January 7, 2008

Sailer in VDARE: "Why Hasn't Crime Fallen Further?"

Here's an excerpt from my new VDARE.com column "Why Hasn't Crime Fallen Further?"

This 19-year-old idiot's criminal career (now on ice for a loooong time) reminded me that the real sociological mystery is not why the crime rate came down after its crack-driven peak in the early 1990s (when, for example, New York City alone experienced over 4,000 murders in just 1990-1991), but—why it hasn't fallen farther?

According to the FBI, the number of homicides dropped sharply from 1992-1999, but has gone up slightly since then.

It's traditionally said that crime doesn't pay. That's not necessarily true for organized criminals. But it's becoming ever truer for run-of-the-mill disorganized criminals.

Think how easy it was to steal stuff back when crime was just starting to boom in the mid-1960s. In those innocent days, many folks not only parked their cars unlocked in their driveways overnight, for example, but left their car keys in the ignition! You could pursue a lucrative career in auto theft just by climbing into random cars and driving them away.

One of my earliest memories of reading the news in the mid-1960s is of all the articles warning citizens to start taking their car keys with them. But even when that lesson sunk in, many people still didn't lock their cars. A common memory of my boyhood is my father and I seeing a parked car with its headlights left on, so he'd open the car door and switch them off before the battery drained down. In that trusting era, thieves merely had to hotwire the ignition.

And even if they got caught, punishment was light back in those naively liberal days. Indeed, the imprisonment rate was lower in 1975 than in 1960, although the murder rate had more than doubled.

In response, owners began to lock their cars. Since my childhood, I've tried a few dozen times to turn off the headlights of strangers' cars, but the last time the car turned out be open was 1972. And automakers began armor plating the ignition system, and then adding steering wheel locking systems.

As it became harder for crooks to steal cars in toto, they started smashing the windows and prying out the expensive new 8-Track stereos. This set off a defensive arms race to harden the target that is still going on. Ultimately, though, electronic in-dash gizmos got so cheap that these days it really isn't worth fighting past all the defenses just to sell the loot to a fence for a small fraction of its heavily discounted retail price. [More]

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Evil Neocon said...

After reading Dalrymple's "Life at the Bottom" I am more agreeable to his argument that culture, and a belief in right and wrong, makes a great deal of difference.

Legalism and fear of the law only takes a society so far. It begins to break down when there is no shared belief in right and wrong, is his argument. He makes a compelling case.

RKU said...

Look, this is just total nonsense! Let's consider a few details.

(1) Steve lives in Los Angeles, and grew up there as well.

(2) Back when Steve was young, LA was almost 90% white and had very few immigrants. Today, LA is almost 90% non-white, and is very, very heavily immigrant.

(3) During 2006, LA's serious crime rate fell to its lowest level in FIFTY years, matching the record set in 1956, when LA was the greatest suburban paradise of the Golden State. Then, during 2007, LA serious crime dropped *another* 7 points, so that it's now (I think) the lowest ever recorded in LA city history. The murder rate is also down to a forty-year low or something.

(4) Very similar crime patterns can be observed in nearly all of America's other most heavily immigrant/Latin major cities such as Anaheim, Santa Ana, and El Paso.

I'm certainly not arguing that there are no complicating factors in these comparisons, e.g. imprisonment rates are indeed enormously higher than in the 1950s. But for Steve to be *living* in Los Angeles, and never even mention the astonishing low crime rates is just silly.

The whole thing is the mirror-image of some lunatic leftist living in the center of bombed-out Detroit writing a column about the wondrous urban renaissance produced by ethnic "diversity" while AK-47's are firing away in the background...

Bill said...

Interesting about the locked doors thing. I learned before I could even drive about thieves, having nearly lost my bicycle on numerous occasions. Once I caught a couple of guys comically arguing over who was going to steal my bike, each saying he had seen it first. Needless to say, I was not amused at the time.

I have always meticulously locked every door and window to the house, but I don't even bother locking car doors anymore -- they just smash the window if I do and I'd rather just clean the contents of the glove compartment off the floor in the morning.

Perhaps this sounds strange to some people, but I have to secure my garbage and recycling. Credit card fraud and ID theft is often a result of people pilfering credit card offers and other junk mail from the trash. I also have to deal with people casing the neighborhood with their "help a young brother out" scams. I've had guys built like Mike Tyson show up at my door asking for money!

