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Cross-city evidence on the relationship between immigration and crime

  • Kristin F. Butcher

    (Industrial Relations Section, Firestone Library, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540)

  • Anne Morrison Piehl

    (John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research, University of California, Berkeley)

Public concerns about the costs of immigration and crime are high, and sometimes overlapping. This article investigates the relationship between immigration into a metropolitan area and that area's crime rate during the 1980s. Using data from the Uniform Crime Reports and the Current Population Surveys, we find, in the cross section, that cities with high crime rates tend to have large numbers of immigrants. However, controlling for the demographic characteristics of the cities, recent immigrants appear to have no effect on crime rates. In explaining changes in a city's crime rate over time, the flow of immigrants again has no effect, whether or not we control for other city-level characteristics. In a secondary analysis of individual data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), we find that youth born abroad are statistically significantly less likely than native-born youth to be criminally active.

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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Volume (Year): 17 (1998)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 457-493

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Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:17:y:1998:i:3:p:457-493
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  1. David Card, 1990. "The impact of the Mariel boatlift on the Miami labor market," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(2), pages 245-257, January.
  2. Carrington, William J, 1996. "The Alaskan Labor Market during the Pipeline Era," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 186-218, February.
  3. Joseph G. Altonji & David Card, 1991. "The Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market Outcomes of Less-skilled Natives," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, pages 201-234 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 2000. "The Role of Deportation in the Incarceration of Immigrants," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in the Economics of Immigration, pages 351-386 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. George J. Borjas & Stephen J. Trejo, 1990. "Immigrant Participation in the Welfare System," NBER Working Papers 3423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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