Do Poor People Have a 'Crime Gene'? The Economist says Maybe

Do Poor People Have a 'Crime Gene'? The Economist says Maybe

Science is, like, totally racist. That’s the message we’ve been getting recently, from the relatively new science of genomics, which is revealing that race is indeed biological and not a “social construct” as it’s fashionable to claim, and from large-scale psychological studies, which show that there might be genetic reasons why crime is persistently high in poor areas.

The latter discovery, explored by the Economist last week, makes for uncomfortable reading for progressives, who believe that the more money you pour into an area, the better you make life for everyone in that community. Not so, if there is indeed a crime gene. What the latest study in Stockholm proved was that the relationship between poverty and crime is more complicated than researchers originally thought, and that, perhaps, genetic predispositions toward crime are what make areas poor, and not the other way around. 

Because although teenagers in the study who grew up in poor families were seven times more likely to commit violent crime and twice as likely to be caught with drugs, there was no change in behaviour among kids whose families had got significantly wealthier than they started off. Regardless of age and changing wealth, children in problem families were just as likely to get into trouble with the law.

There might be a cultural influence, too. An individual family’s culture could be set in stone – “sticky,” as the Economist puts it: “You can take the kid out of the neighbourhood, but not the neighbourhood out of the kid.” What seems ever more likely is that genes that determine criminal propensity and “lack of impulse control,” which several studies have now concluded probably do exist, are more reliable indicators of behaviour than wealth. And that the problem is compounded by rotten family habits across generations.

In other words, topping up the benefits of areas where there are significant crime problems is a waste of the taxpayer’s money, and crime-ridden communities are likely over time to get worse, not better. It’s yet another area in which common-sense attitudes are being proven right by science, and in which progressive types are finding research flatly contradicting dogma.

Where is all of this leading us? Well. If these behaviours are indeed genetic, it stands to reason that there will be identifiable differences between different communities, countries, and, yes, even races. The Economist, of course, stops short of drawing that conclusion. But liberals face a miserable future, in which racists can claim the science is backing up their crude prejudices about people with different skin colour. As unsettling as that seems to many of us, it is where the latest research is pointing.