One young woman got carjacked outside my place at night (the guy took off with her baby) and ran to my house for help, so I had to let her in and sit there with a .45 waiting for the cops to show up to protect her.

This 60s idyllic existence doesn't even seem real to me. If it's true it was that good, somebody really blew it.

As for the drop in crime, the demographics will begin to reverse the progress in that direction soon. And just today, I heard Obama suggest he will work to change the racial disparity in imprisonment rates. I'm not sure exactly what he has in mind, but I don't think we can afford to put enough white men in jail to achieve parity, so I assume he intends to let the hoods back out.

Steve Sailer said...


One obvious change from Raymond Chandler's LA is that there is close to zero major crime committed by whites in Los Angeles these days because the white criminal class has been driven out of town by the high cost of living. Check out the LA Times' Homicide Blog, which tells you the race of the victims (but not the killers): you can see that murder in LA is something that happens among Latinos and blacks, not whites or Asians:


The main exceptions are immigrants from the ex-Soviet Union and Middle East, who commit most of the Tarantinoish crimes.

Joe Wambaugh's 2006 novel "Hollywood Station" gets the demographics of white criminals in LA right -- one of the three white villains in the book is an aging white meth-head whom Wambaugh explains at length inherited his house from his mother, and the other two are an Armenian crook and his Russian prostitute girlfriend. See my review at:


Steve Sailer said...

From my review of Wambaugh's novel:

As land prices in LA have reached absurd levels, the traditional demographic sources of criminals find themselves under economic pressure. LA's once expansive black community is increasingly squeezed into a sliver between the irresistible force of the Hispanic influx from East LA and the immoveable object of the wealthy white-Asian beach suburbs. As a result, many blacks have decamped to the exurbs or Atlanta.

In the last couple of years, even this local Latino illegal immigration tidal wave has apparently finally started to peter out as the Mexicans and Central Americans have fanned out toward the rest of the country looking for higher wages and lower living costs.

Increasingly visible in LA today is a broad group of immigrants better able to withstand the expense: white men with deep, gruff accents, often sporting gold chains, from the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.

The good news is that LA doesn't have a lot of fundamentalist Muslims … so far. LA's white immigrants from Western Asia have seldom been from the Muslim masses. Instead, they are more often from minorities rather exotic even in that part of the world. ...

Patriarchal family discipline means these new immigrants can pack three or four generations, plus some in-laws and cousins, into a single-family home until their strong small business skills let them strike it rich. And the contempt for the law they learned in the crooked dictatorships back home means that they often pay little attention to costly nuisances like taxes and regulations. Immigrant solidarity and strong family loyalties ensure that, like the Sicilians before them, if they turn to organized crime, they're good at it.

Color of Crime said...


I call it ethnic thermodynamics. The combining of multiple cultures -- in this case Hispanic and Euro-centric American -- is resulting in a culture that reflects the criminal character of Latin America.

Even if WSJ were correct -- and it isn't -- the absence of the criminal immigration culture would still result in a decrease in crime. Without the Hispanic infusion, the crime statics would be dramatically lower.


Steve Sailer said...

By the way, the Peace Corps lady was stabbed two blocks from your old high school.

RobertHume said...

Don't forget the effects of declining lead on intelligence. Rick Nevin has published extensively on this. Here's a reference you have to pay to get Environmental Research Section A 83, 1-22 (2000) available online at www.idealibrary.com. He has follow on articles in the same journal. Here's a reference also to a good article by a reporter: www.washingtonian.com/articles/health/5485.html

So there are several effects. Younger natives will have lower crime rates than older natives had due to low lead. Recent immigrants from the Mexican countryside may have lower lead levels due to less lead in the air in their home areas. I don't know what the time-sequence of removing lead from gasoline in Mexico is compared to in the US. That should be factored in for immigrants from large cities in Mexico. It's probably a complicated story to get absolutely right.

Obviously there are differences between the races. Hispanics, blacks, and whites born in the US since lead levels have been low have different crime rates... probably not much due to flaking paint or lead in water. But even there there may be some effect.

James B. Shearer said...

It is a bit misleading to just graph homicides without adjusting for the doubling of population since 1950.

Anonymous said...

"I heard Obama suggest he will work to change the racial disparity in imprisonment rates. I'm not sure exactly what he has in mind, but I don't think we can afford to put enough white men in jail to achieve parity, so I assume he intends to let the hoods back out."

