Social Structure, Race/Ethnicity and Homicide (Updated)

Creation Year
Thursday, January 1, 2015 - 12:00
Year of most recent data
Saturday, January 1, 2000 - 12:00


Learning Goals


Learning about survey methodology and sampling methods

Using software to access and analyze census data Identifying independent and dependent variables

Learning how to construct, read, and interpret bivariate tables displaying frequencies and percentages


To examine differences in selected structural positions of Blacks, Whites and Latinos in the United States that may help explain long-standing differences in their murder rates

Context for Use

This activity is used in a Criminology/Sociology of Violence class for undergraduate students. This activity looks at a variety of factors to determine if there are differences in these variables between Blacks, Whites and Latinos that would provide possible explanations for the higher murder rates for Blacks and Latinos in the United States.


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As discussed, the murder rates for Blacks in the United States are substantially higher than those for Whites, with Latino murder rates falling in the middle. These differences have existed throughout the 20th and into the 21st century and, with few exceptions, are found in different sections of the United States. Although biological and genetic explanations for racial differences in crime rates, including murder, have been discredited and are no longer accepted by most criminologists, both cultural and structural theories are widespread in the literature on crime and violence. It is also important to remember that Latino is an ethnic rather than a racial classification.

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity uses two customized data sets made from the 2000 census. It guides students through data manipulation using WebCHIP software found at DataCounts!. To open WebCHIP with the dataset for the activity, please see instructions and links in the exercise documents under teaching materials. For more information on how to use WebCHIP, see the How To section on DataCounts!

References and Resources