Wondering Why Crime Is Up? Look to Older Whites, Not Young People of Color


Mike Males tells us today in the LA Times that Donald Trump is right: violent crime went up in 2015. However, you might be surprised at which demographic groups are responsible for this rise. Federal crime statistics don’t provide age/race breakdowns, but California does (2014 here, 2015 here), and it’s probably a pretty good proxy for what’s happening elsewhere:

Donald Trump is not right, as he has suggested on the campaign trail and repeated in Sunday’s debate, that the chief culprits are Muslim terrorists, inner-city gangs and Latino “criminal illegal aliens” who comprise the “murderers” causing “drug problems” and “crime like you’ve never seen.” If he needs someone to blame, he should look instead to the demographic group most likely to support him: older whites.

….Violent crime, which includes murder, rape, robbery and assault, rose 4% among older whites but decreased by 2% among those under age 30….Over the last 25 years — even with falling crime and recent reforms that reduced California’s prison population — older whites are the only group that has shown increased levels of imprisonment, while rates for young people of color have plummeted.

Obviously this might be different in specific areas. Chicago is Trump’s go-to horror story for crime, and I don’t know what the numbers there show. But the US as a whole is far more likely to be similar to California (population 39 million, mixed rural/urban) than to Chicago (population 3 million, 100% urban). And in California, violent crime is down among young people of color. Only among older groups, including whites, is the violent crime rate up.

POSTSCRIPT: I’ve written about this before, and the key metric here is that violent crime in California is down among all young people and up among all older people. Why? Because older people are part of Generation Lead. Younger people aren’t. You see? Millennials don’t have it all bad.