Not to go too off-topic here, but I just read this piece on Obama's political start:

I find the concept of a President Obama increasingly frightening.

Ron Guhname said...


You weren't trying to list every precaution that people now take, but just to remind everyone, people are more careful about avoiding certain places than they used to be. People stay home more, behind locked doors and barred windows. Women, children, the elderly--everyone, really--are less likely to walk alone. Children do not roam free unsupervised like they used to. They're indoors all the time playing video games now. When I was 8-9 years old, my friends and I used to wander in the hills all summer. If we were all behaving like that now, the crime rate would certainly be higher.

All these precautions are a heavy price indeed, and some of it is caused by Hispanic immigration. Twenty-five years ago, we didn't even have 100,000 gangbangers in the country. Now we have one million, and most of the explosion is due to Mexican immigration.

Concerned Netizen said...


Don't you read your own writing? " e.g. imprisonment rates are indeed enormously higher than in the 1950s."

Bingo...in order get blacks & Latins to act nice and get a low crime rate, you've got to put a higher percentage of their young blokes in jail than you do whites or Asians.


The big news on my local NPR station this morning was that crime rates in New York City have dropped hugely, more so than in other major cities -- but there's a major exception. Police have recorded a rise in muggings in certain areas.

Illegal aliens who carry cash are being mugged. Of course, nothing in the report about the color or nationality of criminals, or whether they themselves are legal.

My hunch is that it’s native born blacks bashing illegals and that the real incidence of this is hugely underreported because most of the time the latter are too scared to go to the cops & complain.

jody said...

i have such a hard time believing crime is at an all-time low in LA. i doesn't seem like that at all. i dated a mexican woman from LA and it was dangerous there - mexicans even robbed her car at night while it was parked in her own driveway.

if you look at the LA murder map:


it's all mexican. half of the "white" people are not white at all, but people from people from asia and the middle east.

and the FBI most wanted list:


pretty much says it all.

there's just NO WAY border jumpers make crime go down. it can only be a case of black americans being pushed out by mestizos.

i note that "west coast rap" and LA gangster rap has been totally wiped out by mexicans - only 15 years after peaking in the mid 90s.

John, UK said...

A common theme in these posts is reference to the "crime rate" and attempting to explain why it has apparently fallen, but are we sure that figures from the 60’s can be compared with today’s data. Most certainly here in the UK they can’t.

The police force (now officially renamed by political correctness as the police service) has stepped back from enforcing laws against the criminal poor, and concentrates on attacking middle class motorists who are able to generate revenue via fines for their non-criminal offences.

Police attendance at reported crime incidents is becoming increasingly rare to the extent that many crimes are only reported to secure a “crime number”, a requirement of property insurance policies. As a result, as the police step back from criminality, only those citizens with insurance requiring a crime number bother to make official reports.

It is often argued that homicide statistics more closely reflect the true crime rate because all homicides are reported. However, our devious politicians have countered this by re-classing increasing numbers of murders not as homicide, but as manslaughter, a lesser crime which makes the figures look better.

I find it impossible to believe that similar massaging of the data isn’t also happening in the USA. So before debating the question, “Why are crime rates falling?” we should first ask, “Why are our lying governments telling us that crime rates are falling when the evidence of our own eyes proves the opposite.”

RKU said...

Concerned netizen:

Bingo...in order get blacks & Latins to act nice and get a low crime rate, you've got to put a higher percentage of their young blokes in jail than you do whites or Asians.

Well, let's consider gigantic California, almost as large as Texas and New York combined, and very heavily Latino/immigrant.

If you look at the Latino imprisonment rates on an age-adjusted basis, they're roughly the same as the white rates. This, despite the fact that the Latinos are currently much poorer.

I'm pretty sure that this approximate pattern also holds in most other parts of the country.

