Deprivation and race riots: An extension of Spilerman's analysis
Many scholars currently link the growth of a black underclass to the persistence of racial tensions and riots in American cities. However, nearly all previous systematic studies of race riots refute these claims. We propose an alternative explanation that rests on competition processes. In this article we extend Spilerman's 1971 analysis of community characteristics and race riots to include 1954-93. Our results parallel earlier ones that found little evidence that black poverty or racial disparities in income, education, and occupation caused race riots. Furthermore, we find that the effects of black poverty are generally opposite from what most deprivation theories would lead us to expect. Both low income for blacks and dilapidated housing significantly depress the rate of racial unrest. Finally, we find that competition that is expressed as the contraction of job opportunities for minorities created by demographic pressures and unemployment significantly increases the rate of race riots.
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