Friday, July 1, 2011

Oakland's Shocking Demographic Shift

I know it's not as exciting and seemingly timely a topic as budget chest thumping by the city council, but the most important article to come out in months is right here.

I assume no one has talked about this article either because they're not sure what to say or because of political correctness.

For those of you who chose not to read it, the census reported that the population of black youth in Oakland dropped by 42.3 percent from 2000 to 2010. This mirrors the trends we've seen in enrollments at Oakland Unified, where something like 25 percent of the black population is gone, replaced largely by hispanics and others.

But it does more than mirror it. 42.3 percent is an enormous number. It's unprecedented, really. Oakland's decline mirrors that in New Orleans, according to the article, where Katrina literally forced thousands of people to leave the city.

As always, I'm not a big fan of how our media sorts everything by race, but the data is here. As everyone knows, young blacks commit a hugely disproportionate share of crimes in Oakland, and their scores on standardized tests tend to be substantially lower.

All of this makes me very curious as to what the next 10 years hold for Oakland. We already know that much of the traditional black political base has eroded. But that goes along with the much more moderate decline in overall black population.

This huge drop in the child population could mean much more rapid gentrification for the city. The reason is that the next demographic up in terms of age (early 20s) is really the sweet spot for criminality. Reducing that demographic substantially can't help but  reduce crime in the coming years.

I don't know what role this plays in the current battles over police staffing. I do know that no one will discuss it in this context, for obvious reasons. The only feedback you will see in the popular media is people like Jean Quan describing the shift as a "problem."

For me, it's kind of hard to see it as a problem. I own property here, and I know that its value will increase if crime decreases. And frankly I suspect a lot of the people of all races still living here feel exactly the same way, even if political correctness prevents them from saying it out loud.

My prediction is a steep drop in crime over then next five to 10 years, followed by pronouncements from the cops about how they became "more efficient and effective." The truth will be far simpler -- demographics is destiny. Don't believe me? Take a drive through our local segregated enclave, Piedmont.