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Study on racial discrimination and crime published in Social Science Research

Dan Herda (Sociology, Merrimack College; UCDavis sociology, class of 2013) and Bill McCarthy’s paper, “No Experience Required: Violent Crime and Anticipated, Vicarious, and Experienced Racial Discrimination” is now available online at This paper adds to the growing body of evidence linking racial discrimination and juvenile crime. It uses Robert Agnew’s general strain theory and extends prior research by moving from a focus on experienced discrimination to consider two other forms, anticipated and vicarious discrimination. Using data on black, white, and Hispanic youth, from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN), Herda and McCarthy find that experienced, anticipated, and to a lesser extent, vicarious discrimination, significantly predict violent crime independent of a set of neighborhood, parental, and individual level controls, including prior violent offending. Additional analyses on the specific contexts of discrimination reveal that violence is associated with the anticipation of police discrimination. The effects tend to be larger for African American than Hispanic youth, but the differences are not statistically significant. These findings support the thesis that, like other strains, discrimination may not have to be experienced directly to influence offending.