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The Prison Boom and the Lack of Black Progress after Smith and Welch

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  • Derek Neal
  • Armin Rick

Abstract

More than two decades ago, Smith and Welch (1989) used the 1940 through 1980 census files to document important relative black progress. However, recent data indicate that this progress did not continue, at least among men. The growth of incarceration rates among black men in recent decades combined with the sharp drop in black employment rates during the Great Recession have left most black men in a position relative to white men that is really no better than the position they occupied only a few years after the Civil Rights Act of 1965. A move toward more punitive treatment of arrested offenders drove prison growth in recent decades, and this trend is evident among arrested offenders in every major crime category. Changes in the severity of corrections policies have had a much larger impact on black communities than white communities because arrest rates have historically been much greater for blacks than whites.

Suggested Citation

  • Derek Neal & Armin Rick, 2014. "The Prison Boom and the Lack of Black Progress after Smith and Welch," NBER Working Papers 20283, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20283
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Steven Raphael, 2014. "The New Scarlet Letter? Negotiating the U.S. Labor Market with a Criminal Record," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number nsc, November.
    2. Yang, Crystal S., 2017. "Local labor markets and criminal recidivism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 16-29.
    3. repec:eee:econom:v:203:y:2018:i:1:p:129-142 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Linda Bailey, 2014. "The Glass Ceiling and Relative Arrest Rates of Blacks Compared to Whites," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 411-432, December.
    5. D’Haultfœuille, Xavier & Maurel, Arnaud & Zhang, Yichong, 2018. "Extremal quantile regressions for selection models and the black–white wage gap," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 203(1), pages 129-142.
    6. Nezih Guner & Christopher Rauh & Elizabeth Caucutt, 2017. "Is Marriage for White People? Incarceration and the Racial Marriage Divide," 2017 Meeting Papers 779, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Leonard Goff & John F. Helliwell & Guy Mayraz, 2016. "The Welfare Costs of Well-being Inequality," NBER Working Papers 21900, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Evan Taylor & Bryan Stuart, 2017. "The Effect of Social Connectedness on Crime: Evidence from the Great Migration," Working Papers 2017-24, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    9. Cherry, Robert & Wang, Chun, 2016. "The link between male employment and child maltreatment in the U.S., 2000–2012," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 117-122.
    10. Heeju Sohn, 2017. "Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Insurance Coverage: Dynamics of Gaining and Losing Coverage Over the Life-Course," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 36(2), pages 181-201, April.
    11. Patrick Bayer & Kerwin Kofi Charles, 2016. "Divergent Paths: Structural Change, Economic Rank, and the Evolution of Black-White Earnings Differences, 1940-2014," NBER Working Papers 22797, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law

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