How Racist Is America?

Illustration of the flag and map of the United States with the stripes changing to black and white, storm clouds, flames, and symbols representing the black and white population.

Race is a big topic. You hear about it every day, and regardless of your personal feelings, there is no denying that racial tension is a serious issue in America right now. It leads to an inescapable question: Just how racist is the U.S.? In this session, we’ll compare the country to the rest of the developed world in a number of statistics to see just how bad it really is.


As it turns out, the United States is on a very short list of countries that tracks racial statistics. For most of Europe, there are no official numbers on incarceration or employment rates by race. The UK tracks some stats by race, but for countries that don’t, the best we can do is track rates by nationality. Here’s how it breaks down.


The UK is the only country in Europe with racial incarceration statistics. The total black population is 2.7 percent, but the prison population is 13.7 percent black. That breaks down to a ratio of 5.07 to 1. For comparison, the prison to population ratio for white Brits is 0.75.

As for the rest of Europe, the numbers to look at compare citizens to foreigners, and they will shock you. In Germany, 21.7 percent of the prison population consists of foreigners. Keep in mind that Germany is the champion of Syrian refugees and European Union centralism, so seeing such an insane rate is mind blowing.

What is far more surprising is that Germany is one of the best countries in Europe in this metric. More than 15 countries have a foreign incarceration rate that is over 20 percent. The highest is Switzerland with an unimaginable 74.2 percent.

One other notable statistic involves France. While they don’t track racial statistics, they have reported that more than 70 percent of their prison population is Muslim. Considering the country is at most 10 percent Muslim, that makes an incarceration rate of 7 to 1 or higher.


The incarceration rates in Europe are astonishing, but the employment situation isn’t any better. Once again, the UK is the only country with racial stats, so we’ll start there. In this case, all minorities are lumped together in the category of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME). The BAME unemployment has consistently stayed double that of white Brits, while black Brits in particular suffer an unemployment rate that is 2.5 times higher than the national average.

For the rest of Europe, we once again defer to foreign statistics. In Germany, the national unemployment rate is 4.1, but the foreign ratio is 2.02 times higher, at 8.3. In France, the ratio is less incriminating. National unemployment is 10.5, while foreign is 16.7. Across the entire EU, the employment ratio is just under 2 to 1 for foreigners.

Australia and Canada

Australia and Canada have demographics that make for reasonable comparisons to the U.S., but since they aren’t part of the EU, it makes sense to separate their statistics. In Canada, the incarceration of black nationals is 3.33 to 1. In Australia, the black population is negligible, so instead we have to compare aborigine rates. The incarceration rate is 7 to 1, and the unemployment ratio is 3 to 1. Now that we have set major comparisons for the bulk of the developed world, let’s see how the U.S. compares.

United States

You’ve likely seen some of these statistics before, but we’ll hit everything being compared for clarity. Starting with imprisonment, the highest ratio for any demographic is African Americans, and they are incarcerated at a rate of 3.07 to 1. This is still a high ratio, but it’s the lowest of any country that actually measures the statistics.

As for foreign incarceration, the U.S. prison population rate is 0.7 percent, the lowest in any country in the world that measures, and of that population, 58 percent are undocumented immigrants waiting for deportation. So, while it may be arguable that the U.S. justice system is imperfect, it’s the least racist or xenophobic justice system in the world. It’s not close to the best; it is the unparalleled champion.

What about employment? Well, among countries that actually track these statistics, the U.S. is still the best. Once again, African Americans are the most disproportionately represented demographic, and they measure an unemployment rate of 8.5, as compared to the 4.8 for the nation as a whole. This is a disparity ratio of 1.77, which is considerably better than anything measured in Europe or Australia (statistics for Canada were contradictory and thus inadmissible). The employment rate for immigrants is unparalleled, at 5 percent. That leaves a ratio of just 1.04.

Bottom Line

While it shouldn’t be surprising that the U.S. remains the best place in the world for immigrants, the issue of racism is probably surprising. There is no disputing that racial disparity still exists, but American methods are clearly and significantly outpacing the rest of the world.

~Facts Not Memes

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