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February 23, 2019

"There's a gender imbalance in many African-American neighborhoods. Mass incarceration is largely to blame."

The title of this post is the sub-headline of this new Governing piece with the main headline "Where Have All the Black Men Gone?." Here is an excerpt:

Governing reviewed the latest population estimates for all black adults ages 18 to 64 in Census tracts where they totaled at least 2,000. In those neighborhoods, there were only a median of 81 black men for every 100 black women. The imbalance was greatest in 380 neighborhoods, where there were fewer than two adult black men for every three adult black women under age 65. In contrast to the numbers for adults, Census estimates show that nationally, there are marginally more African-American boys than girls under age 18....

The single biggest driver behind the absence of many black men is mass incarceration. A few academics have held up ratios of black men to women as a proxy for incarceration. Despite recent declines in prison populations, disparities remain massive. African-American males are imprisoned in state and federal facilities at six times the rate of white men, and about 25 times that of black women, according to figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Black men, underrepresented in the overwhelming majority of neighborhoods, are instead heavily concentrated in relatively few places, and those tend to be home to prisons. We identified 79 such Census tracts with more than twice as many black men as women....

The ramifications of all this are far-reaching. Partners and families of the “missing men” face a host of negative social and economic consequences, such as a shortage of income and assets.  Huge numbers of women have ties to incarcerated family members: One in every 2.5 black women has a family member in prison, more than three times the number for white women, according to a Scholars Strategy Network report.  For children, research suggests growing up with an incarcerated parent increases the likelihood of learning disabilities, behavioral problems and other challenges.

February 23, 2019 at 04:49 PM | Permalink


This mass-incarceration gender imbalance is not unlike what happened in England and France after World War I, because an entire generation of young men was killed off. There were not enough young men to mate with all of those young women. How Mother nature deals with mating and reproduction is fascinating. If one understands the basics of genetics (X and Y chromosomes), there should be 100 baby girls born for every 100 boys, but there are not. Worldwide, there are 105 boys born for every 100 girls born. Because boys are more likely to die before reaching reproductive age than girls are, the numbers don't equalize until about age 13, when at reproductive age there are, in a state of nature without war, magically 100 boys for every 100 girls. To this day, medical science still cannot explain this phenomenon.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Feb 24, 2019 11:00:42 AM

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