Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Growing up poor, white, and rural appears to have reduced the chances of going to jail as a young adult

Daily Yonder chart; click on the image to enlarge it.
A newly published study found that people who grew up poor and in rural areas were less likely to be in prison during their late 20s and early 30s. Harvard University economists led by Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren used census data and tax returns to track people born in the U.S. between 1978 and 1983 --the so-called Xennials. The economists were able to get informaiton on about 20 million people, 94 percent of the children born in that period, Bill Bishop reports for The Daily Yonder.

"Chetty and Hendren tracked those children over the ensuing decades," Bishop reports. "They could determine the composition of their homes (their income and whether a father and a mother were present). They could see where these children lived. And on April 1, 2010, the economists counted how many of those 20 million people were locked up in jails, prisons or any kind of detention facility. These children would have grown to be between 27 and 32 years old."

The results? Female incarceration among Xennials was consistently low across races and the rural-metropolitan spectrum. But male incarceration rates varied widely. About 20 percent of black males who grew up in the bottom 1 percent of income were in jail in 2010, while only 6.4 percent of their white counterparts were jailed, Bishop reports.

Where Xennial boys grew up mattered too, though the results were skewed by race. That is, boys who grew up in rural areas were less likely to be in jail, but that's because fewer black people live in rural areas, and black incarceration rates were higher across the board. But black rural boys were also less likely to wind up in jail, and those who moved to better areas earlier in childhood had higher incomes and lower incarceration rates as adults, Bishop reports.

"The incarceration rate for young men reared in the most urban counties is 36 percent higher than the rate for men who grew up in the most rural counties. The rate for young black men who grew up in urban centers is 20 percent higher than for those who spent their youth in the most rural counties," Bishop reports. "In general, rural communities are good places for children in poor families to be reared. They earn higher incomes than those who grow up in central cities because of the effects of growing up in rural communities."

The general factors found to make a difference in incarceration rates included having a father present, the average wage in a neighborhood, and living in an area where white residents have low levels of racial bias, the economists found. They haven't studied the difference between rural and urban upbringing only in incarceration rates, Bishop reports.

No comments: