A shocking analysis done by the New York Times reveals that about 1.5 million black men are “missing” from everyday life. But when most people think of ‘missing’ they immediately think of kidnapping. These men are missing due to incarceration, early death, and overseas deployment. The report also showed some startling numbers when it comes to the ratio of black men to black women. There are only 83 black men for every 100 black women, compared to a 99 to 100 ratio among whites.
For example in Ferguson, MO. there, as many as 40 black men are missing there per 100 black women. North Charleston, the South Carolina city where a cop shot and killed another unarmed black man earlier this month, is missing a quarter of its black men.
As a rough estimate, it seems likely that mortality accounts for roughly half of the remaining 900,000 missing men, but we would not be surprised if the true answer fell anywhere between one-third (300,000) and three-quarters (almost 700,000).
After mortality and incarceration, other factors play smaller roles. There are more black men than women deployed in the military overseas, for example, but the difference is not large in terms of raw numbers. There are also more female black immigrants living in this country. The Census Bureau’s undercounting of both African-Americans and men also appears to play a role.
One factor that may play a larger role than many people realize is the so-called sex ratio at birth. As in other demographic groups, more black boys than girls are born. But the difference is smaller than for other groups. For every 1,000 black babies, slightly more are female than among 1,000 white or Asian babies. Over the entire population, the difference is enough to leave tens of thousands — and perhaps into six figures — of fewer black prime-age men than there would be if the sex ratio at birth were the same as for other groups.
It’s worth noting, as our main article does, that there is also a gap between prime-age white men and women. This gap is also caused mostly by higher mortality and incarceration rates among men. But the gap among whites is of an entirely different magnitude than the gap among blacks. There are 1 percent more prime-age white women living outside of jail, compared with 21 percent more prime-age black women than men.