Really, this is a particular subject-area in which I'm not a total ignoramus...

jody said...

rku, you better have a link, because there is just NO WAY that mestizos are sent to prison at a rate equal to europeans. the california prison system is pretty much a mexican prison system today.

i lived in las vegas for 4 years and got hit twice by border jumpers without licenses or insurance. thanks to that, i had to go to the LV courthouse twice and it is mexico down there. MEXICO. not europe. white clerks, white lawyers, white judges, mestizo criminals. this is what i saw, overwhelmingly both times. LV is not 70% mexican, just the criminals.

again, i have to wonder how the LA data can even be possible without it being a simple case of the black american crime rate having been eliminated due to black americans not even being around anymore.

next we'll be hearing that mexicans make the high school graduation rate go up in previously all black high schools and how it's great that 60% of kids graduate instead of 40%.

jody said...

another problem is that border jumpers, regardless of how american indian they are, get counted as "white" in lots of police data, for instance, the FBI counts mestizos as "white" even if they are practically full blooded american indians.

this problem is not limited to mestizos of course. police data puts lots of people in the "white" category now. i suspect that every single 9/11 terrorist was "white" according to the FBI.

the actual crime rate of europeans is lower than the data say. this effect also skews the census data - the US is less european than the census says.

pjgoober said...

Here is one point of Steve's that is proven. We are not just talking theory here: From Ruben Rumbaut and Alberto G. Gonzalez et al. of UC Irvine: "the question of what happens to immigrant men over time in the United States was explored.

For every group without exception, the longer immigrants had resided in the United States, the higher were their incarceration rates (see Table 3)."
-Debunking the Myth of Immigrant Criminality

desmond jones said...

Rubenstein addresses the issue.

"Immigrant gateway cities are places where Hispanic immigrants have displaced blacks as the largest minority. One would expect, based on national victimization surveys and incarceration rates showing that blacks commit violent crimes at far higher rates than either non-Hispanic whites or Hispanics—to see crime rates fall as Hispanics move in.

And they have.

But this begs the question of Hispanic criminality per se. It’s clear, based on national incarceration data [William J. Sabol, Heather Couture, and Paige M. Harrison, "Prisoners in 2006," Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, December 2007. Appendix tables 7 and 8. PDF], that Hispanics are far more likely to be in prison than non-Hispanic whites.

In 2004 (latest available data) there were 290,500 Hispanic males in state or federal correctional facilities. That’s an incarceration rate of 1,281 per 100,000 population.

The black incarceration rate—3,042 per 100,000—was 2.9-times the Hispanic rate and 6.9-times the white rate.

The incarceration rate for non-Hispanic white males was 487 per 100,000—far less than half the Hispanic rate."


Anonymous said...

"I heard Obama suggest he will work to change the racial disparity in imprisonment rates. I'm not sure exactly what he has in mind, but I don't think we can afford to put enough white men in jail to achieve parity, so I assume he intends to let the hoods back out."

More whites in jail, I imagine. Look out all you successful businessmen, you could end up in jail.

Anonymous said...

Heh, when Obama and his crowd win the executive branch, look for the crime rate to go up as they release criminals from jail to redress the racial imbalance.

Perhaps they will also put more whites and some of those asians in jail as well.

RKU said...

Well, I'm not sure I can cover every single point made against me, but I'll give some of them a try:

(1) It's certainly reasonable to be skeptical of whether "crime" statistics remain comparable over decades, which is why the homicide rate is a useful validator (I've never heard anyone claim its definition in the U.S. has changed). Note that the homidate rate in LA has now fallen to a forty-year low, having approximately tracked the serious crime rate, which is at a fifty-plus year low. Also, there's no reason to believe that the definition of "serious crime" has changed much in LA during the last decade or so, during which the rates plummeted.

(2) I'm not a huge "links person," but you can go into Wikipedia for the table showing crime rates of large American cities http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_cities_by_crime_rate
You'll notice the the cities which tend to cluster at the bottom, with the lowest crime/murder rates, tend to be the ones with the highest Latino/immigrant concentrations. For example, El Paso, TX is the most heavily Latino/immigrant city in America, and its almost at the bottom. Same for lots of other very heavily Lation/immigrant cities. On a very casual level, note that seven of the ten safest cities are either in Texas or California. Interesting pattern...

(3) The CA imprisonment statistics are contained in various reports by PPIC and other non-partisan organizations, which can be found on the web, and I looked them up when I was in a dispute with some people on this exact issue a year or two ago. The crucial factor to remember is that I'm talking about *age-adjusted* crime/imprisonment statistics. Basically, whites in CA or the US have a very different age-distribution curve than Latinos, who are a much younger population peaked in the prime-crime years (say 15-40). Once you factor that out, the Latino imprisonment rate in CA becomes something like 15% above the white rate (while the black rate remains something like 600%(?) higher). And don't forget that CA Latinos are currently much, much poorer than whites.

