I know, I know: I'm a broken record on the subject of lead exposure in kids and crime rates 20 years later. But there's lately been a renewed focus on black crime and black incarceration rates, as well as the racial profiling of blacks and Hispanics in New York City's stop-and-frisk program. Guess what? The lead theory has something to say about that.
For starters, did you know that arrest rates for violent crime have
fallen much faster among black juveniles than among white juveniles?
They have, as the charts below show. Rick Nevin explains why:
African-American boys disproportionately involved in the criminal
justice system were also disproportionately exposed to lead contaminated
dust as young children, because black children were disproportionately
concentrated in large cities and older housing. In 1976-1980, 15.3% of black children under the age of three had blood lead above 30 mcg/dl (micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood), when just 2.5% of white children had blood lead that high.
In 1988-1991, after the elimination of leaded gasoline, 1.4% of black
children and 0.4% of white children under the age of three had blood
lead above 25 mcg/dl.