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Immigration and Crime: Evidence from Canada

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  • Zhang, Haimin
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    Abstract

    There is growing belief in many developed countries, including Canada, that the large influx of the foreign-born population increases crime. Despite the heated public discussion, the immigrant-crime relationship is understudied in the literature. This paper identifies the causal linkages between immigration and crime using panel data constructed from the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey and the master files of the Census of Canada. This paper distinguishes immigrants by their years in Canada and defines three groups: new immigrants, recent immigrants and established immigrants. An instrumental variable strategy based on the historical ethnic distribution is used to correct for the endogenous location choice of immigrants. Two robust patterns emerge. First, new immigrants do not have a significant impact on the property crime rate, but with time spent in Canada, a 10% increase in the recent-immigrant share or established-immigrant share decreases the property crime rate by 2% to 3%. Neither underreporting to police nor the dilution of the criminal pool by the addition of law-abiding immigrants can fully explain the size of the estimates. This suggests that immigration has a spillover effect, such as changing neighbourhood characteristics, which reduces crime rates in the long run. Second, IV estimates are consistently more negative than their OLS counterparts. By not correctly identifying the causal channel, OLS estimation leads to the incorrect conclusion that immigration is associated with higher crime rates.

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    File URL: http://www.clsrn.econ.ubc.ca/workingpapers/CLSRN%20Working%20Paper%20no.%20135%20-%20Zhang.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Vancouver School of Economics in its series CLSSRN working papers with number clsrn_admin-2014-20.

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    Length: 59 pages
    Date of creation: 28 Apr 2014
    Date of revision: 28 Apr 2014
    Handle: RePEc:ubc:clssrn:clsrn_admin-2014-20

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    Web page: http://www.clsrn.econ.ubc.ca/

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    Keywords: Immigration; Crime;

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    References

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    1. Milo Bianchi & Paolo Buonanno & Paolo Pinotti, 2012. "Do Immigrants Cause Crime?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(6), pages 1318-1347, December.
    2. David Card, 2009. "Immigration and Inequality," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0907, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    3. Card, David, 2004. "Is the New Immigration Really So Bad?," IZA Discussion Papers 1119, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Brian Bell & Francesco Fasani & Stephen Machin, 2013. "Crime and Immigration: Evidence from Large Immigrant Waves," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 1278-1290, October.
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    8. Gauthier-Loiselle, Marjolaine & Hunt, Jennifer, 2009. "How Much Does Immigration Boost Innovation?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7116, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Spenkuch, Jörg L., 2010. "Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Crime," MPRA Paper 22864, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    14. 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.
    15. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
    16. Grogger, Jeff, 1998. "Market Wages and Youth Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 756-91, October.
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    18. Funk, Patricia & Kugler, Peter, 2003. "Dynamic interactions between crimes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 291-298, June.
    19. Freeman, Richard B., 1999. "The economics of crime," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 52, pages 3529-3571 Elsevier.
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