(4) It's certainly true that America has a pretty stupid "racial" classification system, in which blond blue-eyed Argentines are "non-white" while dark-skinned Saudi 9/11 hijackers are assumed to have come over on the Mayflower. But given all the federal/state laws, I'd be really surprised if the ethnic imprisonment statistics aren't accurate, at least relative to that stupid system.

(5) On the anecdotal level, I've lived for the last twenty years in areas which were either very heavily immigrant/Latino or had a very heavy concentration of immigrant/Latino workers, and all these low-crime statistics seem perfectly plausible to me.

One final point. VDare.com obviously isn't fanatically pro-Latino/pro-immigrant, and is always desperately looking around for stories highlighting Latino/immigrant criminality. It seems to me that almost all the ones they can ever find are basically young drunk-drivers who get into fatal traffic accidents, hardly the best examples of "dangerous criminality." Maybe you should ask yourselves why they can't find any "juicier" ones.

pjgoober said...

RKU, 1) People don't experience age-adjusted crime, they just have straight unadjusted crime happen to them. The hispanic birthrate has been increasing lately. No one knows when hispanic fertility will drop to the US average, thus keeping average hispanic age lower, so this is still one point against hispanic immigration.

2) you say your figures are age-adjusted, but are they generation adjusted? It is well acknowledged that the crime rate in immigrants children and grandchildren goes up (8X higher incarceration rate from Mexican 1st to 2nd generation according to the Rumbaut/Gonzalez link i posted above). The incarceration rate for hispanic 20 year olds is driven down a lot by 20 year old immigrants. Also, it is well documented that even the immigrant's incarceration rate goes up with time in the country (see Rumbaut/Gonzalez). So even if we somehow expected Hispanic average age to soon converge to the US average, all would still not OK. The incarceration rate of generations after the first matter far more in the long run.
Even if Steve is wrong that current immigrant crime rates are higher than they are currently reported as, he is right that we face a temporary lull in the storm. As hispanic average generation in the country increases, we will face a huge problem in the future.

Here is this quote from Wash. Times "Hispanic Growth Surge Fueled by Births in U.S.":
"In another contrast to the 1990s, births have overtaken immigration this decade as the largest source of Hispanic growth."

At current immigration rates, hispanic births will ever increase as a percentage of hispanic population growth, and thus hispanic incarceration rates should ever increase. I suppose that doubling down, then tripling down, then quadrupling down, always ratcheting up hispanic immigration to always keep immigration the bulk of hispanic population growth would be one solution, but there is an even better crime-rate reducing solution. Hispanic immigration should be stopped, and asians and whites should only be allowed to immigrate. The gonzalez/rumbaut paper says that of all asian and hispanic ethnicities, only filipinos and chinese keep 2nd generation incarceration rates below the non-hispanic white rate. Filipinos and Chinese would thus be the best immigrants for lowering crime-rates and keeping them low, with no forever accelerating immigration ponzi scheme necessary.

Anonymous said...

"You'll notice the the cities which tend to cluster at the bottom, with the lowest crime/murder rates, tend to be the ones with the highest Latino/immigrant concentrations. For example, El Paso, TX is the most heavily Latino/immigrant city in America, and its almost at the bottom. Same for lots of other very heavily Lation/immigrant cities. On a very casual level, note that seven of the ten safest cities are either in Texas or California. Interesting pattern..."

Just throwing crap against the wall here, but is it possible that there's less crime because these areas are so poor that there's little to fight over or steal?

RKU said...


Well, this is one reason I try to mostly avoid immigration debates. They tend to absorb too much of my time...

(1) It's certainly true that American-born Latinos have higher criminality rates than immigrant ones, but it's actually that the latter have exceptionally low rates while the former are approximately at the white average.

(2) Let's just do a little thinking about this. Take the case of Los Angeles, which started this whole debate. The first big wave of Latino immigrants began arriving around 30 years ago, and LA has been very heavily Latino immigrant during all the decades since. Now most of these immigrants tended to arrive as young adults, so they're probably getting close to AARP these days. Meanwhile, all the public schools in LA have been absolutely overflowing for about 25 years, with the vast majority of the students being children of these various waves of Latino immigrants. Thus, for about 15+ years, a very big fraction of the LA population in the prime-crime years have been these American-born Latinos. If they really had such high crime rates, why would crime have plummeted during his exact period, now reaching the lowest rates in recorded LA history?

