Family Structure & Crime

An interesting letter on the importance of family structure for children from Lewis I. Dale. From Family Structure Helps Explain Difference in Violence (, 7/14/09):

Radley Balko’s point about immigrants helping to make El Paso, Texas a safe city (“Notable & Quotable,” July 9) is valid, but it doesn’t go far enough in explaining why this might be so.

Since the publication of the 2007 CQ Press survey that labeled Detroit the nation’s “most dangerous” large city, I have worked with a group trying to identify the obstacles to significant crime reduction.

El Paso, the third “safest” city in the survey, is about as poor and the people as undereducated as in Detroit. The most distinctive socioeconomic difference between El Paso and Detroit is the Texas city’s far greater number of married couples as a percentage of total households: 48% versus Detroit’s 24%.

Looking at the 2007 survey’s 10 “safest” and 10 “most dangerous” large cities, the “safest” city, San Jose, Calif. has the highest number of married couples as a percentage of total households; the second “safest,” Honolulu, has the second highest number; the third “safest,” El Paso, the third highest number. The five “most dangerous” large cities have the lowest number of married couples as a percentage of total households. Today, 91,000 of Detroit’s 288,000 households are headed by single females, with no husband present.

Read the full letter here. Thanks to Fathers & Families’ Peter Hill for sending it.

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