African-American fact of the day (there is a great stagnation)

As sociologist Patrick Sharkey shows in his book Stuck in Place, 62 percent of black adults born between 1955 and 1970 lived in neighborhoods that were at least 20 percent poor, a fact that’s true of their children as well. An astounding 66 percent of blacks born between 1985 and 2000 live in neighborhoods as poor or poorer as those of their parents.

That is from Jamelle Bouie, there is more here, mostly about neighborhood effects.


"Man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains." I suspect this quote could be applied to your statistic in many ways.

High achieving blacks suffer in their family lives from Galton's regression toward the mean. A black with a 115 IQ will, on average, have more relatives with IQs below 100 or even 85 than a white with the same 115 IQ. That's because the mean IQ for blacks is about 85 versus about 100 for whites.

Similarly, the mean crime rate is far higher for blacks than for whites (about 7 or 8x for homicides according to the Obama administration), so law-abiding blacks are more likely to have relatives who are criminals than are law-abiding whites.

The concept of regression toward the mean helps you understand the problems above average blacks have in isolating themselves from black dysfunction. Do you cut yourself off from your loved ones? Do you refuse to take in your nephew who is getting in trouble on the playground (see "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" for an optimistic take on this). What if he brings thuggish friends with him to your nice neighborhood?

What if your own child is much lower in IQ and higher in criminality than you are? That's not uncommon among high achieving African Americans.

These are difficult, indeed tragic issues. Blaming them on white racism won't make them go away.

I prefer a cultural explanation over a genetic one if possible. And there is one possible here - African Americans have an incredibly high tolerance for crime. If you ask them, Black voters say that crime is a big issue, but when it comes to the ballot box, no, it isn't. Every time a city has seen a Black mayor elected, one of the first things that has happened is that the police have been crippled and needless to say crime has exploded. Detroit being a good example. Even though most victims are Black, Blacks keep voting for these policies. They keep voting for the same old politicians even though being a member of the Black Congressional Caucus is almost synonymous with being an indicted felon. Also Marion Barry.

Presumably a lot of that is based on the history of law enforcement and Black people's troubled relationship with the police.

Still, you would expect it to mean that criminals are more appealing to the off spring of middle class Blacks than to the off spring of middle class Whites. And if someone's nephew is cooking meth in the basement, a White family is much more likely to cut him off than a Black one.

Regression toward the mean is a general statistical phenomenon rather than a specific genetic or cultural mechanism.

You can actually test whether regression is purely statistical or regression is partially genetic / inheritance and also due to mating patterns.

Under a genetics + assortative mating model, say 2 IQ 115 Black people marry (which would be quite rare). On average, 2 such people will have a genotype IQ of 100 and 15 more points of environmental luck, because African Americans are around 85-90 genotype and heritability of IQ is around 50%.

So, their kids will on average have a genotype IQ of 100, and no environmental luck.

But, again on average, these kids will spend time with, and eventually marry (generally) and have kids with, other Black people with an IQ of 100, who will tend to have a genotype IQ of 92, and 8 points of luck.

And so on.

If mating doesn't matter, and regression is purely statistical, the kids will keep on regressing even if two people with the same parental background marry, on average. I don't think this happens, but it could be tested - look at the grandkids of Black families where the grandparents share the same status and see if the grandkids are regressed compared to the kids.

Regression toward the mean is a general statistical phenomenon rather than a specific genetic or cultural mechanism.

That is incorrect. Regression toward the mean requires specific mechanisms and distributions. There are plenty of cases where it does not have to happen. Here is the simplest: if there is a population with alleles A an a, there won't be a regression when inbreeding homozygotes.

What a myopic comment. Your Detroit example makes no sense whatsoever. That city has not invested in any services at all. Policing is no exception. There is simply no money for anything. Cut the fire department more to pay for police? They don't even have function trucks. The police salaries are so dismal and the work so dangerous they can't even recruit people. For its population Detroit is massive, requiring many more cops than a smaller city of similar population and crime rate would.

What a myopic comment. Your Detroit example makes no sense whatsoever. That city has not invested in any services at all. Policing is no exception. There is simply no money for anything.

Thank you for that Jan. You did not savage my expectations. I think my Detroit example makes sense. Perhaps you ought to have thought about why I thought it made sense before replying?

Coleman Young inherited a perfectly functioning, even wealthy, city. With plenty of money for police and firetrucks. As I said one of the first things that happen was an emasculation of the police. This did not even have to wait for Young to be elected because when he campaigned on the issue, the previous mayor abolished the Street Crime Unit to appease Black voters. It did not help him. Young was elected and promptly fired as many White police officers as he could and hired Black ones instead. Police shootings and beatings have risen enormously even as street crime has. Cause and effect.

Cut the fire department more to pay for police? They don’t even have function trucks. The police salaries are so dismal and the work so dangerous they can’t even recruit people.

Now. Not then. The experiment in Black Consciousness has failed. Young was elected to rule a perfectly functioning city. He turned it into a wasteland where, as you say, the fire services can't afford trucks, the police can't catch anyone etc etc. Perfectly normal for cities that elect Black mayors. You can't point to the wasteland that Detroit has become and claim it is the cause of the policies that made it a wasteland.

