Variation in African-American homicide rates: An assessment of potential explanations

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Using 1990 data for 222 metropolitan areas, this study extends the traditional variables examined in models of homicide and uses regression analysis to test the viability of three alternative theories that may explain high rates of African-American homicide victimization. The first approach examines the extent to which weak forms of social control have contributed to high homicide rates. The second approach tests the notion that discrimination and inequality have increased levels of absolute and relative deprivation for blacks, which in turn engender frustration and contribute to higher levels of violence. The third approach posits that engagement in violent activity may be a rational act for young African-American males faced with the reality of highly limited economic opportunities. While all three approaches contribute to explaining high African-American homicide, this study shows the greatest support for the social control explanation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-560
Number of pages34
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1997
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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