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Immigration and Crime in Early 20th Century America

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  • Carolyn Moehling
  • Anne Morrison Piehl

Abstract

Research on crime in the late 20th century has consistently shown that immigrants have lower rates of involvement in criminal activity than natives. We find that a century ago immigrants may have been slightly more likely than natives to be involved in crime. In 1904 prison commitment rates for more serious crimes were quite similar by nativity for all ages except ages 18 and 19 when the commitment rate for immigrants was higher than for the native born. By 1930, immigrants were less likely than natives to be committed to prisons at all ages 20 and older. But this advantage disappears when one looks at commitments for violent offenses. Aggregation bias and the absence of accurate population data meant that analysts at the time missed these important features of the immigrant-native incarceration comparison. The relative decline of the criminality of the foreign born reflected a growing gap between natives and immigrants at older ages, one that was driven by sharp increases in the commitment rates of the native born, while commitment rates for the foreign born were remarkably stable.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13576.

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Date of creation: Nov 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13576

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  1. 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.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 1996. "Why Is There More Crime in Cities?," NBER Working Papers 5430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1998. "Cross-city evidence on the relationship between immigration and crime," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(3), pages 457-493.
  4. Kristin Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 2005. "Why are immigrants' incarceration rates so low? evidence on selective immigration, deterrence, and deportation," Working Paper Series WP-05-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1999. "The Role of Deportation in the Incarceration of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 6974, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Milo Bianchi & Paolo Buonanno & Paolo Pinotti, 2012. "Do Immigrants Cause Crime?," Working Papers halshs-00670036, HAL.
  2. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti, 2012. "Legal status and the criminal activity of immigrants," Working Papers 052, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), UniversitĂ  Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
  3. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti, 2011. "Migration Restrictions and Criminal Behavior: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Working Papers 2011.53, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  4. Thomas Bassetti, Luca Corazzini, Darwin Cortes, 2010. "Crime, Immigration and the Labor Market: A General Equilibrium Model," ISLA Working Papers 38, ISLA, Centre for research on Latin American Studies and Transition Economies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
  5. Scott Baker, 2013. "Effects of Immigrant Legalization on Crime: The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act," Discussion Papers 12-012, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  6. Alejandro Gaviria & Carlos Medina & Jorge Tamayo, 2010. "Assessing the Link between Adolescent Fertility and Urban Crime," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 006860, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
  7. Barone, Guglielmo & D'Ignazio, Alessio & de Blasio, Guido & Naticchioni, Paolo, 2014. "Mr. Rossi, Mr. Hu and Politics: The Role of Immigration in Shaping Natives' Political Preferences," IZA Discussion Papers 8228, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti, 2011. "Legal status of immigrants and criminal behavior: evidence from a natural experiment," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 813, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  9. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00586864 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Milo Bianchi & Paolo Buonanno & Paolo Pinotti, 2008. "Immigration and crime: an empirical analysis," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 698, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  11. Masciandaro, Donato & Passarelli, Francesco, 2013. "Financial systemic risk: Taxation or regulation?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 587-596.
  12. Thomas Bassetti & Luca Corazzini & Darwin Cortes & Luca Nunziata, 2013. "Do Immigrants Make Us Safer? A Model on Crime, Immigration and the Labor Market," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0121, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
  13. Howard Bodenhorn, 2008. "Criminal Sentencing in Nineteenth Century Pennsylvania," NBER Working Papers 14283, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Bodenhorn, Howard, 2009. "Criminal sentencing in 19th-century Pennsylvania," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 287-298, July.
  15. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti, 2014. "The Ups and Downs in Women's Employment: Shifting Composition or Behavior from 1970 to 2010?," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 14-212, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

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