Why Is The Ratio Of Black Incarceration To White Incarceration Worse In Higher Social Classes?
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My new column in Taki’s Magazine provides the background for my graph of Raj Chetty’s data, which shows incarceration rates for young black and white men (left vertical axis) vs. their parents’ IRS-reported income levels when growing up. Unsurprisingly, the poor wind up behind bars a lot more than the rich, and the ratio (right vertical axis) of black men to white men locked up is huge.

Perhaps unexpectedly, though, the black to white incarceration rate ratio (red line) steadily gets worse as childhood privilege increases from 3.3x at the first percentile to 6.7x at the 98th percentile. (The explosion of the ratio in the last percentiles might be real or just random noise: we’re looking at 45 black and 406 white jailbirds in the top two percentiles).


I think I might have an explanation that didn’t occur to me when writing my column.

Consider this analogy: In Saudi Arabia, public health officials long didn’t pay much to the birth defects caused by cousin marriage, in part because they had bigger fish to fry, such as traditional child-killing infectious epidemics. Eventually, they got smallpox and the like under control, after which they started to notice that they had a genetic birth defects problem due to cousin marriage.

Likewise, getting yourself thrown in the slammer is due to various nature and nurture reasons. At the bottom of society, bad nurture is a massive problem. But at the top of society, bad nurture has greatly diminished, leaving nature as relatively more important.

[Comment at Unz.com]

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