(3) And it's not just LA. Exactly the same pattern is true for ALL of the largest and most heavily Latino immigrant cities in CA and TX, such as Anaheim, Santa Ana, San Jose, and El Paso. ALL of these cities became very heavily Latino decades ago, and ALL of them are now dominated by second-generation Latinos. And all of them have among the lowest crime rates in America. (And since San Jose is the heart of Silicon Valley, one of the wealthiest regions in America, I'd be pretty doubtful about the new theory that "poverty explains *lack* of crime").

Look, everyone knows there are lots of widespread "hoaxes" and "urban legends" floating around, many of them promoted for various reasons by the dishonest mainstream media. This widespread notion of high Latino/immigrant crime rates is just one of them, and the MSM's is a partial culprit.

For example, I remember that in early January 2007 LA's crime rate fell to a 50-year low, and there were a couple of stories in the LA Times about it. Then the NY Times did a big article on "violent gang crime" in LA, and suddenly all the national coverage was about how dangerous and violent LA's gangs were, and the presumed high crime rate, even though the rate was actually down to that of the 90% white-European LA of 1956.

People are basically idiots, and people in the media are often the biggest idiots.

pjgoober said...

rku, can you give me a link for your age-adjusted data? The Rumbaut/Gonzalez data I have shows the following incarceration rates for males age 18-39:

Mexican Foreign born: 0.7%
Mexican US born: 5.9%
White Foreign born: 0.57%
White US born: 1.71%
(see table 2)

Thus, looking at only men aged 18-39 isn't enough to see the age-adjusted effect you speak of. There is still more than a 3 times higher incarceration rate between US born hispanics and US born whites. If you have the data showing that a finer grained age-adjusted comparison puts US born hispanics in a radically better light vis a vis US born whites, please show us a link. Until I see your evidence, I am going to trust that the progressive Ruben Rumbaut, no disliker of immigrants he, would have used a finer grained analysis if it truly would have put US born hispanics in such a radically better light.

Rku writes:
"The first big wave of Latino immigrants began arriving around 30 years ago, and LA has been very heavily Latino immigrant during all the decades since."
"Thus, for about 15+ years, a very big fraction of the LA population in the prime-crime years have been these American-born Latinos. If they really had such high crime rates, why would crime have plummeted during his exact period, now reaching the lowest rates in recorded LA history?"

1)Hispanic and asian growth has diluted astronomically higher crime rate blacks as a percentage of LA, as well as pushed some of them out of the city altogether. But you already knew that.

2) What you have witnessed is a ponzi scheme. Immigration levels have *generally* ratcheted ever upward since 1965. Sure, the first wave 30 years ago was big, but each wave since has been bigger than the one before it.
Here are immigration numbers:
1961 - 1970 3 321 677
1971 - 1980 4 493 314
1981 - 1990 7 338 062
1991 - 2000 9 095 417
2001 - 2004 3 780 000
source: http://usa.usembassy.de/etexts/his/e_immigration.htm

Also see:
"The data also indicate that the first half of this decade has been the highest five-year period of immigration in American history."
Steven Camarota, Center for Immigration Studies, Dec. 2005

Now note the Washington Times link I posted above showing that immigration outpaced births as a component of hispanic population growth until the current decade.

We have had a ponzi scheme with ever increasing numbers of low-incarceration rate hispanic immigrants from 1965 onward always outpacing the growth in higher incarceration rate US-born hispanic births, until now.

You have taken the time to post several polite, lengthy responses to people. I ask you but one more favor, to take the time to find a link to the age-adjusted data you speak of. I would love to believe what you say. I don't get pleasure in thinking all is going to go to hell, but I need a legitimate, trustworthy link.

Steve Sailer said...

You could also adjust LA's crime rates for real estate prices. If the average home in LA costs a half million, say, you could compare the crime rate in LA to other regions with average home costs of a half million, such as in the nicest suburbs of Minneapolis or Dallas.

Steve Sailer said...

The perspective I'm taking is an opportunity cost one. LA isn't that bad a place, but by now it should have become the best place -- the weather is simply that good.

But it's not.

Anonymous said...

I'm a criminal defense attorney and I do agree that considering the massive punishments, high tech evidence equipment and techniques available to the state, that crime should be lower than it is.

