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Crime and Immigration: Evidence from Large Immigrant Waves

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Author Info

  • Brian Bell

    ()
    (London School of Economics)

  • Stephen Machin

    ()
    (University College London, London School of Economics)

  • Francesco Fasani

    ()
    (University College London)

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between immigration and crime in a setting where large migration flows offer an opportunity to carefully appraise whether the populist view that immigrants cause crime is borne out by rigorous evidence. We consider possible crime effects from two large waves of immigration that recently occurred in the UK. The first of these was the late 1990s/early 2000s wave of asylum seekers, and the second the large inflow of workers from EU accession countries that took place from 2004. A simple economics of crime model, when dovetailed with facts about the relative labour market position of these migrant groups, suggests net returns to criminal activity are likely to be very different for the two waves. In fact, we show that the first wave led to a small rise in property crime, whilst the second wave had no such impact. There was no observable effect on violent crime for either wave. Nor were immigrant arrest rates different to natives. Evidence from victimization data also suggests that the changes in crime rates during the immigrant waves cannot be ascribed to crimes against immigrants. Overall, our findings suggest that focusing on the limited labour market opportunities of asylum seekers could have beneficial effects on crime rates.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London in its series CReAM Discussion Paper Series with number 1012.

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Date of creation: May 2010
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Handle: RePEc:crm:wpaper:1012

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Keywords: crime; immigration;

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  1. Timothy Hatton, 2008. "The Rise and Fall of Asylum: What Happened and Why?," CEPR Discussion Papers, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University 577, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  2. repec:pse:psecon:2008-05 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 2007. "Why are Immigrants' Incarceration Rates so Low? Evidence on Selective Immigration, Deterrence, and Deportation," NBER Working Papers 13229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. DavidG. Blanchflower & Chris Shadforth, 2009. "Fear, Unemployment and Migration," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(535), pages F136-F182, 02.
  5. Card, David, 2004. "Is the New Immigration Really So Bad?," IZA Discussion Papers 1119, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Eric D. Gould & Bruce A. Weinberg & David B. Mustard, 2002. "Crime Rates And Local Labor Market Opportunities In The United States: 1979-1997," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 45-61, February.
  7. Edin, Per-Anders & Fredriksson, Peter & Åslund, Olof, 2000. "Ethnic Enclaves and the Economic Success of Immigrants - Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Working Paper Series, Uppsala University, Department of Economics 2000:21, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  8. Milo Bianchi & Paolo Buonanno & Paolo Pinotti, 2012. "Do Immigrants Cause Crime?," Working Papers, HAL halshs-00670036, HAL.
  9. Christian Dustmann & Tommaso Frattini & Ian Preston, 2008. "The Effect of Immigration along the Distribution of Wages," CReAM Discussion Paper Series, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London 0803, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  10. Alan B. Krueger & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1995. "A Statistical Analysis of Crime Against Foreigners in Unified Germany," Working papers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics 95-15, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Lemos, Sara & Portes, Jonathan, 2008. "New Labour? The Impact of Migration from Central and Eastern European Countries on the UK Labour Market," IZA Discussion Papers 3756, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Steve Machin & Costas Meghir, 2000. "Crime and economic incentives," IFS Working Papers, Institute for Fiscal Studies W00/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  13. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1997. "Recent Immigrants: Unexpected Implications for Crime and Incarceration," NBER Working Papers 6067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
  16. David Card, 1996. "Immigrant Inflows, Native Outflows, and the Local Labor Market Impacts of Higher Immigration," Working Papers, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. 747, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  17. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00586864 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
  19. Freeman, Richard B., 1999. "The economics of crime," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 52, pages 3529-3571 Elsevier.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Immigrants and crime
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-07-26 14:19:00
  2. Crime and Immigration: Evidence from Large Immigrant Waves
    by Ariel Goldring in Free Market Mojo on 2010-06-30 09:49:26
  3. Brottsliga invandrare?
    by Niclas Berggren in Nonicoclolasos on 2010-08-04 03:13:47
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