A Brief Look at Race and Crime in America

HomicideRatesCities250k Ron Unz
There is something curious and counter-intuitive about the above Ron Unz graph of US homicide “rates” (actually correlation coefficients) by race in cities above 250K population. The black correlation coefficients appear fairly close, and the Asian coefficients appear suitably low, but the placement of Hispanic murder coefficients below homicide coefficients of whites seems unlikely to anyone who follows the crime news.

If you review the series of crime correlation coefficient charts at Unz’ site you will notice the same curious very low crime coefficients for Hispanics, as compared to whites. Again, this is not what one expects if he follows the crime reports closely.

To resolve the discrepancy, we should look at the methodology that Ron Unz used to plot his graph:

My central methodology is simple. I obtained the crime rates and ethnic percentages of America’s larger cities from official government data sources and calculated the population-weighted cross-correlations. In order to minimize the impact of statistical outliers, I applied this same approach to hundreds of different datasets: each of the years 1985 through 2011; homicide rates, robbery rates, and violent crime overall; all large cities of 250,000 and above and also restricted only to major cities of at least 500,000. I obtained these urban crime correlations with respect to the percentages of local whites, blacks, and Hispanics, but excluded Asians since their numbers were quite insignificant until recently (here and throughout this article, “white” shall refer to non-Hispanic whites).

I also attempted to estimate these same results for the overall immigrant population. The overwhelming majority of immigrants since 1965 have been Hispanic or Asian while conversely the overwhelming majority of those two population groups have a relatively recent immigrant family background. So the combined population of Hispanics and Asians constitutes a good proxy for the immigrant community, and allows us to determine the immigrant relationship to crime rates. _Ron Unz Race and Crime in America

There is something odd about this methodology. Unz devised his method because in official government crime statistics, the racial categories of “white” and “Hispanic” are usually combined, making a total hash of most efforts to compare crime rates by race. Unz thought that by looking at the population makeup of cities, that he could get around this limitation, for comparing race correlations of several classes of crimes, including homicide.

In an earlier criticism of Unz’ methodology, Jason Richwine noted that Hispanic incarceration rates are significantly higher than white incarceration rates, suggesting greater criminality in Hispanics than whites. Richwine noted that Hispanic crime rates tend to go up with successive generations, after immigration.

Incarceration rates of Hispanics vs whites

Incarceration rates of Hispanics vs whites

… U.S.-born men of Mexican ancestry are 2.4 times more likely to be institutionalized compared to white men who are the same age and who live in the same state.

Overall, immigrant Hispanics are institutionalized at a slightly higher rate than whites, while the rate for U.S.-born Hispanics is roughly two and a half times higher than whites. Combine the generations together and we get an HDW of about 1.8, which can be expected to go up as more Hispanics are born in the U.S. _Jason Richwine

The numbers in the chart represent incarceration rates of various groups of Hispanics, as multiples of white incarceration rates.

In other words, Unz’ methodology appears to miss a significant amount of Hispanic crime.

The reason for this underestimate of Hispanic crime rests in Unz’ methodology itself: The fact that a crime occurred in a largely white area says nothing about the race of the perpetrator of that crime. Why would a non-white criminal travel outside his ethnic neighborhood to commit a crime in a white area — a crime that would be counted as a “white” crime in Unz’ correlation coefficient?

Consider the reason why bank robber Willie Sutton robbed banks: “Because that’s where the money is,” Sutton claimed. The best bank robbers do not travel to Haiti to get rich. They go to London, Paris, New York.

For analogous reasons, non-white criminals often travel to white neighborhoods and townships to pick up some fast cash: “That’s where the money is.” There is nothing to prevent a black or hispanic criminal from mugging a white person at an ATM in a white dominant area, for example. There is nothing to stop black or hispanic criminals from cruising white neighborhoods looking for a house to rob or invade, or looking for a likely person to rape. Blacks commit such out-of-their-own-ethnic-neighborhood crimes more often than Hispanics. Similarly Hispanics almost certainly do so at much higher rates than whites. Unz’ methodology would “account” for such crimes as “white crimes,” because they occurred in white dominant areas.

Another important point: A great deal of crime that takes place in immigrant and minority communities is never reported. Many immigrants originally came from high crime societies, where the police were as likely to be criminals as crime-stoppers. In addition, many immigrants are illegally in the country, and fear deportation if they come to the attention of authorities, by reporting a crime. For these and other reasons, immigrants and minorities often mistrust police and try not to involve authorities in their lives if they can avoid it.

Correlating crime rates to different ethnic population densities can be useful as a starting point. But such a preliminary “scan” is not a substitute for the actual numbers, properly categorized.

The best methodology for comparing crime rates by race is to keep accurate arrest and conviction statistics by race — but that is not seen as particularly politically correct by the powers in government, media, or academia. The alternatives — incarceration rates, correlation coefficients, victim sampling surveys, etc. all have serious weaknesses that must be faced.

We should understand that we are looking at statistics based upon assumptions, rather than real population crime rates. We the people cannot be trusted with those.

More: This may be a good time to revisit Steve Sailer’s classic article: Mapping the Unmentionable: Race and Crime.

Sailer provides several colorful US maps comparing incarceration rates between blacks, hispanics, and whites. According to Sailer’s article, the hispanic incarceration rates are around 2 to 2.5 times higher than the white incarceration rates, on average. Black incarceration rates are generally close to 9 times white rates, but can go as high as 30 times higher in Minnesota, and almost 60 times higher in D.C.

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3 Responses to A Brief Look at Race and Crime in America

  1. Matt Musson says:

    I guess using these assumptions we can extrapolate outward and get: White Man Made Global Warming!

  2. George S. says:

    La Griffe du Lion has already corroborated Unz’s claims about Hispanic crime:


    Also keep in mind that La Griffe did not distinguish between mestizo Hispanics and mulatto Hispanics, such as Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, who have some of the higher crime rates among “Hispanics.”

    Anecdotal evidence (“but I watch the evening news!”) doesn’t suffice in the face of hard data and analysis,

  3. alfin2101 says:

    Thanks for the link. But no, La Griffe contradicts Unz, giving a higher crime correlation for hispanics than for whites. Please read your link again to note this important distinction. Hispanic incarceration rates are significantly higher then white incarceration, which is a far more reliable statistic than correlation coefficients. When you claim that La Griffe corroborates Unz, you give the impression that you have not read the article you link. The closest thing to corroboration for Unz that La Griffe provides is when he predicts that hispanic crime rates will never climb to match crime rates for blacks.

    The criticism of methodology holds for La Griffe just as it does for Unz: Correlation coefficients are no substitute for rates such as arrest rates, conviction rates, and incarceration rates, for reasons given in the article above.. Unfortunately, the US government in its lard-headed wisdom chooses not to make these rates available.

    Hispanic incarceration rates increase with generations, the longer the family is in the US, an ominous long-term finding given immigration trends.

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