For its population Detroit is massive, requiring many more cops than a smaller city of similar population and crime rate would.

Having driven out half the population, sure. The rest tend to be spread out. You think you have a point? If so, what is it? Is it true that the first thing Coleman Young did was emasculate the police? Yes it is. Has crime risen? Yes it has. Are Blacks the main victims of that? Well they are now as everyone with money has left. Despite presiding over an epidemic of Black murder and rape victims, was Young consistently re-elected? Despite his closest associates being charged and convicted of corruption, was Young consistently re-elected? Yes he was. Did the NAACP give him a medal despite the consequences of Young's policies for Detroit's Blacks? Yes they did. As I said, amazingly tolerant of crime. And corruption. And incompetence.

Thanks for the racist drivel. Make some coherent argument relevant to today and we can talk.

Yup the same is true with education. John Ogbu found that while African-American parents affirm the importance of education for their children, they don't actually do the things that result in good outcomes. So in the two areas where most people look closely at when deciding where to move, crime & school, African-Americans perform abysmal.

It should also be noted that this country has diversified substantially in the last 50 years and for the most part immigrants avoid heavily Black areas.



regression mean black white iq

What if your own child is much lower in IQ and higher in criminality than you are? That’s not uncommon among high achieving African Americans.

Freddy on House of Cards!

Good point. White people don't suffer from regression toward the mean. And that's not because black people are racist; it's just the way things are.

Everybody experiences regression toward the mean; it's just that different groups have different means.

I blame white people, and think we african americans are due some more reparations. We'll put it on the bill.

I'm all for this, because whites still haven't learned their lesson: there's no such thing as "cheap labor."


Them white people are riding the down escalator, too.

As an African-American, I agree with this.

You're whiter than George Hamilton's teeth.

Now THAT dates you.

We're all out-of-Africa.
Some just left sooner than others...

1) in WWI, African-American soldiers from northern states out scored white draftees from southern states on aptitude tests.

2) between 1954 and 1964 the number of blacks in professional or technical occupations almost doubled.

So what happened?

Culture happened. The Great Society and welfare kicked in and destroyed the black family, just as it had destroyed families in the UK, Canada and other countries, replacing self sufficiency with dependency and entitlement.

And yet, despite decades of failure, here we are today with the state grinding inexorably on, bigger and more intrusive than ever.

And thanks to statist-driven education, more popular than ever as well.

More welfare/public program beneficiaries are white than black--why hasn't the Great Society had the same impact on them?

It has.

So why hasn't everyone in America gotten poorer since the 1960s?

A smaller and smaller proportion of the White and Asian community has increased their productivity faster than the growing proportion of Black, Hispanic and increasingly White members of the underclass have become more dysfunctional, feckless and welfare dependent.

SMS is confusing association with causation. Being eligible for safety net programs does not mean those programs' very existence caused one to have such a low income that they quality for them.

Actually Jan, no I did not. Which you would have noticed if you, oh I don't know, read what I said.

I make no comment on causation at all. I simply note the growing productivity in part of the economy and the growing dysfunction in another part.

Are you betting your bottom dollar that this statement is true? An astounding 66 percent of whites born between 1985 and 2000 live in neighborhoods as poor or poorer as those of their parents.

Or at least something around or above 66 percent?

Yep young folks live in poorer neighborhoods than older folks. I live in a richer neighborhood in my 50s than I did in my twenties. Very shcoking!!!

Pshrnk, is the trend the same for whites?

I agree with Pshrnk, why would we no expect 66 percent of people born between 1985 and 2000 live in neighborhoods as poor or poorer as those of their parents. What was the case in the 1960's?

Read Charles Murray's Coming Apart.

Hard to believe there are still idiots who don't know the difference between absolute and relative statistics, and that the latter is almost always appropriate.

Epi background. I know the difference. ;-) I'm asking why hasn't this trend been the same for poorer whites subject to the atrocity of the Great Society programs.

Because the percentage of black people who are recipients of these programs is much greater than the percentage of white people who are.

No, no, let's just talk about poorer whites who are on these programs. Have they experienced the same trends?

Nope. Everything's great here.

Great Society = downturn of the coal economy. It was bound to happen.

Not sure what you mean by "downturn in the coal economy". If you're talking about US coal production, it's never been higher.

If you're talking about peak coal mining jobs, that was 1920.

The point is that WV has always been dirt poor and white. The horrible images of poverty in Appalachia are a major part of what sparked the Great Society movement. And it hasn't gotten a whole hell of a lot better. Overall the last 50 years the coal industry, which was/is really the only significant industry in the region has undeniably gone downhill. Maybe it even started in the 20s, as you say.

"The horrible images of poverty in Appalachia are a major part of what sparked the Great Society movement. And it hasn’t gotten a whole hell of a lot better."
Time to double down, I guess.

Time to keep trotting out the argument that the GS somehow caused poverty, even though it was widespread before the GS.

It would be completely nuts to argue that the Great Society caused poverty. It would be significantly less nuts to argue that the Great Society has not done a good job of lowering poverty.

Upthread it appears some folks are indeed implying that the Great Society caused poverty. Glad you and Jan and I agree that's nuts.

That said, I'm fairly sympathetic to the (hard to prove with data) idea that there is a mindset of dependency that simply can't be there if there's no welfare system to be dependent on. However, I do not think that mindset is racially distinct.

Perhaps race is just an efficient indicator of those attributes which are most likely to drive a dependency mindset.

Though likely more accurate, it is much much harder to measure culture and genetic predisposition.

With cultural norms and expectations 'progressing' for all races, your belief that the dependency mindset does not discriminate may prove correct, though I would consider that a Pyrrhic victory of sorts.

The "'War' on Drugs" played a role, too.

+1, too much incarceration for non-violent drug offenses

I don't think you can separate the effect of incarceration from the cause - that the individual thinks casual law-breaking is without potentially serious consequences - or just doesn't care enough to think at all. And btw, what do you mean "non-violent drug offense"? Are the women and children being gunned down in the streets in Mexico/Central/South America not worthy of your consideration? Or perhaps you mean that the people who support the criminals who do that are without blame? Rubbish.

Are the women and children being gunned down in the streets in Mexico/Central/South America not worthy of your consideration?

Of course they are. And they wouldn't be being gunned down in such numbers if drugs weren't illegal.

Or perhaps you mean that the people who support the criminals who do that are without blame?

No, of course not. People like you who support the War on Drugs, thus supporting the criminals, do indeed bear a lot of the blame. Do you not find the women and children being gunned down in the street of Mexico/Central/South American worthy of your consideration?

that the individual thinks casual law-breaking is without potentially serious consequences – or just doesn’t care enough to think at all.

Most people I know think nothing at all about casually driving 5 miles per hour over the speed limit. Nor breaking a whole lot of other laws that we all commit every day but are not enforced. I don't think we need to be sending lot of people to prison for long terms to prove a point about it, though.

By your logic, the politicians who make drugs illegal should all be in jail, since without them all those people would still be alive.

"And btw, what do you mean “non-violent drug offense”?"

I specifically mean those who are in prison for possessing illegal drugs with intent to sale, but not for any kind of violence. We don't put hookers in prison, why do we put small time drug sellers in prison?

Those people often aren't hardened criminals when their caught, but generally are after they've served 1+ years in prison.

Why do so many people here assume that Great Society programs are the cause of our continuing problems with concentrated poverty, as opposed to the ongoing march of globalization, competition with a growing global workforce, and the hollowing out of the US labor pool? The latter seems a lot more convincing than the former.


It is all about jobs. Stagnant wages plus a raised bar is hurting those on the left half of the bell curve.

A lot of the people who blame social programs also blame immigration and trade with cheap-labor nations, viewing those arguments as complementary. It's a sort of leftist conservative thing, although that's not quite the right way to describe it. I've been struggling to find a good term.

National socialism :)

While there are definitely some unpleasant or hateful people in that camp, I don't think it's generally an authoritarian bunch.

The "pull the ladder up" party

+1 for pueblo reference.

Is a recipient of multi generational welfare more equipped or less equipped to deal with globalization and more competition?

You seem to be saying the GS would be a great idea if the world would stop changing.

The deleterious effects of welfare dependence on family, education and employment are uniform through time, in different countries and with disparate cultures - black or white.

And it was arrested with the Clinton- Gingrich welfare reforms. This was the Brookings Institute assessment 10 years later, in 2006:

"As a result, welfare rolls plunged by over 60 percent, as many as two million mothers entered the labor force, earnings for females heading families increased while their income from welfare payments fell, and child poverty declined every year between 1993 and 2000. By the late 1990s, both black child poverty and poverty among children in female-headed families had reached their lowest levels ever. Even now, after four years of increased child poverty following the 2001 recession, the child poverty rate is still 20 percent lower than it was in 1993. "

So life is competitive. What, are you a creationist yearning for some Eden utopia?

Because shipping our low wage jobs overseas is synonymous with a rising standard of living. Too many Americans haven't learned that they compete against foreign labor whether they like it or not and regardless of policy. The Great Society provided all the incentives to not acquire the skills to rise up. Perhaps neither alone is the sine qua non of modern poverty, but the combinations of the two certainly is.

The Great Society provided all the incentives to not acquire the skills to rise up. Nope. If a safety net and social insurance programs disincentivized acquisition of skills needed to compete internationally, one simply can't explain high-skilled, export driven countries like Germany.

Diversity and a low trust society? I grew up with values like self-sacrifice and being ashamed of bankruptcy or welfare. Growing older and more cynical, I've learned that I should take what I can before somebody else does. Somebody who doesn't have my back. Some day there may not be anything left.

As do most people, HL.

Expensive entitlements for people that don't need them -- like not means testing Medicare -- doesn't make sense. I'll give ya that.

The question answers itself.

In many ways the situation of the Canadian native indians and the US african americans are similar in that they enjoy deep, abiding intrusive care of the Federal government.

A few years when the wave of paying reparations for past injustices went through, the Head Tax which was applied to chinese immigrants came up. It was an injustice, racist, every epithet you could throw at it stuck. The reparations were somewhat embarrassing; a check for a few dollars given to the descendants who were well educated upper middle class, successful in every way. Almost like the abiding hatred and discrimination was better than the tender loving touch of the government hand.

