No Experience Required: Violent Crime and Anticipated, Vicarious, and Experienced Racial Discrimination

Document Type

Article - Merrimack Access Only

Publication Title

Social Science Research

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

There is a growing body of evidence linking racial discrimination and juvenile crime, and a number of theories explain this relationship. In this study, we draw on one popular approach, Agnew's general strain theory, and extend 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), we 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.