I have a feeling that white-dominated states of the USA have lower murder rates. For example, I checked the states in the USA with the lowest murder rates and they all have an overwhelmingly white majority (e.g., New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, etc.).

Am I missing something?

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    Yes, but you may want to read my philosophy.stackexchange.com/a/48921 to understand why this observation is itself racist Commented May 28, 2022 at 13:44
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    That almost belongs here: tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations
    – Brian Z
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 14:06
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    @BrianZ - The correlation is certainly not spurious—that is, a high percentage of Black people certainly are arrested and convicted of violent crimes, and this is not a coincidence caused by data randomness—but one has to understand the context, instead of trying to draw a causal line between race and criminality as I suspect the question author wants to do. For instance, arrest and conviction rates are disparate, to start with: surveys of marijuana use have shown that Black and White people are roughly equally likely to use it, but Black people are more likely to be arrested.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 15:36
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    And furthermore, as mentioned in Phillip's answer, racism has led to more poverty and social exclusion among communities of color in the US than among Whiter communities. As noted by sociologist Emile Durkheim, this leads to what he termed "innovation": the use of strategies such as illegal actions to achieve success when denied the opportunity to achieve it through socially accepted means. In other words, the effects of racism make crimes like theft, selling drugs, and gang-related crimes more relatively profitable, and also increase related crimes (e.g. organized crime violence).
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 15:40
  • @Obie2.0 The very definition of "spurious correlation" is "a connection between variables which appears to be causal but is not", so your argument reads as "It's definitely not spurious correlation, so now let me detail how it is exactly spurious correlation". Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 7:02

2 Answers 2


Yes, and it is a very well-known fact that in the United States, people of color statistically commit more violent crimes per capita than white people. For example, in 2019, over 50% of all homicide convictions were black people, while they are only 12% of the population.

But before abusing those statistics to incite any racist thought, it is important to consider socioeconomic factors. Around the world, crime rate also correlates with income. Poor strata of society always commit more crimes and low-income areas experience higher degrees of violence. This is true no matter where on the world you look.

And due to the segregation period, black communities in the United States are still poor communities to this day. Labor laws during segregation barred black citizens from many higher-paying careers, preventing black families from building wealth in the same way white families could. And strategies like redlining concentrated black citizens in certain areas of cities, which were then neglected by city planners and discriminated by financial service providers. The after-effects of this period still affect black communities today and are the main reason why cities in the United States have large quarters populated with predominantly poor people of color and which experience high crime rate.

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    "black communities in the United States are still poor communities": this is not only a lingering effect of segregation but also a result of ongoing discrimination.
    – phoog
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 10:56
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    Rereading this answer, I realize that it incorrectly uses the conviction rate for homicide to support an assertion about the commission rate of violent crime. Even if we ignore the difference between "homicide" and "violent crime," we cannot assume in the face of racial discrimination that those committing homicides are convicted at the same rate nor that wrongful conviction occurs at the same rate regardless of race.
    – phoog
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 17:44
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    @phoog Unfortunately it's impossible to get reliable statistics on people who commit crimes and don't get caught. And wrongful convictions can only show up in statistics when they get overturned. So the conviction number is the best I can do here.
    – Philipp
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 21:45
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    Sure, but in doing so one ought to point out that the conviction rate is potentially directly affected by racial discrimination (as well as indirectly by financial means). What percentage of accused are convicted? What percentage of homicides are found by police or prosecutors to be justified, resulting in no charges at all? How does that break down by race and by affluence? What percentage of exonerated convicts are black? How many of the related crimes were committed by white people?
    – phoog
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 22:20
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    The economic shortcomings in black communities does not neatly explain the 5x disparity in crime convictions. For example Poor white kids are less likely to go to prison than rich black kids.
    – user2578
    Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 17:31

Yes, there is a large correlation.

There is nothing special about the race. The same correlation will be found for any characteristic that tends to represent the circle of family and friends.

While crime study isn't hard science, there's little doubt that people are more likely to commit crimes if they grow up in dysfunctional families or are surrounded by peers disaffected by the society.

So, for example, the crime rates among the whites are highly correlated to whether their older relatives or their neighbors or classmates were involved in crimes.

As we know, despite the many decades of efforts, our society has not yet fixed the huge inequality in how different people are brought up. Therefore, the correlation between race and crime will likely persist until ever person, regardless of their community, skin color, or income level, has high quality childhood experience brought by good role models inside and outside of home.

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