Due to current events, this post, which needs updating in its numbers, which awaits the FBI updates, is highly relevant. This post first ran 27 January 2013.
Blacks who commit homicide do so at a rate about 7.5 times larger than whites who commit homicide. The trend in black homicide correlates well with the change in overall homicide. This disparity also exists for other crimes: blacks commit them at about 7-10 times the rates of whites.
Going on a suggestion made by reader JH when we first examined the homicide statistics1, I put both races together on one plot to make comparisons fair.
First is the homicide rate for Blacks and Whites, over-plotted with the homicide victim rate for both groups, finally over-plotted with the overall homicide rate (taken from the post on guns and homicides).
Note that the blue line is scaled to the right vertical axis, and is the overall homicide rate (as estimated by the FBI and Census). The black lines are killers, and the red victims. The dashed are Blacks, the solid Whites. (See this post for separate pictures of each race, where the general decline of White homicide rates, and its slight upward bump in 1990 is more visible.)
Obviously, the overall homicide rate correlates nicely with the Black rates. In an odd coincidence, according to the FBI the number of Black victims is almost identical to the number of White victims.
Whatever is happening in Black populations is largely responsible for the decline in homicide rates.
One thing is more or less constant: the rates for Black killers are much higher than for White killers, as this picture which shows the ratio of rates demonstrates:
Rates bob around, but average out to about 7.5 times higher.
Perhaps the difference lies in who is killing whom. Lumping all the Black and White homicides together, here are the percentages of Blacks killing Whites and White killing Blacks:
Racial animosity is on the rise, homicidally speaking. This will come as no surprise to anybody who isn’t an NPR listener. More Blacks kill Whites than the reverse, which strangely is exactly what you don’t hear on TV. Update Perhaps this trend will escalate, given the media’s glee in stoking racial discontent.
Lastly, here are the percentages for the races killing each other:
Update Fig. 2 with new axes limits.
Update Breakdown of male (Figure A1) and female (Figure A2) Black and White homicide rates. Note the change in scale between the sexes. Males are about 10 times as homicidal as females.
The ratio of Black to White, by sex and age group, is also interesting.
Black males maintain a consistent edge over White males, homicidally speaking, regardless of age group. Though the gap is closing, or at least leveling off, for females.