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The Effect of Changes in Intraracial Income Inequality and Educational Attainment on Changes in Arrest Rates for African Americans and Whites, 1957 to 1990

Gary LaFree and Kriss A. Drass
American Sociological Review
Vol. 61, No. 4 (Aug., 1996), pp. 614-634
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2096396
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Effect of Changes in Intraracial Income Inequality and Educational Attainment on Changes in Arrest Rates for African Americans and Whites, 1957 to 1990
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Abstract

Rapid increases in crime in the United States in the 1960s and early 1970s have been puzzling in that they seem to coincide with economic growth and increased educational opportunity for disadvantaged groups, especially African Americans. We argue that these increases in crime may be more understandable in their historical context: Much of the economic expansion during the postwar period and the unprecedented gains in educational attainment for African Americans were accompanied by growing intraracial income inequality. Our annual time-series analysis of African American and White robbery, burglary, and homicide arrest rates from 1957 to 1990 confirms that intraracial income inequality is a consistent predictor of changes in arrest rates for both African Americans and Whites. An interaction analysis of dummy variables indicates that the relationship between education and crime for African Americans and Whites is contingent on levels of intraracial income inequality. For African Americans, increasing educational attainment is associated with rising arrest rates, but only during periods of growing income inequality; for Whites, increasing educational attainment is associated with reduced crime rates, but only during periods of declining inequality.

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