Crime as a Price of Inequality? The Delinquency Gap between Children of Immigrants and Children of Native Swedes
We examine the gap in registered crime between the children of immigrants and the children of native Swedes. Our study is the first in Sweden to address the role of family and environmental background in creating the gap in recorded crimes. Lack of resources within the family and/or in the broader social environment, particularly in neighborhoods and schools, generates higher risks for criminal activity in children, and if the children of immigrants to a larger extent are underprivileged in those resources, a gap in crime may occur. In the empirical analyses we follow all individuals who completed compulsory schooling during the period 1990 to 1993 in the Stockholm Metropolitan area (N=66,330), and we analyze how background factors related to the family of origin and neighborhood segregation during adolescence influence the gap in recorded crimes, which are measured in 2005. For males, we are generally able to explain between half and three-quarters of this gap in crime by parental socioeconomic resources and neighborhood segregation. For females, we can explain even more, sometimes the entire gap. Resources in the family of origin appear to be the strongest mediator. In addition, the residual differences are virtually unrelated to immigrants’ country of origin, indicating that ‘culture’ or other shared context-of-exit factors matter very little in generating the gap.
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