Justin Wolfers, David Leonhardt, and Kevin Quealy wrote the following article that provides a unique perspective on the racial disparity in the U.S. criminal justice system. The article appeared in the New York Times on April 20, 2015.
1.5 Million Missing Black Men
For every 100 black women not in jail, there are only 83 black men. The remaining men – 1.5 million of them – are, in a sense, missing. 17 missing black men for every 100 black women.
Among cities with sizable black populations, the largest single gap is in Ferguson, Mo. 40 missing black men for every 100 black women.
North Charleston, S.C., has a gap larger than 75 percent of cities. 25 missing black men for every 100 black women.
This gap – driven mostly by incarceration and early deaths – barely exists among whites. 1 missing white man for every 100 white women.
In New York, almost 120,000 black men between the ages of 25 and 54 are missing from everyday life. In Chicago, 45,000 are, and more than 30,000 are missing in Philadelphia. Across the South — from North Charleston, S.C., through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi and up into Ferguson, Mo. — hundreds of thousands more are missing.
They are missing, largely because of early deaths or because they are behind bars. Remarkably, black women who are 25 to 54 and not in jail outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million, according to an Upshot analysis. For every 100 black women in this age group living outside of jail, there are only 83 black men. Among whites, the equivalent number is 99, nearly parity.
African-American men have long been more likely to be locked up and more likely to die young, but the scale of the combined toll is nonetheless jarring. It is a measure of the deep disparities that continue to afflict black men — disparities being debated after a recent spate of killings by the police — and the gender gap is itself a further cause of social ills, leaving many communities without enough men to be fathers and husbands.
Perhaps the starkest description of the situation is this: More than one out of every six black men who today should be between 25 and 54 years old have disappeared from daily life.