I accuse anyone who focuses on racism of playing a game of changing the subject. Attacking racism and racists is far easier than attacking the policies, education establishment, corrupt municipal political/government machines that do far more harm than some crackpot who no black or white would ever want to have anything to do with and is not forced by government to deal with.

Es verdad.

hmm I heard about that statistic about blacks scoring higher from Thomas Sowell

probably there's some selection bias going on there

The Alpha IQ test given to draftees in 1917 required literacy. Lots of white Southerners, especially in the hillbilly states, were illiterate. American elites were dismayed by how uneducated so many Americans were.

World War II Americans did notably better.

Have average black IQ rates changed since 1995? They were about 85 then.

Chips asked, "So what happened?"

The obvious answer, the one backed by mountains of evidence, is that the schools in the South improved. Once all whites and blacks had access to a basic primary education the natural differences in IQ were reflected in the testing. But, that's not an answer the prevailing religion accepts so upper middle-class white people have long debates about discrimination, pedagogy and welfare policy.

So how's Canada doing?

Welfare in BC is $235+$375 per month, with some health and dental benefits.

Unemployment insurance is maximum $514 per week for 43 weeks.

Health care is free, as is medicaid.

No one in their right mind would stay in that situation if they had the choice or ability to do differently.

More interesting is the native indians who if on reserve have housing and income from the government. There are appalling rates of poverty, addiction, suicide, incarceration, pretty much any social ill. Any suggestion to reform the Indian Act, in practice the most vile piece of racist legislation and implementation, any suggestion to change it in any way elicits screams of racism.

More like migration to the urban North happened. The ties that bind were broken. Blacks wanting to maintain a level of respectability were bound by small town mores in the South. Other Blacks would know your business, which families were good or bad and react accordingly. In the North folks were just crammed in the ghetto and there wasn't much in the way of social mores restraining one from pursuing reckless sex or relationships with shifty people.

So it turns out the Great Society is an appalling, expensive failure. Can we stop paying for it now?

If you didn't pay welfare to poor people, wouldn't they just be even poorer?

Because Michelle O. won't allow them to eat cake.

Lack of money doesn't cause poverty. If that was all it was, we could just fire all the social workers and give everybody a check for $40,000 every year.

Welfare subsidizes r-selection and bad decisions.

Millian June 27, 2014 at 8:33 am

If you didn’t pay welfare to poor people, wouldn’t they just be even poorer?

Depends. As a large proportion of poverty is caused by bad decisions, that section of the poor community would not expand. Bill Clinton made some mild changes to welfare and the number of teenage single mothers did actually drop. Being knocked up by some thug low life is much less appealing if middle class White Folk won't pay for it. However some poverty is caused by circumstances beyond anyone's control.

Whether poverty would increase over-all depends on the proportions of these two groups. I am willing to bet the former grossly outweighs the latter. But as long as the welfare lobby is happy to pretend the former does not exist, we will all have to go on paying the other people's crack habits.

Sorry, but "it depends" is not an ideologically satisfying answer. You must ignore all context and come down squarely on one side or the other without caveats. That's how this game works.

Thug = black male

(SMFS Translations)

Jan stupidly focuses on the race card further ignore the issue, which is that he regularly ignores the correlation between bad decisions and poverty.

The core of the comment is racial. "Thug," "middle class White Folk." I am frankly surprised the term "welfare queen" wasn't used. There is nothing substantive there to comment on. But, since you'd like to debate the unwed, teenage mother issue, here. It demolishes your positions.

You can see race wherever you like. It doesn't mean it is there.

How does that link do anything to demolish the argument? Yes, people getting welfare are spending less than people not. The notion that someone in Compton with no husband and three children by three different Baby Daddies is remotely comparable to, say, Gwenth Paltrow is bizarre. And yes there was a racial component to that - just to make you happy.

You are comparing *all* families with children under 18 who don't get welfare with families with children under 18 who do. Can you see the fallacy of that? The super-rich are not likely to be getting food stamps.

So "they spend a third less on food, half as much on housing, and 60 percent less on entertainment." Fine. But:

Income before taxes
All: $77,372
No Assistance: $93,665
Assistance: $26,852
Singe Parent w. Assistance: $17,452
Two Parents w. Assistance: $36,856

Families not getting assistance are earning *four*times* as much. And they are only spending 40% more on entertainment? In other words, people on welfare are having a really good time.

Although to be fair, you need to see a comparison of people at roughly equal levels of income, with or without assistance, to see the impact of welfare. The problem with this sort of welfare is not that the people who get it are poorer than Bill Gates. It is that it makes a mockery of those who make the right moral and economic choices. The poor couple who stay together. The people who work even though it does not pay. That is the problem.

Crack, ha.

Crack is like nothing now compared to Rx abuse, which is way more deadly these days, and almost a completely white person drug.

Reading your comments is like talking to my uncle's racist neighbor 20 years ago.

So old White people are shooting each other dead in the streets are they?

Your determination to be non-racist is commendable Jan, but not so much that you have to give up independent or logical thought. Crack was a problem in the way Rx abuse has never been.

And we see in Sweden that single mothers prefer criminals. So it is not just a Black thing is it?

