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Friday, June 30, 2006

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Blissex

«First, increased unemployment rates are associated with increased crime. Second, the greater the proportion of children in care (our proxy for ‘social deprivation’), the greater the crime rate. These results are remarkably consistent and robust to various estimation methods.»

This reminds me of an important insight expressed by Bruce Schneider, a computer security guy, in explaining the broad context of computer security:

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.06/secure_spc_pr.html

«The street you live on matters more than the lock on your front door. Knowing your neighbors is more important than knowing karate.

And in both the real and virtual world, nothing improves security more than gentrification.»

and this study seems to support that, not that it is needed, because there is overwhelming historical and statistical evidence anyhow.

But then I suspect that for some category of people, those with a dixie mindset, improving safety long term with gentrification is a lot less enjoyable and electorally rewarding than the alternative pauperization and brutality strategy.

Harry Clarke

I did a bit of a survey of the Donoghue Levitt study here and recant my earlier support for it here.

The Australian data is pretty hopeless for doing careful tests. I suspect that in Australia simpler things explain the reduction in crime like the improving economy and population aging. For the UK I guess that population aging would be important - fewer young men aged around 20 to commit burgalries.

Always enjoy this blogsite.

Blissex

BTW, one of the common points made on the Leavitt story is that like much else crime in the USA has two rather different sets of statistics for African Americans and everybody else, and that in particular most violent crime is involves crimes committed on African American by other African Americans, and that the main effect of easier, cheaper abortion has been on that.

«The Australian data is pretty hopeless for doing careful tests.»

Perhaps it is hard to draw conclusions also because the australian background is more uniform...


One of the interesting questions I often ask myself is how do the crime etc. statistics of African Americans descended from slaves compare to those of African American of recent immigration. Part of the interest is that both categories look the same to other Americans (that is, probably get discriminated the same)...

Sitting in Hiding

@Blissex:

Along similar lines, I'd really like to know if there's any corelation between the origin ares of high crime rate subsectors of the US black population and the areas of Africa that haven't quite made it to modernity. It would be very interesting to do some geneological and/or genetic tracing to determine if the high crime subsectors in the US ultimately originated from--say--coastal Nigeria. It's very unfortunate that both shallow political correctness and the foul legacy of eugenics have made research into possible deep cultural (or genetic) origins for crime and civil disorder.

Sitting in Hiding

Last sentance should read:

It's very unfortunate that both shallow political correctness and the foul legacy of eugenics have made research into possible deep cultural (or genetic) origins for crime and civil disorder impossible.

Arthur Eckart

U.S. firms that discriminate only because of race would find themselves at competitive disadvantages. Consequently, those firms would eventually be out of business. There are other factors involved, which may seem racist. There could be disagreements over values or non-conformist behavior. In the 2000 election, 92% of African-Americans voted for the Democrat Al Gore. It seems, African-Americans are generally far to the left, while the country as a whole is slightly to the right. So, to conclude economic or political disagreements are racist would be shallow.

Steve Sailer

A couple of readers asked about relations between subsectors of African-Americans and regions of origin in Africa. Generally speaking, African-Americans are relatively blended and can't trace their communities back to particular tribes in Africa. The best known exception might be the Gullah-dialect speakers of the Sea Islands of the Southeast, who retain a distinctly African accent, but they are closer to the exception that proves the rule that African-Americans have multiple tribal heritages.

In contrast, tribal self-awareness lasted longer in the West Indies. When the African-American novelist Zora Neale Hurston, who had studied anthropology under Franz Boas, visited the Caribbean in the 1930s, locals were always telling her things like, "Oh, she's an Ibo, they're all like that."

One theory for the prosperity, high education level, and general pleasantness of Barbados compared to Jamaica is that, as the Easternmost island, slave ships docked their first, and the plantation owners had their pick of the new slaves. They were said to prefer slaves from tribes known for their cooperativeness. The rejects from the more obstreperous tribes were then sent on to Jamaica and America.

Steve Sailer

By the way, as the original critic of Steven Levitt's abortion-cut-crime theory, I wouldn't be surprised if it actually turned out to be true in some countries. It just doesn't seem to have happened in America, judging by the extremely high violent crime rate as teenagers of the first generation born after the legalization of abortion.

Levitt cites European studies showing that women who had abortions would have made worse mothers. He doesn't cite any American studies, because they tended to show the opposite: more organized, future-oriented pregnant single women were more likely to have abortions. I suspect that legalizing abortion hollowed out the African-American middle class, while having little effect on the birthrates of the underclass.

For more details, see my 1999 debate with Levitt in Slate.com:

http://www.slate.com/id/33569/entry/33571/

And my 2005 update:

http://www.isteve.com/Freakonomics_Fiasco.htm

Arthur Eckart

Steve, has a study shown children of fatherless families commit more violent crimes? There's also a structural break between the 1965-82 period and the 1983-00 period, i.e. the difference between a baby-bust generation and a baby boom generation, and adjusted for lags. It makes sense there's an inverse relationship between abortion rates and crime rates, since there would be fewer people to commit crimes, ceteris paribus. Did you find anything else of significance? Also, your statement "More organized, future-oriented pregnant single women were more likely to have abortions" sounds like a contradiction. Perhaps, you're citing breakups between couples or ignorance. However, it seems, women would know abortion is an option and make that choice if necessary. I'm sure there's a religous component also, which may not necessarily support your statement.

Blissex

«One theory for the prosperity, high education level, and general pleasantness of Barbados compared to Jamaica is that, as the Easternmost island, slave ships docked their first, and the plantation owners had their pick of the new slaves. They were said to prefer slaves from tribes known for their cooperativeness. The rejects from the more obstreperous tribes were then sent on to Jamaica and America.»

That sounds a bit funny (to say the least) to me...

I would suspect that part of the reasons for which the african-american in the USA are so wretched is both a longer period of brutalization and the continuing spite by their former masters. Segregation only ended 30-40 years ago after all, and spite did not end then.

Barbados used to be a nice british colony, and english abolition of the slave trade and slavery was fairly early; also slavery in Barbados was mostly white in the beginning:

http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbados#History
«As well, in 1659, the English shipped many Irishmen and Scots off to Barbados as slaves.»
«The modern descendants of this original slave population are sometimes derisively referred to as Red Legs,»
«Barbados turned from mainly Celtic in the 17th century to overwhelmingly black by the 20th century.»

Jamaica by contrast was colonized by the spanish, who exterminated the natives and started importing african slaves pretty early:

http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Jamaica#Prehistory_and_Discovery
«Spain brought the first African slaves to Jamaica in 1517.»

The same page notes that three centuries of brutalization followed:

«The colony's slaves, who outnumbered their white masters 300,000 to 30,000 in 1800, mounted over a dozen major slave conspiracies and uprisings between 1673 and 1832.»

Very different histories... (BTW if a light moment is allowed when talking about bad things like slavery, celtic peoples are still called ''red legs'' in many sunny tourist areas :->).

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