Thursday, April 01, 2021

Culture and Crime

Latzer’s thesis is that such factors as poverty and the rule of law are less relevant to the level of violence in a given place than are the combination of cultures there. Thus, notwithstanding its lawlessness, the Old West was in fact much less violent than we have been led to believe (at least by the end of the nineteenth century). And while most immigrants to the New World experienced similar levels of crushing poverty, crime rates varied widely between them. Newly arriving Jews and Italians were both poor, but Italians were more crime-prone than Jews—indicating, in Latzer’s view, that what matters for criminal offending is the cultural proclivity to violence.

Read the rest of the City Journal review of Barry Latzer's The Roots of Violent Crime in America.

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