Some are, yeah. And not just old ones--a lot are much younger. But mostly they are robbing children of their parents and refusing to do anything to contribute to society, just spending their days snorting crushed pills. But seriously, violence is an issue and it sadly affects young black men with no opportunities more than whites. It is NOT mainly crack thing.

Also, I don't think you know the extent of the Rx abuse problem compared to crack epidemic. Did crack ever kill 16,000 per year, even at its peak? Did it even come close? Did it cause tens of billions of dollars per year in unnecessary medical costs?

I've witnessed the RX problem personally in my family. It is of a different nature than the crack problem. Both are/were serious. I'm guessing the crack problem had more externalities through gang violence and the such than the RX problem ever will because of the source. Pain Killer Shops ran by MDs (even of dubious nature) are not sources of violence like crack houses and drug dealers protecting their turf.

The war on drugs wasn't sold so much on the black victims of crack addiction so much as the (possibly exaggerated for political purposes) effect of the gang wars on innocent people. Also exploiting irrational fears of suburban mothers. (Also see MADD for this)

No, because they would go back to making responsible decisions. Although you bring up a good point. Is the cultural memory of responsibility still there?

Seems like there are two conversations here. One ignores the sociology and focuses on individual needs and individual choice, and the other ignores the individual and focuses on the sociological costs (and benefits). With a declining birth rate, and an apparent death spiral for our educational system, one important question is: is the marginal child (of a poor single mother) going to be a net contribution to our economy two decades from now? Separating child support from education is idiotic.

Short answer, highly unlikely.
However, in a paper published in the Fall 2012 issue of the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Bruce D. Meyer and James X. Sullivan present some alternative interpretations and more cheerful conclusions in "Winning the War: Poverty from the Great Society to the Great Recession." They conclude: "Despite repeated claims of a failed war on poverty, our results show that the combination of targeted economic policies and policies that support growth has had a significant impact on poverty. ... Noticeable improvements have been made in the last decade; although not as big as the improvements in some earlier decades, they are comparable to or better than the progress made in the 1980s. We may not yet have won the war on poverty, but we are certainly winning.

What a BS statement. Sixty-two percent live in a neighborhood that's 20% poor? What the heck does that even mean? Does that mean that one-fifth of the population of a certain neighborhood is below the "federal poverty line" by some criterion? But it doesn't mean, or say, that the 62% are necessarily part of that 20%, although they could be, at least in part. Like all such aggregate social statistics that are used to advance ideology, these numbers don't have any relationship to any particular individual and are basically meaningless.

My thoughts exactly. All it means is that a large majority of them live either in cities or rural areas.

Here's the key, I think:

"But the fact of large-scale neighborhood poverty holds true for higher-income black Americans as well. Middle-class blacks are far more likely than middle-class whites to live in areas with significant amounts of poverty."

Why might that be? The article offers one possible explanation:

"For example, in one study—conducted by the Department of Housing and the Urban Institute—black renters learned about fewer rental units and fewer homes than their white counterparts."

So the idea is that middle-class blacks would like to move out of their neighborhoods, but discrimination prevents them from finding out about available apartments and homes? Zillow, Craigslist, and classified ads discriminate? Really? A much more plausible factor is this:

"White middle-class families have the option to live in a community that matches their own credentials," Logan says. "If you're African American and want to live with people like you in social class, you have to live in a community where you are in the minority."

So if you're African American and you want to live in a neighborhood with a critical mass of other African Americans, the trade off is that you're almost invariably going to be living near a higher fraction of poor people. That's all there really is to it. And in other contexts, don't progressives argue that this kind of integration of rich and poor is a good thing?

I think you're right that black middle-class families prefer to live in neighborhoods with more black families (and that Craigslist postings don't discriminate), but discrimination could still come in with 1) landlords' discretion of which applicant to choose and 2) black families' beliefs about being discriminated against by neighbors, etc. if they move into a community where they are a very small minority.

There's no "could" about it. HUD studies this regularly and although things have improved over time, minorities are still frequently subject to discrimination by landlords and realtors.

Yeah, but look at the last sentence Tyler quoted. "66 percent of blacks born between 1985 and 2000 live in neighborhoods as poor or poorer as those of their parents."

Nothing wrong with black people wanting to live around other black people and accepting that that means living around more poor people, but the stagnation from one generation to the next is still noteworthy, I think.

Most major cities have at least one neighborhood that's all black and well-to-do. I've seen them in Houston and Los Angeles. Neighbors put pressure on each other to maintain very high standards of lawn care and the like to present a united front to keep from slipping.

I have some sympathy for your argument, but let's not be hasty.

When the national poverty rate is about 12-13%, 20% is rather high. I suppose we need to know how many standard deviations that is from the mean, and I suspect it is high.

Suppose you are raising a family in such a neighborhood but you yourself are not among the 20%. The implication is that neighborhood influences provide an additional risk factor for you and your family. Maybe your kids run with the low income gangs or have to share classrooms with them or otherwise unlearns the lessons or example you provide. The high poverty rate is correlated with general economic weakness that puts your income at risk. There may well be something to this statistic.

And what are the percentages for white, asian, hispanic?

The question is what this is really measuring. The obvious thing it is measuring is that Blacks like living near other Blacks. Middle Class Blacks do not move out to Middle Class suburbs as much as Whites do. So Middle Class Blacks are more likely to have children that grow up near poor Blacks.

It is probably also measuring the small size of the Black communities in many places. Middle Class Blacks in, say, Chicago would make up a sizable group of people. Easily enough to have their own neighborhood. But Middle Class Blacks would not to the same extent in somewhere like Grand Falls. In many towns, if Blacks want to live near other Blacks, those Blacks will be poor.

But it is also likely to be measuring the lack of cultural differences between poor and Middle Class Blacks. A Middle Class White person who has started their own business rapidly becomes a different sort of person than a poor White who has not. But someone who becomes Middle Class because they have taken the spoils of the political system has not had a value transformation. They will not differ from others in their community, even if they are poor. As the Black Middle Class is largely a product of the political spoils system, with very few Black entrepreneurs, culturally there won't be a big distance between poor and Middle Class and hence no reason to segregate.

Do you think that "Blacks want to live near other Blacks" could be part of the problem?

Why do people trumpet the benefits of diversity but then deny that lack of diversity is harmful?

NB: I am not saying YOU play this trumpet.

"American Blacks, you shouldn't want to live near other blacks, you don't know what's good for you"

Ahh yes, the call of the Block Buster. Happened a lot in 1955-1970, probably one of the drivers of the statistic that Tyler was talking about. The adjustment, white flight, had mostly taken place by the second period 1985-2000, so the rise in neighbourhood poverty is unsurprising. I've never seen a tally of the evaporation of net worth that I'm almost sure happened due to this phenomena. If anyone knows of a paper I'd be interested to see.

PS: Robert Putnam would disagree that lack of diversity is harmful to a community, in fact he found homogenous neighbourhoods have much higher social capital, a measure of how much people participate and invest in their communities.

"Our Lot" by Alyssa Rosenberg includes an honest account by a white liberal of the damage done to white neighborhood by the 1968 Fair Housing Act:

Pardon me, by Alyssa Katz.

Robert Putnam would disagree that lack of diversity is harmful to a community, in fact he found homogenous neighbourhoods have much higher social capital, a measure of how much people participate and invest in their communities.

Detroit is 80-90% Black. It must be humming with social capital.

Well I think diversity is actively harmful. Seems to be the way the research is going.

But I am not sure. I can see why Black people would want to live near other Black people. I am highly sympathetic to, for instance, Asian immigrants with poor English skills and special diets who prefer to live near other Asians with the same preferences. Doesn't seem to be a problem to me at all. However Black government is so dysfunctional that Blacks would probably be better off living as far away from other Blacks as possible. In fact if you were Black and you wanted your child to go to college, you would be better off putting him in a school named after Robert E Lee than one named after Martin Luther King. He would certainly be safer standing on Robert E. Lee Road than on Martin Luther King Bvd.

The tl;dr version - no I don't think people wanting to live wherever the hell they want is a problem. We just need to be careful what we are actually measuring when we measure.

Affordable housing requirements will skew the ability to meaningfully interpret this statistic. If the idea is to dilute concentrated poverty by subsidizing the interspersal of below-poverty-line households amongst slightly wealthier ones, then it's going to look like all those black kids are growing up in some kind of corrupting, debilitating, and blighted circumstance when that's not necessarily the case.

Two points:
(1) Everything I've read says that the absolute standard of living of poor Americans has risen over the last 50 years. Today's poor are living better than the poor of 50 years ago.
(2) Blacks commit violent crimes at much higher rates than other races. This makes mostly black neighborhoods less desirable, and people with money will tend to live elsewhere. If the black crime rate falls, middle class and upper class people will be less likely to move away from them. The gentrification of New York City, including the Bronx due to lower crime rates, is an example of this.

This. Is "poor" used in a relative sense, not an absolute one? If so no one is necessarily worse off.

I think things are changing in the African-American community. They have more examples of successful African-Americans that they can follow. Barack Obama is president, and Elon Musk is the head of Tesla and SpaceX, and, of course, there is Lyndon and Peter Rive the heads of SolarCity. These leaders point the way for a new generation.

Yes, and don't forget that other great female African-American role model Maria Teresa Thierstein Simões Ferreira, also known as Theresa Heinz Kerry.

Ernie Els on the golf tour.

Stanley Fischer at the Bank of Israel and the Fed.

Um, Elon Musk and his cousins the Rive brothers are all white South African expats (of Canadian and British descent) -- thinking of them as part of the 'African-American community' is quite a stretch.

Well I guess Musk is both African (born in south Africa) and American (US citizen) so he does qualify in some sense as African- American and of course he is a successful entrepreneur so is a role model for some. But it maybe is a bit confusing to mention him in this thread unless there is a more subtle point being made here.

Apparently it was too subtle a joke. The subtle point is that Blacks need to find role models outside as well as inside their skin color group. Another subtle point relates to problematic group self identification.

Kindly put his tongue back into his cheek and don't touch it again. :)

Thanks Willitts, you completely understood my intent, as clumsy as it was. Have a good weekend; you earned it.

Elon Musk? - I don't think he's black. Though he was born in South Africa.

I think you missed the point, which is blacks descended from american slaves will be a minority (although a large minority) within African Americans in a generation.

