An important but unreported indicator of Ferguson’s dilemma is that half of young African American men are missing from the community. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, while there are 1,182 African American women between the ages of 25 and 34 living in Ferguson, there are only 577 African American men in this age group. In other words there are more than two young black women for each young black man in Ferguson. The problem of missing black men extends to other age groups. More than 40% of black men in both the 20 to 24 and 35 to 54 age groups in Ferguson are missing.
It is worth noting that there are approximately equal numbers of African American boys and girls, under the age of 20, in Ferguson (2,332 boys and 2,341 girls). What has happened to young African American men in Ferguson? There are several possibilities. First, the Census counts only the civilian population, and excludes individuals serving in the Armed Forces. Second, tragically, some of these young men have already died. Third, Census figures do not include individuals who are incarcerated at the time of the survey. Finally, the Census Bureau may undercount homeless men, men who are marginally attached to the community, and men who are primarily engaged in criminal behavior.
That is from Stephen Broners, fascinating throughout. Note that the possibility of differential rates of incarceration does not in general account for the gap, though it likely explains part of the discrepancy.