A crime rate difference among ethnic groups is probably a cultural universal. Chinese and Japanese Americans have lower crime rates then other Americans: Irish immigrants to England have higher crime rates. In Sweden, Hungarian and Yugoslav immigrants have a higher crime rate. Immigrant status can be related to higher rates, or, as in the case of Japanese and Chinese Americans, associated with lower rates. The ethnic/race factor generally occurs along with other crime related factors such as degree of urbanization, big cities, age, and poverty.

In other words, ethnic minorities are more likely to live in urban areas, in big cities, be younger as a group than majority groups and more likely to be impoverished. Some writers and researchers have used these differences in crime rates to support racist arguments and behavior against minority ethnic groups. Others have, to avoid sensitive issues and controversy, neglected the subject entirely, and still others have used the differences to support arguments for changing the social structure and eliminating institutional racism in the social structure.

The difference is observable, but simplistic explanations have fallen short of providing understanding. Crime rates between blacks and whites are particularly different; blacks are more likely to live in big cities, have a younger median age, and have lower socio- economic status than whites; blacks are more likely to be arrested, have a crime committed against them, and more likely to be murdered. Even when demographic factors are taken into account, when compared to whites, blacks still have a 4 to 1 arrest rate difference for violent crimes, and a 3 to 1 difference for property crimes.

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Counter to the image held by some, they also are over-represented for “white collar” crime. Approximately one-third of fraud, forgery, counterfeiting, receiving stolen property, and one-forth of embezzlement arrests are of blacks, while only one-eighth of the population is black. Areas where blacks are under-represented are directly related to the makeup of the population committing the crime. Tax fraud and securities violation in general require high social status and income and thus are less likely to have blacks as members or perpetrators.



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