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Unemployment and Right-Wing Extremist Crime

  • Falk, Armin

    ()

    (University of Bonn)

  • Zweimüller, Josef

    ()

    (University of Zurich)

Right-wing extremism is a serious problem in many societies. A prominent hypothesis states that unemployment plays a crucial role for the occurrence of right-wing extremist crime. In this paper we empirically test this hypothesis. We use a previously not used data set which includes all officially recorded right-wing criminal acts in Germany. These data are recorded by the German Federal Criminal Police Office on a monthly and state level basis. Our main finding is that there is in fact a significant positive relation between unemployment and right-wing criminal activities. We show further that the big difference in right-wing crime between East and West German states can mostly be attributed to differences in unemployment. This finding reinforces the importance of unemployment as an explanatory factor for right-wing crime and questions explanations based solely on the different socialization in former communist East Germany and the liberal West German states. Our data further allow us to separate violent from non-violent right-wing crimes. We show that unemployment is closely related to both types of crimes, but that the association with non-violent crimes is much stronger. Since right-wing crime is committed particularly by relatively young males, we also explore whether the youth unemployment rate is a better predictor for right-wing crime than total unemployment. This hypothesis can be rejected: given total unemployment, a higher share of youth unemployment does not affect right-wing extremist crime rates.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1540.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published (with Andreas Kuhn) in: Scandinavian Journal of Economics. 2011, 113 (2), 260 - 285
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1540
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  1. Raphael, Steven & Winter-Ember, Rudolf, 2001. "Identifying the Effect of Unemployment on Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 259-83, April.
  2. Entorf, Horst & Spengler, Hannes, 2000. "Socioeconomic and demographic factors of crime in Germany: Evidence from panel data of the German states," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 75-106, March.
  3. Gang, Ira N. & Rivera-Batiz, Francisco L. & Yun, Myeong-Su, 2002. "Economic Strain, Ethnic Concentration and Attitudes Towards Foreigners in the European Union," IZA Discussion Papers 578, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Siedler, Thomas, 2006. "Family and politics: does parental unemployment cause right-wing extremism?," ISER Working Paper Series 2006-51, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
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  7. Bauer, Thomas K. & Lofstrom, Magnus & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2000. "Immigration Policy, Assimilation of Immigrants and Natives' Sentiments towards Immigrants: Evidence from 12 OECD-Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 187, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Fertig, Michael & Schmidt, Christoph M, 2002. "The Perception of Foreigners and Jews in Germany - A Structural Analysis of a Large Opinion Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 3222, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  10. Christian Dustmann & Francesca Fabbri & Ian Preston, 2011. "Racial Harassment, Ethnic Concentration, and Economic Conditions," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 113(3), pages 689-711, 09.
  11. Carmichael, Fiona & Ward, Robert, 2001. "Male unemployment and crime in England and Wales," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 111-115, October.
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  14. Fischer, Stanley, 1981. "Towards an understanding of the costs of inflation: II," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 5-41, January.
  15. Alan B. Krueger & Jitka Maleckova, 2003. "Education, Poverty and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 119-144, Fall.
  16. King, Gary & Rosen, Ori & Tanner, Martin & Wagner, Alexander F., 2008. "Ordinary Economic Voting Behavior in the Extraordinary Election of Adolf Hitler," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(04), pages 951-996, December.
  17. 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.
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