not be as pronounced or as broad.

"There may be a growing affluent black middle class, but at the same time, the black underclass appears to have become even more disenfranchised and more segregated from the rest of society," said Steffensmeier.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Darrell Steffensmeier, Ben Feldmeyer, Casey T. Harris, Jeffery T. Ulmer. Reassessing Trends in Black Violent Crime, 1980-2008: Sorting out the 'Hispanic Effect' in Uniform Crime Reports Arrests, National Crime Victimization Survey Offender Estimates, and U.S. Prisoner Counts. Criminology, 2011; 49 (1): 197 DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2010.00222.x

Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Demographics cloud optimism on African-American violent crime decrease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110328101607.htm>.
Penn State. (2011, March 28). Demographics cloud optimism on African-American violent crime decrease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110328101607.htm
Penn State. "Demographics cloud optimism on African-American violent crime decrease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110328101607.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Escaping Email: Inspired Vision or Pipe Dream?

Escaping Email: Inspired Vision or Pipe Dream?

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) Dustin Moskovitz is plotting an escape from email, using his communications expertise in an attempt to change the way people connect at work, where the incessant drumbeat of email has become an excruciating annoyance. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Emory Prepares to Treat American Ebola Cases

Emory Prepares to Treat American Ebola Cases

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) Plans are underway to bring back the two American aid workers sick with Ebola from Africa. The U.S. State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are helping to arrange the evacuation. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) Greenpeace's ship Arctic Sunrise, held in custody by the Russian authorities since September last year, has departed the Russian city of Murmansk en route for its home port of Amsterdam. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct

US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) U.S. employers extended their hiring surge into July by adding a solid 209,000 jobs. It was the sixth straight month of job growth above 200,000, evidence that businesses are gradually shedding the caution that had marked the 5-year-old recovery. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins