Colgate University Libraries


Jess Mawhirt


This paper seeks to further understand the causes of high crime rates among young black men. I have extended the work of Cutler & Glaeser (1997) who determined that blacks in highly segregated metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) have worse outcomes than blacks in less segregated MSAs. One outcome not included in the study is the likelihood of being incarcerated. By obtaining state-level segregation measures and individual level incarceration data from the U.S. Census (1980-2000), I have determined that there is a correlation between these two measures; that black men age 18-65 who live in more segregated states have a higher probability of being in jail than those living in less segregated states. By using an Instrumental Variable, I can determine that this is in fact a causal relationship. Additionally, I examine the mechanism through which segregation influences life incarceration risks of blacks and how improving these areas can have a significant impact on life-trajectories for young black men.