U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Urban Black Violence - The Effect of Male Joblessness and Family Disruption

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1987
25 pages
This paper examines the relationships among unemployment, crime, and family disruption in the black 'underclass.' The main hypothesis tested is that the effect of black adult male joblessness on black crime is mediated largely through its effects on family disruption.
The study examines race-specific rates of robbery and homicide by juveniles and adults in over 150 U.S. cities in 1980. The results show that the scarcity of employed black men increases the prevalence of families headed by females in black communities. In turn, black family disruption substantially increases the rates of black murder and robbery, especially by juveniles. These effects are independent of income, region, race and age composition, density, city size, and welfare benefits and are similar to the effects of white family disruption on white violence. It is concluded that there is nothing inherent in black culture that is conducive to crime. Rather, persistently high rates of black crime appear to stem from the structural linkages among unemployment, economic deprivation, and family disruption in urban black communities. 1 figure, 26 footnotes, and about 80 references. (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1987