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

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


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.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate