A new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, reported by Vox, draws stark attention to the divide between black and white men in the U.S.
“On any given day in 2010, almost one in ten black men ages 20-39 were institutionalized,” read the report by University of Chicago economists Derek Neal and Armin Rick.
The economists used Census data to investigate black and white men during a period that spanned from 1960 to 2010.
And what they found is that for black men, things are actually worse than they look:
And that 10 percent figure only applies to a given moment in time. The authors go on to point out that because people are entering and leaving prison so often, far more than 10 percent of African-American men are behind bars in any given year. And among certain subsets of that young demographic, the institutionalization rate is above one-quarter.
They learned that beginning in 1970, employment rates fell and incarceration rates began to rise. Men with no high school diplomas between the age of 25 to 29 suffer the highest incarceration rates. According to Vox, “The racial breakdown is staggering, with black young men in this cohort born in 1980 to 1984 more likely to be institutionalized than on the job.”
Another study found that 37 percent of young African-American men who didn’t finish high school were in jail or prison, with only 26 percent employed.
And the upsurge in black incarceration is because of changes within the system, not because of increased criminality among black men:
The recent spike in imprisonment isn’t because young men suddenly started committing lots more crimes, and it’s not that cops suddenly started catching more criminals, as Vox’s Dara Lind writes. Rather, part of it is that prison sentences became both more common and tougher.