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Crime and Immigration: Evidence from Large Immigrant Waves

  • Brian Bell

    ()

    (London School of Economics)

  • Stephen Machin

    ()

    (University College London, London School of Economics)

  • Francesco Fasani

    ()

    (University College London)

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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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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  1. Hatton, Timothy J., 2008. "The Rise and Fall of Asylum: What Happened and Why?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6752, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Milo Bianchi & Paolo Buonanno & Paolo Pinotti, 2008. "Do Immigrants Cause Crime?," Working Papers (-2012) 0801, University of Bergamo, Department of Economics.
  3. Card, David, 2001. "Immigrant Inflows, Native Outflows, and the Local Labor Market Impacts of Higher Immigration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 22-64, January.
  4. Steve Machin & Costas Meghir, 2000. "Crime and economic incentives," IFS Working Papers W00/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  5. Alan B. Krueger & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1996. "A Statistical Analysis of Crime Against Foreigners in Unified Germany," NBER Working Papers 5485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. 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).
  8. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
  9. David Card, 2004. "Is the New Immigration Really So Bad?," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0402, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
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  12. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Per-Anders Edin & Peter Fredriksson & Olof �slund, 2003. "Ethnic Enclaves And The Economic Success Of Immigrants - Evidence From A Natural Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 329-357, February.
  14. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1998. "Recent immigrants: Unexpected implications for crime and incarceration," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(4), pages 654-679, July.
  15. Milo Bianchi & Paolo Buonanno & Paolo Pinotti, 2008. "Do immigrants cause crime?," PSE Working Papers halshs-00586864, HAL.
  16. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00586864 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Christian Dustmann & Tommaso Frattini & Ian Preston, 2008. "The Effect of Immigration along the Distribution of Wages," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0803, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  20. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
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