Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reflections on Crime Disparities: White vs. Black, Men vs. Women

I left a comment a while back on Mangan’s report of Helmuth Nyborg’s finding that the average male IQ might exceed the the average female IQ by as much as 7 points:

That different standard deviations in intelligence between men and women account for the overrepresentation of men at both the top of highly cognitive professional endeavors and in the criminal underclass strikes me as plausible and likely. That women have a 7 point IQ deficit compared to men is problematic.

Think about it: a 7 point difference, while small compared to the black-white difference, approaches the Hispanic-white difference, which I take to be around 9 points. Yet the Hispanic IQ manifests itself in all kinds of both academic and social indicators, and obviously so. In contrast, I struggle to think of a way in which the female deficit shows up in disparate male-female outcomes among the broad middle of the population.  The entire point of IQ testing is to predict these outcomes.

Commenter rebelliousvanilla replied:

Greek sign poster, women do commit crime, just that not the one you think of. We commit less crime because our ways are manipulative, not coercive. For example, half, if not more of rape allegations are false. A lot of DV allegations are false. We lie and manipulate to reach our goals, we don't bash heads in. So we are underrepresented in crime due to these reasons.

I found this observation interesting for a number of reasons.  That there are both racial and sexual disparities in violent crime rates is undeniable from an empirical point of view.  But as a Calvinist, I am inclined to find the proposition that some races or sexes are inherently more or less virtuous than others to be theologically problematic.  If indeed all of us have “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, then I would expect evil to be distributed, if not equally, then randomly with respect to other traits.

How, then, do we account for the data?

  • RebelliousVanilla appears to be arguing that crime, is “socially constructed”:  the differences in crime rates reflect, not differences in virtue, but differences in the way society views different kinds of bad behavior.  If this is true, then I would reply:  good!  ReligiousVanilla may speak for herself, but personally, having experienced both “manipulation” and “coercion”, I know I prefer the former to the latter.  If this be misandry, then color me misandrist.

    I suppose one could come up with a similar argument for racial disparities in crime:  our laws and sentencing guidelines reflect Anglo-European standards of behavior rather than, say, African standards, and black Americans find themselves on the wrong side of them.  Again I say:  well and good!  As an Anglo-European myself, I’m quite happy that, say, armed robbery is punished more heavily than insider trading.  (Or at least, I hope this is still the case.)

  • Whatever the underlying propensities, we inevitably see both racial and sexual specialization.  The argument with respect to race might go something like this:  American blacks do not have a greater propensity to commit violent crime; however, because blacks bring to violent crime greater comparative advantages in size, strength, speed, and extroversion relative to the general population, they are more likely to find violent crime a viable career path.  Furthermore, some criminal tracks – drug trafficking comes to mind – are winner-take-all, and whites undertaking a career in this field quickly find themselves driven out of the profession.  I find this entirely plausible, if for no other reason than this appears to be the experience in Great Britain.  Without a large sub-Saharan African population to monopolize crime, white participation in English crime is much higher than it is here in America, and it should be easy to hypothesize that were American blacks to leave us, the white crime rate here would increase as well.

    Similarly, given the sexual dimorphism in size and strength, most women should find a career in violent crime unconducive for the same reasons.

    What does the evidence look like at the local level?  Although we don’t really have any test cases of all-female communities, we do have examples of all white communities, and I anticipate the objection that such communities do not really show any sign of having larger white crime rates.  However, selection effects are important here.  Racially segregated neighborhoods are also segregated by SES, itself a strong predictor.  White rural areas may not be so segregated, but population density and church attendance may also be confounding factors.

Are there other possible explanations?

7 comments:

Professor Hale said...

The other factor I have heard is a hous lead by the female, where no father figure is present leads to high crime as well as unsocial behaviors in other females.

Perhaps a little off topic, but I don't beleive insider trading should be a crime at all. People who don't understand the market they invest in are always at risk of being manipulated into losing everything.

Dexter said...

The mighty tentacles of the Obsidian Kraken will soon smash your puny blog to smithereens!

I struggle to think of a way in which the female deficit shows up in disparate male-female outcomes among the broad middle of the population.

Seems to me this explains why higher education has been massively dumbed-down since the 1960s, and also why women study fluffy nonsense rather than difficult STEM courses.

Φ said...

Dexter: perhaps. But the dumbing down also overlaps an increase in college enrollment overall, especially among women, who now outnumber men.

Female preference for fluffy nonsense (i.e. humanities) correlates with their relatively better performance on measures of verbal aptitude over mathematical aptitude.

On pain of generalization, I would also suggest that "improving one's ability to support a family" ranks relatively lower on a woman's list of reasons for pursuing higher education. Thus they are freer to pursue relatively non-remunerative degrees.

None of this rules out the possibility of an overall IQ differential, but it may partially account for what we're seeing in college statistics.

Professor Hale said...

I further don't really know what is meant by IQ. I know how it is tested and well as some of the surrogates that are used. While claims to whole number precision are common I suspect the real accuracy of such measures is to the tens digit. Therefore, the difference between men and women is in the margin of error.

Φ said...

Prof Hale: IQ is supposedly defined as the ratio of "mental age" to "chronological age", but it is more meaningful to think of it as a normal distribution with a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15.

For an individual, you are correct: measured IQ can vary with all sorts of things like caffination level. But over large groups, this noise averages out.

Thursday said...

Without a large sub-Saharan African population to monopolize crime, white participation in English crime is much higher than it is here in America, and it should be easy to hypothesize that were American blacks to leave us, the white crime rate here would increase as well.

Except this isn't really the case in places like Canada or Utah, or for that matter Minnesota.

Grim said...

Whites in the UK are thugs because they are raised in a thuggish culture. Trailer trash whites have a similar culture and a resulting crime habit. As a wise man once said: Black or White, crooks are all trash people.