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The Review of Black Political Economy

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 133–152 | Cite as

Black-white differentials in crime rates

  • Samuel L. Myers
Articles

Conclusion

In this paper a choice-theoretic model of participation in crime is adopted to capture some of the conventional explanations for why Blacks have higher crime rates than whites. Naively, the controversial proposition that higher black crimes rates are illusory is eschewed. Instead, it is assumed for expository purposes that Blacks really are more criminal than whites.

Keywords

Time Serve Wage Rate Criminal Justice System Crime Rate Black Political Economy 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    M. A. Forslund, “A Comparison of Negro and White Crime Rates,”Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science, 61 (1970): 214–217; M. E. Wolfgang and B. Cohen,Crime and Race, Conceptions and Misconceptions (New York: Institute of Human Relations Press, 1970).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    M. Hindelang, “Race and Involvement in Common Law Personal Crime,”American Sociological Review, 43 (1978): 93–100; R. McNeeley and C. Pope, “Race and Involvement in Common Law Personal Crime: A Response to Hindelang,”The Review of Black Political Economy, 8 (1978): 405-410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    E. H. Sutherland,On Analyzing Crime (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973); D. Moynihan, “The Negro Family: A Case for National Action,” in Lee Rainwater and William L. Yancey, eds.,The Moynihan Report and the Politics of Controversy (Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1967); E. Banfield,The Unheavenly City (Boston: Little, Brown, 1970); W. B. Miller, “Lower Class Culture as a Generating Milieu of Gang Delinquency,”Journal of Social Issues, 14 (1958): 5-19.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    These views were advanced, respectively, by R. K. Merton,Social Theory and Social Structure, Rev. edition (Glencoe, IL: The Free Press, 1967); M. Piore, “Public and Private Responsibilities in On-the-Job Training of Disadvantaged Workers,” De-partment of Economics Working Paper, (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 1968); I. Ehrlich, “Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation,”The Journal of Political Economy, 81 (1973): 521-565.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    G. S. Becker, “Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach,”The Journal of Political Economy, 76 (1968): 169–217; I. Ehrlich, “Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation,”The Journal of Political Economy, 81 (1973): 521-565; M. Block and J. Heineke, “A Labor Theoretic Analysis of Criminal Choice,”American Economic Review, 65 (1975): 314-325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    A detailed proof is found in S. L. Myers, Jr., “Labor Market Discrimination and Racial Differences in Participation in Crime,” presented at the European Meetings of the Econometric Society, Geneva, Switzerland, September 5–8, 1978. Here no attempt is made to conceptually distinguish between the deterrent and rehabilitation effects of punishment. The deterrent effect can be thought of as the impact of a change in expected punishment on decisions today. The rehabilitative effect can be thought of as the impact of a change in actual punishment today on the punished person’s decisions tomorrow. In a sense, then, rehabilitation is future deterrence. In a continuous time model it becomes difficult to make this fine distinction without explicitly adopting a closed loop formulation. Obviously, incapacitation effects are ignored in the open loop formulation, although the results in this paper do not depend at all upon the distinction between rehabilitative and deterrent effects. For a discrete open loop feedback formulation that distinguishes among the incapacitation, rehabilitation, and deterrent effects of punishment, see S. L. Myers, “The Rehabilitation Effect of Punishment,”Economic Inquiry, forthcoming, 1979.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    S. L. Myers, Jr., “Labor Market Discrimination and Racial Differences in Participation in Crime,” pp. 14-15.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    These results differ in two respects from those reported in my paper “The Incidence of Justice,” in C. M. Gray, ed.,The Costs of Crime (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1979). First of all, results of this paper are based on a three year follow-up whereas the previous work analyses a one year follow-up. Second, the conceptual experiment performed was to treat Blacks as whites and whites as Blacks. The crime rates diverged dramatically with whites becoming significantly more criminal than Blacks.Google Scholar

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© Springer 1980

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  • Samuel L. Myers

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