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Silence of the Innocents: Illegal Immigrants' Underreporting of Crime and their Victimization

Author

Listed:
  • Comino, Stefano

    () (University of Udine)

  • Mastrobuoni, Giovanni

    () (Collegio Carlo Alberto)

  • Nicolò, Antonio

    () (University of Padua)

Abstract

We analyze the consequences of illegally residing in a country on the likelihood of reporting a crime to the police and, as a consequence, on the likelihood to become victims of a crime. We use an immigration amnesty to address two issues when dealing with the legal status of immigrants: it is both endogenous as well as mostly unobserved in surveys. Right after the 1986 US Immigration Reform and Control Act, which disproportionately legalized individuals of Hispanic origin, crime victims of Hispanic origin in cities with a large proportion of illegal Hispanics become considerably more likely to report a crime. Non-Hispanics show no changes. Difference-in-differences estimates that adjust for the misclassification of legal status imply that the reporting rate of undocumented immigrants is close to 11 percent. Gaining legal status the reporting rate triples, approaching the reporting rate of non-Hispanics. We also find some evidence that following the amnesty Hispanics living in metropolitan areas with a large share of illegal migrants experience a reduction in victimization. This is coherent with a simple behavioral model of crime that guides our empirical strategies, where amnesties increase the reporting rate of legalized immigrants, which, in turn, modify the victimization of natives and migrants.

Suggested Citation

  • Comino, Stefano & Mastrobuoni, Giovanni & Nicolò, Antonio, 2016. "Silence of the Innocents: Illegal Immigrants' Underreporting of Crime and their Victimization," IZA Discussion Papers 10306, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10306
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    Cited by:

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    3. Sofia Amaral & Sonia Bhalotra & Nishith Prakash, 2019. "Gender, Crime and Punishment: Evidence from Women Police Stations in India," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-309, Boston University - Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigration; amnesty; crime reporting; victimization survey;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • K37 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Immigration Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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