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

84 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2014 Last revised: 4 Jun 2021

See all articles by Derek A. Neal

Derek A. Neal

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Armin Rick

University of Chicago

Date Written: July 2014

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

Neal, Derek Allen and Rick, Armin, The Prison Boom and the Lack of Black Progress after Smith and Welch (July 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2471176

Derek Allen Neal (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Armin Rick

University of Chicago

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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