I think you missed the point, which is blacks descended from american slaves will be a minority (although a large minority) within African Americans in a generation.


"An astounding 66 percent of blacks born between 1985 and 2000 live in neighborhoods as poor or poorer as those of their parents."

What does this mean?

Does that mean that 66% of blacks born between 1985 and 2000 live in neighbourhoods as poor as the 1950 or 1960s neighbourhoods? (which I find difficult to believe - presumably the average wealth has increased something in the intervening 40 years)


Does it mean that 66% of blacks born in recent decades are in a lower or similar quintile? (or other relative placing)

If it is the second, then, excluding migration, aren't 50% of all people in all societies born in a neighbourhood that is as poor or poorer than their parents?

Without looking at the source (as one assumes TC has) it is impossible to know how "poor or poorer neighborhood" was defined, but the graph TC links indicates a definition of neighborhood poverty in terms of the percentage of people in that neighborhood (how are boundaries drawn around neighborhoods?) who are "poor" (presumably below some poverty line).

It may be true, assuming zero or negative per capita income growth or wealth accumulation (which has in fact been the reality in the US since 1970 for all but the 3% upper tail which has absorbed 100% of income growth) that half of all people are born in a neighborhood that is poor or poorer than their parents, but the same statement is not true for any subset of all people. If you consider the poorest at birth, for example, and if there is a reasonable level of mobility, then most of those born poor would not be poor as adults; some of those who were born well-off would have replaced them at the bottom.

Black population went from 18 to 34 million fro 1960 to 2010. White population grew from 153 to 211 million from 1960 to 200. That's 93% and 37% increase respectively...........resource allocation is the key. Black have less income, more progeny, less resources for child development. You can not blame the whites for having less kids and investing more on each one of them.

Axa, what is the source of your inferences?

I am virtually certain that this claim is about concentration of poverty, rather than about absolute standard of living. That is, said 66% of blacks born between 1985 and 2000 probably do not have lower standards of living than their parents, but rather live in neighborhoods where a higher percentage of the residents are classified as poor according to whatever standard is being used here (probably relative). Basically, the poor (or at least poor blacks) are more concentrated than they were a generation ago, but not necessarily poorer.

Fertility and birth rates? On 1970 fertility rate was 84 for whites and 115 for black, today they're similar. However, birth rate has not converged yet, cause on average the black population is younger.

2014 is not a good time to check if the wealth gap between blacks and whites has became smaller or not, wait until 2030-2035 when the decline in fertility shows its effects.

"neighborhood effects"? If we're considering *effects*, we should at least compare *expected mobility given neighborhood type* for the different races. And we should look at achievement gaps when controlling for neighborhood type and SES (probably neighborhood x binned SES combos?). That's not hard--of course they should further try to control for latent ability if that's possible. But since the first two comparisons are not even mentioned, the "single fact that powerfully explains" headline is kind of objectionable.

Discrimination seems pretty bad based on the black renters study. Now if we had any causal evidence on the neighborhood effects...I'm sure it's out there and it explains some of the outcome badness, but do they "powerfully explain" 100% of the variance, as Bouie implies?

Does no one bother to read the literature before making comments about what the literature must say? Sigh.

Not surprising given how many do time early in life, and how a criminal record keeps you away from many jobs, imagining that you had a network to help you get into those jobs (since with a criminal record you will clearly need a strong personal recommendation ... not easily found in the hood if you want to get into KPMG, for example).

May I go so far as to suggest that a) maybe there's a reason black youth are angry about some things, and b) maybe crime rates are high because black youth get more scrutiny.

Sometimes obvious things need to be repeated again, and again, and again.

In Africa, it's actually pretty safe as long as you stay away from wars, or night time in capital cities. Most people couldn't afford a gun in the first place, so what's the worry :) More likely you will part with your dollars willingly after negotiation with some smooth operator. If I ran a a major company, I would probably make sure to have a black guy on the board, and give him the title Smooth Operator, charged with promoting B2B value chains.

In Africa, it’s actually pretty safe as long as you stay away from wars, or night time in capital cities.

Chuckles. Homicide rates in Southern Africa run to about 30 per 100,000 on average and those East Africa, Equatorial Africa, and West Africa to about 15 per 100,000. There are Latin American and Caribbean countries which are more of a public order disaster, but that's the best you can say.

The sociologist is engaging in gamesmanship.

can anyone cite studies in journals which are not devoted to dogmatic ideological positions ( either left or right) about whether the economic backwardness of African Americans is due to a) discrimination, b) environment or c) "its their own fault".

According to that paper of Raj Chetty's et al white "social mobility" has seemingly declined more than for other minorities (some of which might actually be positive) over the past few decades.

As these results completely don't line up with that this really points at methodological issues from everyone quoting numbers like this. "Social mobility" is in fact ill-defined by multiple academic authors. Questionable classifications of social mobility all around. By setting your cutoffs at quartiles or quintiles or whatever and other manipulations to butcher the data in a particular way you can get multiple contradictory sounding results.

Fine spectacle to see so many white hoods out for a ride here.

I don't have data (do your own research if you care) but I'll wager the pattern is very similar for White poverty in Appalachia, throughout rural America, and in the deindustrialized towns of e.g. Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, which obviously have gotten dramatically poorer over the same time frame. The same trends which have immiserated millions of formerly prosperous skilled and semi-skilled blue collars have also diminished opportunities for those a rung below them on the SES ladder.

But I'm not sure what's so "astounding" about 66% of any group living in "neighborhoods as poor or poorer as those of their parents." As for the graph TC references, it appears to document a very slight decrease in Black neighborhood poverty from 1970 to 2000, and a much larger increase in White neighborhood poverty.

Mark Gubrud June 27, 2014 at 11:12 pm

Fine spectacle to see so many white hoods out for a ride here. I don’t have data (do your own research if you care)

I am sorry but did you just say you don't have a clue what you're talking about but you know we are all racists? You know 1984 was a warning, not a how-to guide, right?

I did not say I don't have a clue, I gave you a clue. If you think I'm wrong (i.e. the same statistics for Whites and other groups are significantly different) and want to prove it, go fetch the numbers.

Of course, if the numbers did show that getting out of neighborhoods where poverty exists is less frequent for Blacks than for Whites, one reasonable hypothesis would be that this has something to do with the phenomenon on display in this thread - what would you call it?

As usual, the only minority being discussed here is the black one. Try, somehow, not to forget that until their emancipation black slaves were valuable pieces of property. There was no government or private effort to exterminate them. Another minority, the native Americans, were the targets of an official government policy to kill them and take their land, a policy that began in the 16th century and continued into the twentieth. Even today a significant proportion of these natives that were lucky enough to be born because their ancestors escaped murder or disease are consigned to remote and inhospitable reservations that are a tiny fraction of what they once knew as home. But, for political reasons, we worry about African-Americans, even though one who purports to be one, holds the highest elected office in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Chuck, the large Native American reservations are another example where I expect less than half have been upwardly mobile over a generation. The discrimination they face is not quite as severe as for Blacks but their isolation is greater. You seem to have a lot to learn about the nature of slavery based on your "valuable property" characterization of it, and you betray no understanding of conditions Blacks faced during the 100 years following the Civil War let alone what they face today. Obama, of course, is half-White by parentage and was raised entirely by his White mother's family, so he is hardly representative, but you can read his account of his struggle both internally and with the society he was ultimately so successful in navigating.

Was there some kind of a refutation of what I said in your response?

I'm sorry, were you asking for a refutation?

I don't know, saying you have no data but you're sure about something anyway looks a lot like not having a clue to me.

I do not doubt that the collapse of marriage means that a lot of poor White children remain poor. Why would I dispute that? It is obvious.

I am not sure that always falling back on claims about racism is sensible much less defensible. Although it does seem to make you feel better. Whether or not racism is on display here is the point - you continue to assume it even though you admit you have no evidence to make any sort of meaningful contribution much less refute any points raised so far. Which is odd.

We have two culturally and genetically distinct populations. They have different outcomes. You could claim that racism is to blame. Or you could say that culture matters and of course you are going to have two distinct outcomes. America has a Polish American community and a Jewish American community. I am willing to bet that genetically it is hard to tell them apart. But culturally, less so. I am also willing to bet that they have radically different socio-economic outcomes. And I don't think it is discrimination against Pollacks that is to blame. For that matter, the Jewish American community is sub-divided with Hassidic Jews having much worse outcomes than secular ones. I don't think it is hatred of the Frum community that is causing it. What do you think?

So no, I do not think it is sensible to reach for racism as an explanation every time you come across a Hate Fact.

So Much, why would I need to make "claims" about your racism when you display it so plainly?

It does not matter whether your racist ideology invokes "culture" or "genetics," as if you understood either. It is just a dressing for your rage.

The white underclass certainly has been hit by this. Maybe not as hard, but enough to warrant attention. Whatever political organizations defending their status don't seem to have as much publicity as ones for blacks it seems.

It is amazing how racist some of these comments are...seriously...

In what way?

Flashing the racist accusation is the technique used to terminate an argument when the facts aren't in your favor.

Ans yet the black homicide rate has been falling.

But the poverty rate among blacks has been dropping and so have the crime rates. So have birth rates. Some of the gaps in education have also closed somewhat like the NAEP and graduation rates.

Wealth has increased too but so has the gap, but I think thats including the extremely rich 1% like Bill gates.

You can check these just by checking all these graphs.

Murder rates have gone down by a big margin. It seems as though the murder rate spiked and peaked for young blacks during the 90s, been going down since then. Must have been the drug epidemic. The most murderous countries have drugs.

From coming to a country as slaves who had absolutely nothing, not even a common language since they came from many different tribes in West Africa to having billionares is a great thing. I mean they came as slaves, SLAVES. Not for a job that paid you, no isntead it was chains and 100% of your work goes to your OWNER. Also after the slavery they faced even more bad treatment as an entire group for about 300 years. At least Jews and Asians like Chinese came for a job or as refugees. At least Jews could just pass themselves off as the majority in most cases just by looks. Black people couldn't.

Just saying.

Just a quick fix to my comment they were not treated badly after slavery for 300 years. The 300 was supposed to be including the slavery. Also I know that some blacks owned slaves, but too few and irrelevant.

Comments for this post are closed