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Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Crime

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  • Jörg L. Spenkuch

Abstract

Almost three quarters of Americans believe that immigration increases crime. Yet, existing academic research has shown no such effect. Using panel data on U.S. counties, this paper presents empirical evidence on a systematic, but small impact of immigration on crime. Consistent with the economic model of crime this effect is stronger for crimes motivated by financial gain, such as motor vehicle theft and robbery. Moreover, the effect is only present for those immigrants most likely to have poor labor market outcomes. Failure to account for the cost of increased crime would overstate the "immigration surplus," but it would not reverse its sign.

Suggested Citation

  • Jörg L. Spenkuch, 2014. "Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Crime," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 177-219.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:16:y:2014:i:1:p:177-219.
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    JEL classification:

    • K00 - Law and Economics - - General - - - General (including Data Sources and Description)
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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