The one negative statistic that hasn't gone since the 1992 peak is marriage out of wedlock. This is the reason that crime is still relatively high despite the institutions we've set up.

Almost every young male client I have lives in a fatherless home and looks to his fatherless peers for a sense of belonging. These kids devolve to the natural animalistic state of territorialism. They join gangs with no purpose other than to fight other gangs (there is little drug selling as opposed to what TV shows you). If they commit a serious crime, it's on a random lark or at the behest of an older career criminal whom they look up to.

In my opinion, fatherlessness is our number one national issue. I don't have any solid solutions for it. The male pill? Stricter enforcement of child support laws? Reduce welfare for independent mothers with children?

Until then, I'd like to see some sort of program where high school drop outs are required to find some work and not just hang out on a corner. That and cameras on every city street corner.

pjgoober said...

Rku, The National Urban League Policy Institute's "Summary of 2005Prisoners Report says you are flat-out wrong.

Breaking hispanics and whites into 4 year age grouping does not succeed in lowering the hispanic incarceration disparity by all that much lower than Ruben Rumbaut's bigger age 18-39 category, certainly nowhere close to the "15 percent" higher than white rate you described.

excerpt: "8.1% of all black males age 25 to 29 were in prison at the
end of 2005, compared with 2.6% of Latino males and 1.1% of white males."

The graph there even shows that hispanic males aged 45-54 are incarcerated at a higher rate than white males in any 4 year age grouping, even whites in their 20's and 30's.

Also note that these figures include immigrants. As immigrants decrease as a relative percantage of the hispanic population, these disparities will likely become even more pronounced.

RKU said...


Well, since I'm so busy with other things, this is exactly why I prefer avoiding these comment-debates, but I'll give it one more go-round (also the Isteve comment system is pretty inconvient to use):

(1) First, if you'll carefully reread my claim, I was saying that the 15%(?) Latino/white imprisonment rate difference was for *California*, because that was the state I'd looked into during a debate I had on this exact subject a year or two ago, prompted by the same LA data. With a little effort, I've located a PPIC PDF document that covers this subject. The link is
and there's a very useful graph on page 4 of the document.

(2) The male Latino imprisonment rate is indeed quite a bit higher than the white rate, but the female Latina rate is actually quite a bit lower than the white rate. Since the white population is much, much older than the Latino population, this age difference accounts for most but not all of the imprisonment-gap.

(3) I'll admit I haven't looked much into the national figures, and I wouldn't dispute your imprisonment data, since it came from reputable sources. But interpreting the data may require a little thought.

First, consider that CA is a gigantic state, almost as large as the next two combined, and also the most heavily Latino of any big state. TX is the second biggest state, and also very heavily Latino. So, a very large fraction of all the Latinos in America live in either CA or TX.

Now checking a little reveals that TX has about the highest imprisonment rate in America (around 4 times the NY rate), and CA has one of the highest (maybe 2.5 times the NY rate). So any ethnic group that mostly lives in CA or TX would have hugely disproportional imprisonment rates, even if they were no more likely to be imprisoned that the whites of CA or TX. I'd strongly suspect that's what's behind those national Latino figures. I frankly don't know enough about TX to know why their imprisonment rate is so high, but the high CA rate is for political reasons that really don't have much to do with high crime rates (though they've certainly reduced the crime rate through raw incapacitation).

This isn't playing games or sophistry. Something like 40% of all the Latinos in America live in CA alone, and if (as I'm arguing) their crime rates are roughly the same as the white CA crime rate, it's pretty hard to argue that Latinos are a particularly "high crime" population. Anyway, the city data I'd previously provided would tend to refute this.

Now, back to my real work...

Martin said...

Here's a simple check on RKU's hypothesis:

What's the crime rate in Mexico compared to the crime rate in the U.S.? That might shed some light on the criminal propensities of Mexicans.

I don't know what it is.

I do know however that there have been relatively few gang-related beheadings here (a not uncommon tool of persuasion in Mexico). At least, up till now.

Steve Sailer said...

I'm trying to think of white Californians I've met who have been in prison, and all I've come up with so far are Michael Milken and Robert Downey Jr.

By the way, RKU should return to visit his old community and see all the tall, expensive fences that have gone up around Latinos' houses, complete with lethal finials on the top.