Racial Threat, Concentrated Disadvantage and Types of Race-Specific Drug Arrests: Accounting for the Rise in Drug Arrests From 1980 to 1990

Scott R. Maggard, University of Florida
Karen F. Parker, University of Florida

The racial threat thesis has generated a large body of literature, much of which has solely relied on the size of the black population as indication of threat. Recently researchers have begun to conceptualize the relationship between racial threat and social control in two different ways political threat and economic threat. In this paper, we assess the relationship between political threat and race-specific drug arrests in U.S. cities for 1990. We offer multiple measures of political threat (i.e., beyond the size of the black population) when examining types of race-specific drugs arrests (total, drug sales and drug possession). Additionally, because we are interested in how blacks pose a political threat to whites, which may result in a more disadvantaged urban environment, we take into account the concentration of economic disadvantage among racial groups in our research. Finally, we estimate a dynamic model to determine whether political or economic threat (or both) contributed to the considerable increase in drug arrests from 1980 to 1990.

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Updated 05/20/2006